Biryani in casserole, fried onions, chana

When it comes to rice preparations, biryani is the ultimate comfort food, but having to cook it also makes most people nervous. That's probably because it takes a lot of pre-prep and attention to make sure the rice is perfectly cooked. Follow this step by step recipe to make the perfect biryani and that too with a healthy ingredient, red chana. Biryani has to be slow cooked and make sure you use good quality whole spices to get the right flavour, better than what you eat at restaurants!

Makes: 12 cups
Serving Size: 2 cups
Serves: 6
Pre-preparation time: 6 – 8 hrs
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups rice, uncooked
  • ½ cup uncooked red chana [soak for 6 – 8 hours]
  • ¼ cup French beans, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup carrots, chopped finely
  • ¼ cup green peas
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 cup tomato purée [made from 3 large tomatoes]
  • 1/3 cup fresh curd, made from toned milk [or peanut curd for vegans]
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ tsp jeera [cumin seeds]
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped finely
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1½ tsp lemon juice [juice of ½ lemon]
  • Pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt or as per taste

For the garlic paste

  • 7 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 green chillies, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp water

Preparation

  1. Rinse the rice and soak for 20 minutes.
  2. Pressure-cook the chana for 8 – 10 whistles.
  3. Heat ghee in a pan; add the jeera. Once the seeds begin to splutter, add red chillies, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks. Sauté for 1 minute over a low flame.
  4. Add rice, 4 cups of water and 1 tsp salt. Cover and cook over a low flame.
  5. When the rice is half cooked, add saffron along with the water in which it was soaked; add lemon juice. Cover and cook until all the water dries up. [Keep checking that the rice does not get burnt at the bottom].
  6. Remove from heat and cool. Discard the red chillies, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks.
  7. For the garlic paste, grind the ingredients together in a blender.
  8. Heat 2 tsp oil and sauté the paste for 5 minutes.
  9. Stir in the tomato purée and add 1 tsp salt; sauté for another 8 minutes.
  10. Add the boiled chana, carrots, beans, peas and curd; cook for 5 – 7 minutes.
  11. Add sugar and remove from heat.
  12. In a separate pan, heat 1 tsp oil and sauté the onion until dark brown.

To Serve

  1. Preheat the oven at 160C° for 7 – 10 minutes.
  2. In a baking dish, first spread the chana.
  3. Top with the rice.
  4. Garnish with the sautéed onions and bake in pre-heated oven for 5 – 7 minutes.
  5. Serve hot.
  6. Complete your plate with a bowl of mint raita.

This recipe was first published in the April 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.

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