Vegetable biryani is a traditional mughlai main course item loaded with chopped vegetables, spices, saffron and dry fruits. On normal days, you can make it as a one-pot meal. Even as ingredients like capsicum and coriander spread their aroma, whiffs of saffron and other spices rise above all and pamper your senses.
For The Rice
1 1/2 cups long grained rice (basmati) , soaked and drained
1 bayleaf (tejpatta)
25 mm (1”) piece cinnamon (dalchini)
1 clove (laung / lavang)
1 cardamom (elaichi)
salt to taste
For The Vegetable Gravy
1 1/2 cups chopped and boiled mixed vegetables (carrots , peas , cauliflower , french beans and potatoes)
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
2 tsp ginger-green chilli paste
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
2 tsp coriander (dhania) powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 cup roughly chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup paneer (cottage cheese) cubes
salt to taste
1/4 cup milk
a pinch of sugar
1/4 cup fresh curds (dahi)
1/4 cup finely chopped coriander (dhania)
a few drops of edible saffron colour
2 tbsp ghee
For the rice
Combine 4½ cups of water, bayleaf, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, rice and salt in a deep non-stick pan, cover with a lid and cook on a medium flame for 10 to 12 minutes or till the rice is cooked.
Strain the rice using a strainer and keep aside.
For the vegetable gravy
Heat the oil in a deep non-stick pan and add the cumin seeds.
When the seeds crackle, add the onions and sauté on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes or till the onions turn translucent.
Add the ginger-green chilli paste, turmeric powder, coriander powder, chilli powder and garam masala and sauté on a medium flame for a few seconds.
Add the tomatoes and 2 tbsp of water, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the mixed vegetables, paneer, salt and milk and cook on a medium flame for another 2 to 3 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
Add the sugar, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 more minute.
How to proceed
Combine the curds, coriander and saffron colour in a bowl and mix well.
Add the prepared rice mixture and mix well.
Transfer ½ of the rice mixture in a handi and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon.
Add all the prepared vegetable gravy on it and spread it evenly.
Top it with the remaining ½ of the rice mixture and spread it evenly.
Pour the ghee evenly over it and cover it with a lid.
Place the handi on a non-stick tava (griddle) and cook on a slow flame for 25 to 30 minutes.
Just before serving, turn upside down on a serving plate, garnish with fried onions, cashewnuts and raisins and serve hot.