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Vegetable Biryani

serves 8-10

From the Persian word for "roasted," a biryani is a version of rice pilaf. The sauce base can be made several days ahead and refrigerated (or frozen); the vegetables can be prepped the day before.

Read more about this recipe at the Washington Post.



ingredients

Sauce base:
3 to 5 tablespoons canola oil, or more as needed
1 medium yellow onion, halved and cut into 1/4-inch half-moons
1 tablespoon ginger paste
2 tablespoons finely grated garlic
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 medium tomato, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground mace

Biryani:
2 pounds basmati rice
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons hot water
5 cups assorted vegetables, such as carrots, green beans, cauliflower, peeled Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled sweet potatoes, peas and turnips, cut into bite-size cubes or sticks, blanched
1 (1-inch) piece ginger root, cut into very thin strips
4 Thai green chili peppers, stemmed, seeded and slit
2 medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch slices
3/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
4 quarts water
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil

Bouquet garni:
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
3 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves

timer

prep: 1 hour
total: 2 hours 15 minutes

tools

colander
large sauté pan
large Dutch oven
small piece of cheesecloth
twine
large stockpot
clean kitchen cloth or several layers of cheesecloth

instructions

1. Rinse the rice well and soak in cold water to cover for 1 hour, then drain and rinse. Set aside.

2. In a small cup, soak the saffron in the hot water; set aside.

3. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until it is smoking. Add the sliced onion and cook for about 18 minutes, until golden, adding oil as necessary.

4. Drain the fat from the pan and add the ginger and garlic; cook for 30 seconds. Add the turmeric, cayenne pepper and coriander, then add the chopped tomato and cook about 10 minutes, until the oil starts to separate and bubble around the edges.

5. Remove from the heat and add the salt, garam masala, cardamom and mace. Measure 1 cup and reserve the rest for another use. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

6. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, removing the other racks; preheat to 350F.

7. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 1 cup Biryani sauce base for 1 minute. Add the blanched vegetables and cook them in the sauce for about 5 minutes, or until they are crisp-tender.

8. Remove the pot from the heat; cover the vegetables with the ginger, Thai green chili peppers, tomatoes, 1/4 cup of the cilantro and the mint. Set aside.

9. To form an Indian-style bouquet garni, wrap the cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves in a small piece of cheesecloth and secure the bundle with kitchen twine.

10. In a large stockpot over high heat, combine the water, salt, bouquet garni and oil. Bring to a boil, then add the rice and cook for about 7 minutes; the rice will still have a slight crunch.

11. Drain the rice in a colander, then spread two-thirds of the rice over the vegetables in the Dutch oven. Sprinkle the reserved saffron water over the rice, then top with the remaining rice.

12. Place a clean wet cloth (it will stain) or several layers of wet cheesecloth directly atop the food, covering it, and place a tight lid on the Dutch oven. Transfer to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until the moisture has evaporated and the rice is aromatic.

13. Remove the biryani from the oven and discard the Indian-style bouquet garni. Stir to mix well. Garnish with the remaining 1/2 cup of cilantro. Serve hot.



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