Vegetable ‘Dum’ Biryani

Get ready to test your aroma buds!! I was walking through the aisles of my local Indian store and I came across this pack of Whole Biryani Masala and I told to myself that I need to make the biryani.

To my surprise, a couple of days later, I walk into the house, after a day of errands, with a house filled with aromas. My hubby was getting ready to surprise me with Vegetable ‘Dum’ Biryani. Plant-Based Hubby Chef in the making.

Biryani is an elegant and exquisite rice-based recipe with Persian roots. It is very popular throughout India and you would feel like you are preparing it as you would prepare a lasagne. Instead of sauce, you use vegetable gravy with plenty of whole spices to tickle your buds and instead of pasta sheets, you use brown-rice.

Ingredients (Rice)

  • 8 cups water
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 tsp whole black pepper
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice

Ingredients (Vegetable Gravy)

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 – 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 whole cardamom
  • 1 large onion; finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger; grated
  • 2 cloves garlic; grated
  • 2 – 2 1/2 cups mixed vegetables; carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, peas, potato, beans; chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup plant-based non-dairy yogurt; whisked
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 – 3 tsp biryani masala powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup coriander
  • 3 tbsp mint leaves or 10-12 mint leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 7 – 8 oz. cubes extra firm Tofu; cube cut (approx. 15 cubes)

Ingredients (Garnish)

  • 15 mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coriander, chopped
  • 1/4 cup saffron water
  • wheat dough, to seal

Preparation (Rice)

1. Take a medium saucepan and add 8 cups water, brown rice, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, whole pepper, and 1 tsp salt. Place on medium heat.
2. After the water boils, check regularly at 5 mins intervals if the rice is cooked. We do not want to cook the rice fully as we will be cooking it more with the gravy later.
3. Once the rice is cooked to your preference, drain the water from the rice using a colander. Rinse the rice using cold water to stop further cooking.

Preparation (Vegetable Gravy)

1. Take coriander, mint leaves and 1/4 cup water and puree in a blender. Keep aside.
2. Take a medium to large saucepan and place on medium heat.
3. When the saucepan is hot, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, whole cardamoms, cumin seeds. Dry roast for 1 min. You should feel the ingredients turning aromatic. Add 3 tbsp water to the saucepan to avoid burning.
4. Add the finely chopped onions to the saucepan and saute them. If needed, add 1-2 tbsp of water to avoid onions to stick to the pan. Saute until onions soften and turn translucent.
5. Add the grated ginger and garlic to the pan and mix well. Saute for 2 mins.
6. Add the chopped vegetables to the pan and mix well.
7. Add whisked yogurt, chili powder, turmeric powder, biryani masala, coriander-mint puree and salt to the saucepan. Mix well.
8. Add 1 cup water and cover the vegetable mix saucepan to cook on medium heat. Uncover at 5min intervals until the vegetables are almost cooked.
9. Add the cubed tofu and mix well to evenly cover the gravy over the tofu. Cook for another 2mins.
10. Remove from heat.

Preparation and Assembly (Vegetable Biryani)

1. Preheat oven 350F.
2. In oven-safe large cookware with cover, place a layer of the vegetable gravy followed by a layer of cooked brown rice. We would approximately have three layers so place the layers accordingly. This is like assembling a lasagne.
3. Spread a few chopped mint leaves, chopped coriander and a tsp of Saffron water.
4. Repeat step 2 and step 3 until you have completed used the vegetable gravy and brown rice.
5. Cover the cookware and seal it. You can use the dough prepared from the Roti/Chapati recipe.
6. Place the covered and sealed cookware in the oven for 25 mins. This is cooking the rice with the gravy and adding spice flavors to it.
7. Enjoy the biryani with Raita, Green Chutney and/or Pickle.

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