Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani
How many of you love Biryani and always order it when you are at the Indian restaurant? How many of you are intimidated by the idea of making biryani at home?? I see a lot of hands go up in the air!!! Well, I think this blog post could be your solution, to make and eat some very flavorful biryani in the comfort of your own home! How does that sound All you need is a little bit of patience, some planning, some spice shopping and about 3-4 hours of your time. Of course, if you have some help in the kitchen, its great! So invite a couple of friends over and cook together! See, I just gave you a brilliant party idea 😛
I love Hyderabadi food And I love the Nizams who gave us the biryani!! Though Biryani lovers swear by the non-vegetarian version, the vegetarian one is definitely not less worthy. If you’ve never had Biryani before, let me tell you what is it and what this fuss is all about!
Biryani is a rice dish, in which the basmati rice and meat/vegetables are cooked with lots of spices. There are many different types of Biryanis, they are different in terms of the spices used and the methods of preparation. This particular biryani is the authentic Hyderabadi version, in which the vegetables and rice are cooked separately, then layered and cooked on dum (steam). Hence the name dum biryani.
The basmati rice and the spices are responsible for the scintillating aroma of the biryani. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors drop by when you are making this!! Of course in the non-vegetarian version, the flavor of the meat is quite prominent, but if the vegetables are prepared correctly, you will have a wonderful feast at your table. Now there are a few things to remember if you want to make a good biryani. The first and foremost is to get the best quality Basmati rice. You need long grains of rice, that do not break easily and only high quality basmati can provide that. Secondly, the spices! I know the list is rather long, but each different spice contributes in its own ways to a perfect biryani. I also know that some of the spices may be unavailable to everybody, so I’m marking them as optional. But I highly recommend that you try to get the others for a wholesome flavor.
Hyderabadi Biryani is always served with Mirchi ka salan (a chilli pepper gravy) and raita (spiced yogurt). Mirchi ka salan will be my next post, wait for that!!
This is a long awaited post on my blog. I’m sure my friend Megha will agree!! What say, Megha!!
Note: There are many different versions of the Biryani recipe. I do not claim mine to be ‘the’ authentic recipe, this is what I like to make, after a lot of experimentation. I have my own tweaks here and there, which I think enhance the flavor a little bit.
For the rice:
Basmati rice – 2 cups (or 4 small rice cooker cups)
Ghee/Oil – 1 Tbsp
Lemon juice – 2 Tbsp
Salt – to taste
Whole Spices for the rice:
Bay Leaves(dried) – 2-3 no.
Cinnamon – 2 inch stick
Cloves – 5-6 no.
Green Cardamom – 1 no.
Black Cardamom – 1 no. (Optional, but highly recommended)
Shahi Jeera (Caraway seeds) – 2 tsp OR Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Star Anise – 2 flowers
Dagadh Phool(Black stone flower/Pathar phool) – a handful (Optional, increase the number of bay leaves if you don’t have this)
Mace (Javitri) – 2-3 pieces (Optional, substitute with 1/4 tsp of mace powder)
For the Vegetables:
Potatoes – 2 large
Cauliflower – 1 small
French beans – 15-20 no.
Mushrooms – 15-20 no.
Carrots – 2 medium (optional)
Green Peas(shelled) – 1/2 cup
Onion – 1 large (sliced)
Ginger Garlic Paste – 3 Tbsp
Green Chilli (Serrano chillies) – 4-5 no. (Optional)
Yogurt/Curd – 1 cup (use thick yogurt)
Oil/Ghee – 4 Tbsp
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Kasuri Methi (crushed) – 1 tsp
Whole Spices for the curry:
Bay Leaves(dried) – 2-3 no.
Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
Cloves – 3-4 no.
Green Cardamom – 1 no.
Black Cardamom – 1 no.
Shahi Jeera (Caraway seeds) – 2 Tsp OR Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Star Anise – 2 flowers
Peppercorns – 5-6 no.
Nutmeg(grated) – 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 Tbsp (optional, if you are not using most of the above)
For in between the layers:
Cilantro/Coriander leaves – 1 bunch (chopped)
Mint leaves – 3-4 Tbsp (chopped)
French fried onions – two handfuls
Saffron – 1/2 tsp (soaked in 1/4 cup milk)
Red food color – a pinch (optional)
Orange food color – a pinch (optional)
Ready made Biryani masala – 2 tsp (Optional,I recommend Shan’s/Badshah Biryani Pulav masala) OR
My homemade masala blend – 2 tsp (CLICK HERE for the recipe)
To make the curry:
- Slice the onions thinly. Cut the potatoes into 1 inch cubes, carrots and french beans to 1 inch pieces and the cauliflower into fairly large florets.
