1cupbasmati rice200 grams, soaked in 3 cups (24 oz) water for 30 minutes
1.5tablespoon +1 teaspoongheedivided
2mediumred onionthinly sliced, divided
1/2cupcauliflower floretsmedium sized florets
5-6green beanscut diagonally
saffron strandsgenerous pinch
1/2teaspooncumin seedsI used shahi jeera
1/3cupplain yogurtwhisked and at room temperature, can add 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch and whisk to prevent curdling
1.5teaspoonbiryani masalaor use 1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2teaspoonkashmiri red chili powderor use regular chili powder for heat
1.5teaspoonrose water or kewra water
Cook the rice
Soak the rice in 3 cups (24 oz) water for 30 minutes. After the rice has soaked, drain the water using a colander.
Heat a pot full of water, add 3 green cardamom, 2 cloves and 3/4 teaspoon salt to it. Let it come to a boil.Add rice, stir with a spoon.
Let it cook uncovered (don't lower the heat) until it's almost cooked (around 70-75% cooked but not fully cooked). There should be a bite to it. This takes around 6 to 7 minutes.Remove pan from heat and drain rice in a colander. You may add a teaspoon of ghee to the rice. Set aside.
Caramelize onion & cashews and pan fry the veggies
Heat 1.5 tablespoons ghee in a pan on medium heat. Once hot, add 1 sliced onion to it and cook until they turn golden brown and caramelize.This takes around 8 to 9 minutes. Remove on a plate.
To the same pan, now add cashews and cook until golden brown, around 1 to 2 minutes. Remove on plate and set aside.
To same pan add potato, cook for 2 minutes until light brown. Remove on a plate.
To the same pan, now add cauliflower, beans and carrots. Saute for 2 to 3 minutes until veggies appear light brown. Remove on a plate.PS: This pan-frying veggies is an additional step and you can skip it and directly cook the veggies later on. I like doing the extra step as it gives the veggies a nice texture.
Make the saffron-milk and cook the vegetables
Heat 2 tablespoons milk in a pan. Once warm, add saffron strands (crush it before adding).Let it sit for 10 minutes for that beautiful yellow color. Saffron milk is ready, set it aside.
Crush ginger, garlic and chili using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
Heat 1.5 tablespoons oil in a pan/pot on medium heat. Add cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, peppercorns, remaining 3 cardamom and remaining 2 cloves.Stir and let the spices sizzle for few seconds. Add the sliced onions also add 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until onions turn light brown. Then add the crushed ginger-garlic and green chilies paste.Cook for 2 minutes until the raw smell goes away.
Remove pan from heat and whisk in the yogurt, whisking continuously until it's all absorbed.Put the pan back on heat. Add all the veggies and toss to combine.
Add the biryani masala and kashmiri red chili powder.
Add 1/4 cup water. Let it cook for around 6 to 7 minutes until veggies are almost cooked but not overcooked. They should be firm to bite.You may also cover the pan, I usually cook uncovered. There shouldn't be much water left, it should be kind of thick mixture.Remove from heat.
Layer the biryani
Now take a heavy bottom pan. I first grease the bottom of the pan with ghee.Then add a layer of rice (half of the rice). Top with half of fried onion, half of fried cashews and half of cilantro and mint. Add 1/2 teaspoon of rose water. Now place the veggies on top (all of it).
Then add another rice layer (remaining rice) on top of the veggies. Then top it with remaining with fried onion, cashews, cilantro and mint.Add the prepared saffron milk and the remaining 1 teaspoon rose water on top.
And finally drizzle 1 teaspoon ghee on top. Sprinkle some biryani masala.I did 2 layers of rice and 1 layer of veggies. If your pan in small you may do more layers, but the end layer should always be of rice.
Cover the pan tightly with aluminium foil. Then cover with a fitted lid.Heat a flat pan on medium heat. Once hot, reduce the flame to lowest. Place your biryani pot on top of the pan and let it cook for 25 to 30 minutes on lowest heat (dum).
Scoop out the biryani from the bottom of the pan so that each serving has both the veggies and the rice.Serve vegetable biryani with a side of raita.
I haven't added lot of vegetables here since I wanted the rice to shine through. You can add more veggies if you like more veggies in your biryani.
To make the biryani vegan, use vegan yogurt or coconut milk in place of plain yogurt. Skip the ghee and use non-dairy milk to make the saffron milk.