From the Persian word for "roasted," a biryani is a version of rice pilaf. It requires some prep work, but making components in advance over time makes the job easier. The sauce base can be made several days ahead and refrigerated (or frozen). The vegetables can be prepped the day before.
David Hagedorn adapted this recipe from the version prepared by chef Nilesh Singhvi.
Servings: 8 - 10
- For the Vegetable Biryani
- 2 pounds basmati rice
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 1 cup Biryani Sauce Base (see related recipe)
- 5 cups assorted vegetables, such as carrots, green beans, cauliflower, peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled sweet potatoes, peas and turnips, cut into bite-size cubes or sticks, blanched (see note below)
- 1 1-inch piece ginger root, cut into very thin strips (julienne)
- 4 Thai green chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and slit
- 2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- 4 quarts water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- For the Indian-style bouquet garni
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 whole cloves
- 3 cardamom pods
- 2 bay leaves
Rinse the rice well and soak in cold water to cover for 1 hour, then drain and rinse. Set aside.
In a small cup, soak the saffron in the hot water; set aside.
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, removing the other racks; preheat to 350 degrees.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the Biryani Sauce Base for 1 minute. Add the blanched vegetables and cook them in the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender. Remove the pot from the heat; cover the vegetables with the ginger, Thai green chili peppers, tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the cilantro and the mint. Set aside.
To form an Indian-style bouquet garni, wrap the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves in a small piece of cheesecloth and secure the bundle with kitchen twine.
In a large stockpot over high heat, combine the water, salt, bouquet garni and oil. Bring to a boil, then add the rice and cook for about 7 minutes; the rice will still have a slight crunch. Drain it in a colander, then spread two-thirds of the rice over the vegetables in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the reserved saffron water over the rice, then top with the remaining rice. Place a clean wet cloth (it will stain) or several layers of wet cheesecloth directly atop the food, covering it, and place a tight lid on the Dutch oven. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the moisture has evaporated and the rice is aromatic.
Remove the biryani from the oven and discard the Indian-style bouquet garni. Stir to mix well. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of cilantro. Serve hot.
Adapted from chef Nilesh Singhvi.
Tested by Vanessa Williams.
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