Rice is a staple of India, especially in the south. It is very versatile. Plain cooked rice has no flavour and takes the flavours of the curries you add to it. In the south, there are variations of gravies like sambar, rasam, vathakuzhambu, molagootal etc. Some of them are flavoured with tamarind to give a spicy and sour mouthwatering dish with lentils and vegetables. Added to plain cooked rice, you have a complete meal. Rice tastes different when flavoured with lemon, mango(recipe in previous posts), coconut or curds (yoghurt). A meal is ended with a bowl of refreshing curd rice which clears your palate and cools your system (other rice recipes in following blog posts)
Biryani comes in different forms. Every city in the country has a version of biryani. The Persian / afghani influenced pilau using basmati rice to the fiery spicy Andhra biryani to the more local Dindigul and Donne biryani using short grained rice. They all are different but they all are scrumptious. Just writing this is making my mouth water and longing for a plate of biryani.
Vegetarian Pulao and Raita
This recipe is long overdue and written especially for Lisa Wilson.
1 cup Basmati rice
1cup vegetables (carrot, beans, potato, cauliflower, mushrooms, peas, capsicum) – at least two of them – cut into pieces onion – 2 thinly sliced
1 tomato – chopped
6 cloves garlic – minced
2 inches ginger – minced
2 tbsp mint leaves
2 tbsp coriander leaves (cilantro)
2 bay leaf
1 stick cinnamon
2 cardamom whole
1 tsp chilli powder – (can increase if you want it spicier)
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
1 tsp garam masala
3 tbsp oil
2 cups water or stock
salt to taste
1 tbsp cashew nuts or almonds – fried in a tsp of oil or ghee
(I sometimes cheat and use biryani masala powder which substitutes all the dry powders. If using use 3 tsp) – available in Indian stores)
Also use you can substitute vegetables and use a protein like chicken, shrimp or lamb. if using meat, marinate in a tbsp of yoghurt and half the spice powder for an hour or two to increase the flavours. This is optional.
Soak basmati rice in water for 1/2 hour and then strain and keep aside.
Heat oil in a broad heavy pan. Add dry spices (bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves) and fry for a few seconds. Add sliced onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry till golden brown. Now add the tomatoes and continue to fry till well cooked. Now add vegetables and stir fry till they are about half cooked.
Add chopped coriander and mint, if using. Add the spices and stir-fry for a minute or two. Add salt.
Add drained rice and stir fry till the rice is well coated with the spices. (At this point, you can transfer vegetable and rice mixture into an electric rice cooker.)
Then add boiling water or stock to the pan, cover and let cook on low flame. When rice is cooked, sprinkle fried nuts and serve hot with raita.
1 onion chopped (If you like raw onions, you can add more, else less. I am not a big fan of raw onions, so I add very little or not)
1 tomato chopped
1 cucumber chopped finely or grated
1 tsp coriander leaves (cilantro)
1 green chilli chopped optional
1/2 tsp cumin powder (optional)
1 cup yoghurt
salt to taste
Mix all of the above and sprinkle cumin powder and serve.
Raita can be served with any rice or rotis as an accompaniment.