As none of my extensive collection of recipe books contained an authentic recipe, I started browsing Indian blogs and came across this recipe from Prathibha who has a vegetarian blog called The Chef and Her Kitchen; Her biryani looked just the sort of thing I was looking for. Although I didn't quite have all the ingredients needed, I decided to try the recipe out, simplifying the cooking method slightly to speed up the preparation time.
The list of ingredients might look a bit daunting, but the resulting taste is worth it (the whole family agreed that it was as good as our normal take-away biryani!). If you don't have a wide selection of spices, improvise with what you do have, or simply swap the ground and whole spices for 1-2 tbsp of a good quality Indian curry paste (preferably one containing fennel and cardamom), it might not taste quite as good, but should be a pretty close alternative.
Providing you do have a good selection of spices or already have a suitable curry paste, this meal costs under £2.00 to make.
- 1 cup of basmati rice soaked for 10 mins then washed till water runs clear and drained in a sieve
- 1 large onion, cut in half and finely sliced
- 100-150 g/4-6 oz chestnut mushrooms, washed and sliced
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger plus 2 cloves of crushed garlic or 1 tbsp garlic/ginger paste
- 1-2 tsp finely chopped chilli
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 whole green cardamom pods
- 1 small stick of cinnamon
- 1 whole star anise
- ½ tsp cumin seeds, whole
- ½ tsp fennel seeds, ground
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
Remove the onions from the pan and keep to one side.
Heat a further 1 tbsp oil in the pan and add the garlic, ginger, chilli and spices cook for 2 minutes.
Add the mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown.
Add the drained rice and half of the cooked onions, and stir to coat in the spice mixture.
Add 1 ¾ cup boiling water. Stir well.
Cover with a lid and cook for 12 minutes, or until the rice is almost cooked and the water has been absorbed.
Turn the heat off, and leave the pan on the warm hob with the lid on.
Allow the rice to stand for a further 15 minutes.
Fluff with a fork (discarding the whole spices if you can find them!) and top with the reserved fried onions.
Either serve with tarka dal / chana masala or add a drained tin of chickpeas to the rice (just before it's cooked), for a protein-rich complete meal.
I'm adding this recipe to January's Bookmarked Recipes over at Tinned Tomatoes and to this month's Credit Crunch Munch which is co-hosted by Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours.