While we started this conversation with the Chatore special chicken Biryani, we have been receiving loads of requests to showcase a vegetarian version as well.
So to keep that promise, here is the recipe of a vegetable biryani with a Chatore twist.
- Vegetables – 1 Kg ( Could be an eclectic mix of carrots,cauliflower,green peas,beans & mushrooms or any other vegetables you like)
- Rice – about 1kg
- Onion – 10 large onions
- 5 medium potatoes chopped into four quarters each
- 4 large Tomatoes finely chopped
- A bunch of Mint leaves (Pudina)
- A bunch of coriander / cilantro (Dhania)
- 200 gms of Curd (plain unflavored Yoghurt)
- Coriander powder – 2 tea spoons
- Red Chilly power – as per taste
- Cumin Powder – 1 tea spoon
- Turmeric Powder – 3/4th tea spoon
- Whole Green Chillies – 5/7pcs
- Whole Dried Red Chillies-4
- Cinnamon (Dalchini) – 1 stick
- Cloves (Laung) – 4
- Star anise – 1
- Masala Elaichi – 2
- Mace -4-5 strands
- Green Cardamom Powder – use around 6-7 cardamoms for this
- Ginger – Garlic Paste
- Bay leaves – 4-5
- Cooking Oil
- A few strands of Saffron for the intoxicating aroma and color
The Making of the Fried onions( Barista) and the Potatoes
- Finely chop 8 onions lengthwise, and keep them under a fan to dehydrate. This will ensure that the onions remain crisp in the rice when the whole thing cooks.
- Saute the onions until they become brown. Dark brown just one step before seeming burnt. Then keep aside. Save the oil for later use. The barista as these fried onions are called is the star of the dish, so don’t rush this up!
- Saute the chopped potatoes in the same oil till they are nice and brown.
The Making of the Rice
- Cook the rice till it is 65% done. Pop in the bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, masala elaichi, star anise and the mace while the rice is cooking. It is important that the rice does not get cooked fully at this stage as it will be further cooked post assembly.
Note: We usually cook the rice with plenty of water and set the flame high, and keep checking on the grains until they are about 65% done and then drain all the water. We then spread the rice on a large flat platter for it to cool and strew the cardamom powder on top. So what we get at the end of it are separate beautiful aromatic grains of rice. We don’t want a lumpy khichdi like biryani in the end. This part, well yes it does needs loads of attention. You mess the rice and your biryani goes for a toss.
The Making of the Assortment of Veggies
- In the onion fried oil, add the whole red chillies. Keep the heat low or else your chillies will burn.
- Add the remaining onions,that are finely chopped. Fry them till they turn a beautiful golden brown (not dark brown – we are done with the barista). You could also add some of the fried onions to give you that beautiful deep brown colour.
- Pop in the tomatoes next and saute till they are all gooey and paste like or till the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan.
- Pop in the ginger garlic paste next, and sauté some more
- Throw in a dash of turmeric, red chilly powder and coriander powder and some garam masala
- You could use Kashmiri chilly powder if you want to score high on the colour and less on the spice
- Saute this entire mixture very well, till you get a beautiful reddish brown colour
- Whip up your yogurt alopngside till it is nice and smooth
- Tip in the yogurt next
- Fold in the yogurt gently
- Pop in your veggies one by one
- Remember you don’t want to cook your veggies completely at this point, since they will also cook on dum later.
- So be sure to cook them while they still have that wonderful crunch
- You would’nt want those veggies to disappear once the Biryani is all cooked.
- Throw in some of your coriander
- Once they have been about half cooked turn off the heat
The Final Assembly
- Now for the assembly. Take a heavy bottomed vessel. Something like a Pressure Cooker works perfectly. A degchi will work too, if you have one that is!
- Grease the vessel with ghee (clarified oil) and a light hand.
- Assemble all the vegetable masala right at the bottom
- Now the way we assemble is – have a layer of rice on top of the masala, then a layer of the onions, potatoes, the coriander and mint and then a layer of rice again. Keep doing this till your container is full. The top most layer should be a generous helping of onions and loads of coriander. Add another layer of rice, then another layer of the fried onions and potatoes and so on till the container is full, or till you are out of rice, onions and potatoes!
- Once the assembly is done, make 3-4 little holes in the biryani with a knife. Into each of these little wells pour some hot melted ghee and a sprinkle of some garam masala. Cover these wells up. Take the saffron, add in a few spoons of lukewarm milk and let the saffron dissolve. You could do this right in the beginning when you are in the midst of your barista making process, so the saffron leaves its colour in the milk for long! Take the potion and sprinkle over the assembly so that it seeps through.This will give color and fragrance to the rice.
- Seal the vessel with dough. This will ensure that the steam cooks the rice and veggies inside the vessel and all the spice aromas remain.
- A useful tip: Keep a Tava right below your cooking vessel, so your veggies at the bottom don’t burn.
- Cook for 25 minutes on medium heat.
- Serve hot with Raita / Yoghurt and of course some beer!