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I believe that salt is to food, what food is to life. In right proportions, it can heighten the taste of what you eat..and in the wrong - destroy! Even the most delicious sweets come added with some salt...to taste!

As for me, I've never enjoyed cooking. And as contrary to my owning a food-blog as it may sound, I always think about daily, routine cooking as a chore. But my tryst with the pots and pans began when I got a kitchen all to myself...I began experimenting and exploring new worlds in my own home. Some outcomes were excellent and some plain disasters. Then sprouted the need to keep track of all those good ones...and hence this blog!

Here, I share those experiments that pleased more than one palate!

June 13, 2011

Home-style Vegetable Biryani

It always leaves me amused, how my son would gorge down an entire plate of peas pulao at a restaurant buffet and make faces when I make the same thing at home. How can something that's gone cold and was probably made many hours before it made its way to his mouth taste better than the same thing made fresh and served piping hot at home?

Isn't it pretty wild how the same dish prepared by two families, or even two different people in the same household, can taste entirely different. Sometimes, even when the recipe followed is the same. On par with this thought, I put forth my version of the famous one-pot meal, Vegetable Biryani.

Biryanis are so versatile and each person tends have their own ways of making it. Some make it from scratch and some by purchasing store-bought biryani mixes. It is made either with meat, chicken, seafood or vegetables. No matter in what way it is prepared, this will always be a delicious part of any meal...or better yet, make a meal in itself!

While in most cases we prepare non-vegetarian biryani from scratch at home, every once in a way I give my vegetables a chance to treat themselves to this delicacy. So, one Sunday I dished up Vegetable Biryani and Chicken Chettinad as an accompaniment. Who can ask for a better weekend luncheon?

1 1/2 Cups Basmati Rice, washed and soaked in water
1 1/2 Cups Choice of vegetables, washed and chopped (I used carrots, cauliflower and green beans)
1 Cup Fresh fenugreek/methi leaves, washed and finely chopped
1 Cup Fresh mint/pudina leaves, washed and finely chopped
1/2 Cup Fresh coriander/dhaniya leaves, washed and chopped
3 Green chillies, washed and slit/chopped
1 1/2 Cup Chopped Onion(s)
1 1/2 Cup Chopped Tomatoe(s)
5-6 cloves of Garlic, peeled and crushed
1 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and minced/grated
1 tbsp. Ginger-Garlic paste
1/4 piece Black Cardamom/Badi elaichi
2 pieces Green Cardamom/Elaichi
1 petal of a Star anise/Badian
2 Bay leaves/Tej patta
3 Cloves/Lavang
1 tsp. Dried fenugreek leaves/Kasuri Methi
1 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
2 tsp. Red chillie powder (Adjust as per your taste)
2 tsp. Garam Masala powder
4 tsp. Coriander/Dhaniya powder
4 tsp. Yogurt
1/4 Cup Clarified Butter/Ghee OR Oil (I know this seems like a lot... but go with it! Add 10 minutes to your next day's workout.)
1 Spring of Coriander/Mint, for garnish
And, of course, some salt to taste!

- In a bowl, stash all your washed and chopped vegetables
- Top off with 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. Red chillie powder, 1 tsp. coriander/Dhaniya powder, 1 tsp. Garam masala powder and all of the yogurt
- Mix well and set aside. You basically just marinate your vegetables in spiced yogurt
- In a heave guage, deep cooker/cook-pot/vessel, pour the clarified butter(ghee)/oil and turn on flame to medium-high
- Once the ghee/oil is slightly warm, add the bay leaves, black cardamom, cloves, star anise and green cardamom and stir until fragrant, taking care not to burn these spices
- Toss in the green chillies and stir
- Add onions, fresh ginger and fresh garlic and stir until onions turn translucent
- Add ginger-garlic paste and fry for a minute
- Add garam masala powder and stir for another minute, until the aroma of the spices and onions hovers all over you
- Toss in the finely chopped fenugreek, mint and coriander leaves and stir fry until they all wilt and join the party
- Drop in the chopped tomatoes and fry until all the moisture from them evaporates and you can see ghee/oil starting to separate from this concoction
- Add the rest of the dry spices (turmeric, garam masala, coriander powder, red chillie powder) and continue to fry on a medium flame, making sure you do not burn the ingredients. Add a few spoons of water if you feel the mixture/masala is burning
- Now, add the vegetables marinated in the spiced yogurt and mix well
- Add salt
- Stir fry on a medium flame until all the vegetables get partially cooked/about 4-5 minutes
- Drain away the water from the washed and soaked Basmati rice and toss in the rice to the cooking pot
- Stir fry for about another two minutes
- Pour about 2 1/2 Cups of warm water (that's about 1/2 Cup lesser than the regular 1:2 ratio used to cook rice) and give a gentle stir
- Now, place the dried fenugreek leaves/kasuri methi between the palms of both your hands and rub your palms gently above the dish, allowing the powdered kasuri methi to fall all over the cooking biryani
- Cover with a vented lid and allow to cook, stirring occasionally to avoid burning
- This quantity gets done in about 20 to 25 minutes since the rice is soaked before cooking and we've used warm water to cook the basmati rice, which even in the normal course is a quick cooking variety of rice. If you are using any other variety of rice, add about 1/4 cup more water check that the rice is fully cooked before you serve
- Garnish with coriander/mint
- Serve hot with your choice of gravy/kurma and/or raita/salad

NOTE - I normally do not use the pressure cooker while making biryani, unless I am making mutton/lamb biryani where the meat takes a long time to cook. I also switch from Basmati rice to either Sona Masoori or Ponni Raw Rice for mutton/lamb biryani as they take longer to cook as well.

Serves 4


  1. The food I cook tastes differently every time. To make it consistent I try to take notes and even weigh the ingredients to get the same taste.. hehee...
    Biriyani with marinated vegetables always taste out of the world. I will stop by your place when you make this again.

  2. Delicious and droolworthy briyani, simply inviting.

  3. Thank you everyone!

    @ Radhika - Just let me know when you're dropping by. Will cook up a feast for ya...Let alone biryani!

  4. looks nice with all the lovely spices..nice click..

  5. Lovely...the biryani looks so nice and must have been very aromatic.

  6. Love this anytime..looks just perfect n yummm

  7. Looks yum n perfect ...loved ur version

  8. following your lovely site delicious biryani