This is one of my recipes that was featured in Chennai’s (India) complete food magazine A La Carte’s Sep 2012 issue. This is also one of my family recipes and it is my mother-in-law’s. She makes amazingly wonderful biryanis and my husband can trade anything in the world for her biryanis. You can imagine how challenged I would feel to make him relish the biryanis I make. I’ve closely observed my mother-in-laws’s way of making it and as always I have given my own tweaks and twists to come up with this recipe. I’m much glad that this one turned out to be one of his favorites too.
Don’t be overwhelmed by the big list of ingredients, the preparation is absolutely simple. You simply won’t believe that you can also make a biryani that’s way more delicious than the ones served in restaurants.
2 cups basmati rice
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup tomato puree
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup cilantro
3 cups water
1-2 teaspoons red chili powder
2 green chilies
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 sticks cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 star anise
1/3 cup vegetable oil
½ tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
2 tablespoons cashew nuts
1 pinch orange-red food color (optional)
Rinse the rice, drain and keep it aside. Grind half a cup mint, half a cup cilantro, ginger garlic paste, 1 tablespoon cashew nuts and green chilies into a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a non stick vessel and fry the spices (cinnamon, cloves, star anise and bay leaves) until they are brown and fragrant. Add onions and cook till become soft and translucent. Now add tomatoes and sauté until they are cooked and mushy. To this add the ground paste, tomato puree, chili powder, turmeric, salt and cook well under medium heat. When the gravy becomes darker in color and you start to see oil separating out from it mix in the chick peas. Saute well and allow the masala to coat the chickpea nicely .
Now, add water to the gravy and bring it to a boil. Add the washed rice and bring it to a boil once again. Give a gentle stir; cover the pan and simmer. When the rice is half done, mix in the remaining mint and cilantro. Continue to cook until the rice is done (about 8-10 mins overall). Fluff up the rice with a fork and transfer to a serving bowl. Right amount of water and cooking time is the key to cook the biryani to a grainy perfection. Also, make sure to stir gently always as basmati rice tends to get broken/mashed very easily.
Mix the food color in a tablespoon of water and pour it circularly on top of the rice. Mix gently and garnish with cashew nuts sautéed in ghee. Serve warm with raitha and chips.
We always make our biryanis ahead of time to allow the rice to absorb the rich flavors from the spices. Have you ever tasted a day old biryani, OMG it tastes absolutely heavenly!
To make vegetable briyani you can use the same recipe. Just replace chick pea with some assorted vegetables (carrots, green peas, cauliflower, green peas, potatoes etc.)