- Heat the ghee/oil in a cooking pan on medium heat. Have all the spices mentioned under ‘Whole spices for the curry’ ready. Once the oil is heated, add all the spices at once and saute for 30-40 seconds. When the spices are aromatic, add the sliced onions and a little bit of salt. Saute the onions until they are slightly brown.
- Mix in the turmeric powder, chilli powder, ginger-garlic paste, slit green chillies and cook until the raw smell goes away.
- Add the potatoes, carrots, french beans and mushrooms, yogurt, some salt to taste and cook until the potatoes are 75 percent done. Now add the cauliflower and cook until the potatoes are completely done, and the gravy is almost dry. It should neither be a watery curry, nor should it be a completely dry curry. Add water while cooking if necessary. If you have too much gravy, your biryani will be soggy.
- Finish the curry with some crushed Kasuri Methi and chopped coriander leaves.
Note: We add the cauliflower in the end because otherwise it will very mushy and will lose its shape and taste. If you have not used all of the whole spices mentioned, please use 1 1/2 tsp of garam masala instead. Remember that the curry can wait for the rice, but never the other way around. So finish making the curry and then start on the rice.
Before cooking the rice, soak the saffron in 1/4 cup of hot milk. If you are using the food colors, mix each color in 2 Tbsp of milk (separately). Chop the cilantro leaves, mint leaves and have the french fried onions ready. Have the biryani masala also ready. Start cooking the rice only after you have finished these preparations.
Tip: French fried onions are nothing but deep fried sliced onions. If you feel up to it, you can make some at home, but they turn out too soggy and oily. You can easily buy french fried onions at grocery stores/Indian stores.
For the Rice:
- Wash and soak the rice for at least 30 minutes.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. This is almost like cooking pasta, you should give the rice the space to swim in the water while its cooking, otherwise the rice grains will stick to each other.
- Once the water has come to a boil, add salt, lemon juice and the whole spices.
- Drain the soaked rice in a colander and add it to the water and spices.
- Now cook until the rice is almost done. To check, take a grain of rice and when you press it between your finger, it should not be gritty. It should be soft. Keep an eye and check every 2 minutes after the first 5 minutes. The rice is usually done in 8-10 minutes.
- Have a big colander/strainer ready and as soon as you think the rice is done, drain it. And if you are doing it in batches, put the drained rice over a huge, wide open plate/pan so that you do not pile up the rice. Use 2-3 plates if necessary.
Alternatively, if you hate biting into whole spices while enjoying your biryani like my husband, you should tie all the whole spices is a small piece of cheesecloth or actually a coffee filter(paper cup) works too!! This way you can easily discard the spices after you drain the rice.
Assembling and cooking in dum:
I like to do the dum in the oven, at about 300-350 F, for 30-45 minutes. I use a large lasagna pan/aluminum foil dish, and seal it snugly with 2-3 layers of aluminum foil. If you do not have a convection oven, choose a tall, flat bottomed vessel, which you will be able to place on a larger flat bottomed pan, filled with water. The larger pan is what you place on the gas stove, pour in some water and then place the biryani vessel on it, so that the water indirectly heats the biryani, creating steam, at the same time, not burning the bottom.
- First layer half of the vegetable curry on the bottom of the pan. Spread in an even layer. Now place half of the rice over this curry evenly. Now sprinkle the saffron milk and the colored milk one after the other, so that you create a random pattern of colors. Do not pour the colored milk at any one place. Instead use your fingers. Dip them in the color and sprinkle over the rice. Do not overdo this, as the curry will already color the rice yellow. Sprinkle colors in moderation.
- Now sprinkle the chopped cilantro, mint, half of the french fried onions if using and half of the biryani/garam masala.
- Repeat the curry layer and then the rice layer as in the above step.
Tip: Sprinkling the biryani masala is not part of any authentic recipe. It is just something that me and my husband decided to try one day, and loved it!! The masala powder just perfumes the biryani!
If you eat eggs, you may place hard boiled eggs (split in half) on top of the second layer of rice, with the yolks looking up. They make for very pretty presentation!!
- Cover the pan tightly with multiple layers of aluminum foil. I do it three times, to make sure none of the steam escapes with the flavors of my biryani! Secure each layer of aluminum foil tightly around the edges of the pan.
Interesting facts: Traditionally biryani is cooked in a large clay pot, which is sealed shut with some chapatti dough and placed over wood fire! This method gives biryani the best flavor, which unfortunately many of us cannot reproduce at home.
See the colors!! Now you know why everybody loves this delicacy!