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Vegetable Biryani is an Indian rice dish bursting with flavor. With so many layers of delicious spiced vegetables and rice and so many levels of flavor, it is definitely a satisfying meal all by itself. Try this recipe for a very popular and widely recognized Indian dish.

Ingredients:

For Rice:

Basmati Rice – 2 cups – washed, soaked for 1 hr and drained
Water – 8 cups
Bay Leaf – 1
Cloves – 5
Green Cardamom – 1
Cinnamon Stick – 1 inch piece
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 tsp
Mint Leaves – few
Clarified Butter (Ghee) – 1 Tbsp
Saffron – 1/4 tsp soaked in 2 Tbsp water

For Biryani Masala:

Whole Dried Red Chilies – 6
Whole Cloves – 6
Whole Coriander Seeds – 2 Tbsp

For Vegetable Mixture:

Ginger/Garlic Paste – 2 Tbsp
Coriander Powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste
Potatoes – 3 medium, peeled and cut into large pieces
Cauliflower – 1/2 medium, cut into big florets
Frozen Green Peas – 1 cup
Green Beans – 1 cup, cut into long pieces
Carrots – 1/2 cup, cut into big pieces
Green Chilies – 3 to 4 (or to taste), slit
Mint Leaves – handful
Dried Fenugreek Leaves – 2 Tbsp
Cilantro (Coriander Leaves) – small bunch, finely chopped
Tomato – 1 large, cut into big pieces
Yogurt – 1 cup, lightly beaten

Oil – 3 Tbsp
Whole Cashews – 1/4 cup
Walnuts – 1/4 cup
Paneer – 1 cup, cubed
Black Cumin Seeds (Shahi Jeera) – 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon Stick – 1 inch piece
Cloves – 4
Black Cardamom – 1
Bay Leaf – 1
Onion – 1 large, sliced
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp

For Garnishing: Store bought Fried Onions and chopped Cilantro.

Method:

1. Soak Saffron in 2 Tbsp of water and set aside for later use.
2. For the rice: Bring 8 cups of water to a rolling boil and add Cinnamon Stick, Bay Leaf, Whole Cloves, Green Cardamom, 1 tsp Oil, Salt, drained soaked rice and a few mint leaves.
3. Set a timer and cook rice for exactly 5 minutes. Immediately drain the water from the rice and add Clarified Butter (ghee) and mix gently making sure not to break the rice grains. Rice should be 3/4 cooked – not fully cooked.
4. For the Biryani Masala: In a skillet, add Whole Dried Red Chilies, Whole Cloves and Whole Coriander Seeds. Dry roast until the spices release a nice fragrance and have browned (do not burn).
5. Allow whole spices to cool before roughly grinding them (should not be a fine powder). Set aside.
6. For Vegetable Mixture: In a bowl, add Ginger/Garlic Paste, Coriander Powder, 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder, and Salt – mix well.
7. Add Potatoes, Cauliflower, Green Peas, Green Beans, Carrots, Green Chilies, Cilantro, chopped Mint Leaves, Dried Fenugreek Leaves – Mix well and allow to marinate while you work on the rest of the steps.
8. In a non-stick pan, heat 3 Tbsp Oil on medium heat.
9. Add Whole Cashews and Walnuts and saute until they are golden brown. Drain off all excess oil from them nuts and remove them onto a plate. Set aside.
10. In the same, add cubed Paneer and saute until golden brown. Drain excess oil from Paneer and remove onto a plate. Set aside.
11. In the same Oil, add Black Cumin Seeds and allow them to sizzle.
12. Add Cinnamon Stick, Bay Leaf, Whole Cloves and Black Cardamom.
13. Add Sliced Onions and brown lightly.
14. Add 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder, 1 Tbsp (or to taste) previously ground Biryani Masala, salt and mix well.
15. Add marinate vegetable mixture and additional salt, mix thoroughly, cover and cook until the veggies are 3/4 cooked. Do not overcook. Be sure to stir occasionally to prevent sticking/burning.
16. Switch off stove and add back in sauteed Paneer, Cashews and Walnuts.
17. Add Tomatoes and lightly beaten Yogurt and mix gently.
18. Coat bottom and sides of a baking dish with spray cooking oil.
19. Layer bottom of baking dish with 1/3 of cooked rice.
20. Sprinkle 1 tsp of Biryani Masala on the rice.
21. Layer 1/2 of the vegetable mixture over the rice and sprinkle Fried Onions on top.
22. Layer another 1/3 cooked rice over the veggies and sprinkle 1 tsp Biryani Masala.
23. Layer remaining vegetable mixture and sprinkle Fried Onions on top.
24. Layer remaining 1/3 cooked rice and sprinkle 1 tsp Biryani Masala.
25. Drizzle Saffron water over the rice, more Fried Onions and garnish with cilantro.
26. Cover and cook for 45 minutes in a preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven.
27. Serve with Raita.
28. Serves 8.

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