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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A - Z Indian Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi Series ~ H for Hyderabadi Vegetable Dum Biryani

Biryani has evolved over centuries and cooking styles, from an army dish to a tantalizing treat fit for royals, ending up being a synonym to the local culture. The many varieties and variations of biryanis reflect the gastronomic histories of the regions, the local touches and the preferred regional tastes. The kitchens of Hyderabadi Nizams, of course inspired by Mughal kitchens seem to be the torchbearers of 'Biryani' revolution. It all started when Nizam-ul-Mulk was appointed the ruler of Hyderabad by Aurangzeb. His chefs reportedly experimented with spices and flavors to create about 50 versions of flavored meat biryanis. 

They are also credited coming up with a unique, aromatic saffron infused rice that was layered, that has come to be known as the Hyderabadi Dum biryani. This non vegetarian culinary delight is complimented with some of these chefs' other creations like mirchi ka salan or baingan bhartha. An authentic Hyderabadi biryani is a popular example for a 'kutchi' style biryani. Unlike elsewhere, the meat and rice are not cooked separately in case of this biryani. The raw rice and raw meat are cooked together with exotic spices in a 'kutchi' (raw) style. The 'dum pukth' method, which means slow breathing oven in Persian was and still used to make the biryani. The ingredients are loaded in a pot and slow cooked over charcoal, sometimes from the top too. The pot is sealed around the edges with dough so that steam wouldn't escape and the meat tenderizes in it's own juices while flavoring the rice.

Being a vegetarian, I prepared the classic dish using vegetables and served it with bhindi ka salan. I used 1 inch sized pieces of green beans, chopped carrot, chopped potatoes, and green peas. Paneer, mushrooms, cauliflower or soy chunks can be additional ingredients. If using paneer, add at the end of the vegetable gravy preparation. If using soy chunks, soak them in hot water for few minutes, squeeze the water and add in the middle of vegetable cooking. The laundry list of ingredients and instructions may seem intimidating but trust me, this is not such a difficult task to master.  One doesn't need any special utensils to cook this dish. A heavy bottomed pan with a lid will do. A non-stick one, preferably. And if your's is a full fledged Indian kitchen, probably even don't need to run to the store for spices.

I have divided the whole process into 4 steps for convenience and ease. To begin with, soak the rice and start working on step 2.
Step 1. Soaking and cooking rice.
Step 2. Preparing a vegetable gravy. (Do this while the rice is being soaked and cooked, to cut down the biryani making time.)
Step 3. Layering the rice and vegetable gravy in a pot / pan. (This is child's play and takes less than 5 minutes.)
Step 4. Cooking the biryani in 'dum' style. (One minute of prep work and about 25 minutes of cooking with no supervision.)

Ingredients for cooking rice: (Step 1)
1.5 cups of basmati rice
3 cloves
1 inch cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
3 cardamom
1/2 tsp. salt
6 cups of water

Ingredients for vegetable gravy: (Step 2)
3 tbsp. ghee / oil
1 tsp. shahjeera / caraway seeds
3 green cardamom
1 black cardamom
3 cloves
1 inch piece cinnamon
1 star anise
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
2 green chillies, sliced
1 tsp. ginger - garlic paste
4 cups of chopped vegetables 
1 cup yogurt
1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. mild variety chili powder
1 tsp. biryani masala / garam masala
Salt to taste
2 tbsp. each - almonds, cashews and raisins

Ingredients for layering: (Step 3)
1 large onion, thinly sliced (or 1/2 cup fried onions)
1/4 cup finely minced cilantro
1/4 cup finely minced, mint leaves
1/4 cup warm milk + 2 pinches of saffron strands
1 tbsp. ghee
2 tsp. rose water / kewra water

Prep work:
1. Rinse basmati rice in two or three changes of water and soak the rice in enough water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water after the soaking period.
2. Cut and prepare the vegetables that are going to be used for vegetable gravy.
3. Add yogurt to a small bowl, whisk until smooth and keep aside.
4. Add two pinches of saffron strands to 1/4 cup of warm milk and keep aside.

Step 1 - Directions for cooking rice: 
* Rinse basmati rice in two or three changes of water and soak the rice in enough water for about 30 minutes. Drain the water after the soaking period.

* Add 6 cups of water, cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, cardamom, and salt to a pot on high flame and bring it to a rolling boil.
 * Add the soaked and drained rice and gently mix once. Do not cover and continue to cook on high flame, until the rice is 80% cooked. (It took less than 7 minutes.) 
* The rice should be almost done, with a slight bite at the center of the grain when tasted.

* Immediately drain the rice in a colander. Rinse the rice with cold running water to avoid further cooking. Drain completely, fluff and keep aside.
Step 2 - Preparing vegetable gravy:
* Heat 3 tbsp. ghee in a pan and add half the onions and a pinch of salt. Fry them until golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon by gently pressing against the edges of the pan to remove the excess of oil. Drain on the absorbent towels and keep aside. (We will use it for layering, the 3rd step.)

* Add a little more ghee / oil if needed to the same pan and add shahjeera / carom seeds, bay leaf, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and saute for few seconds, until the shahjeera starts to brown.
* Now add the chopped onions and saute on low flame until golden brown. 

* Then add green chillies and the ginger - garlic paste and saute until the raw smell goes away. Add turmeric, chili powder, biryani masala and stir well.

* Next add the chopped vegetables and salt to taste. Saute for a minute or two. 
* Add yogurt and saute for a minute, on low flame since the yogurt may curdle. 
* Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water, cover the pan with a lid and cook until the vegetables are done. (Or the vegetables can be pressure cooked for 2 - 3 whistles. Remember that the sourness from the yogurt increases the cooking time.)  Add raisins, cashews and almonds and mix well.

* Check the taste and add any seasonings if needed. If the gravy appears watery, cook on high flame, continuously stirring until most of the water dries up. The final gravy should be on a thicker side.

Step 3 - Layering the biryani:
* Choose a heavy bottomed pot, preferable a non stick one. Spread evenly half of the vegetable gravy at the base of the pan.
 * Spread half of the rice over it, in an even layer. Sprinkle half of the fried onions (the onions we fried before making the vegetable gravy), cilantro, mint, and saffron milk, evenly over the rice. (Fried onions are not pictured.)

* Repeat the vegetable gravy and rice layers. Sprinkle the remaining fried onions, cilantro - mint and saffron milk. Pour a tbsp. of ghee all over.
* Finally sprinkle the rose water evenly.

Step 4 - The "dum" cooking part:
* While layering the biryani, heat a iron griddle / tawa on medium flame. 
* Seal the pot tightly with an aluminium foil and cover it with a lid. Or seal the pot with a moist, cotton towel or cloth and cover with a lid. Or cover the pot with a lid and seal it with a dough ring.
* Place the sealed pot on the hot tawa and cook on the lowest heat setting / lowest flame, for about 25 to 30 minutes.
* Let it sit for about 10 minutes, once the rice is cooked. Fluff and serve with a spicy gravy.

So far in my Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi series,
A for Ambur Biryani
B for Basanti Pulao / Misthi Pulao
C for Corn - Fenugreek Greens Pulao
D for Donne Biryani

E for Ek Toap na Dal Bhaat

F for Fada ni Khichdi
G for Gutti Vankaya Biryani

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#99.


Kalyani said...

This step by ste recipe is a great help suma ! Such an aromatic , rich dish to dig into ..

sushma said...

Such a flavorful and yummy looking veg biryani.

vaishali sabnani said...

We are great Biryani fans and even though I have tried the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani , this version is different and sounds absolutely delicious ! Love the way you have your steps and explanation !

Gayathri Kumar said...

This is such a classic biryani recipe. I tried this once for dad and we loved it. But never tried making it again. The step wise pictures are so helpful in understanding the process.

Srividhya said...

We cannot miss this biryani when we are doing the biryani series. :-) Great one Suma. Love how you layered the biryani.

Harini R said...

It is an amazing dum biryani with all the layers. Perfectly done. My husband loves this biryani and he says he would learn to make it too :)

Srivalli said...

Awesome preparation Suma and with step by step this recipe is easy for any new cook too. Your intros always make an excellent read and I enjoyed it much! Looking for that Bindi ka salan, will check it or else if not posted, do soon pls..:)

Sharmila Kingsly said...

This is really a treat.. Yummy biryani and perfectly cooked..

Pavani said...

This is such a classic biryani recipe! It looks very tempting and flavourful! Thank you for sharing

cookwithrenu said...

Hydrebadi Biryani looks so delicious and rich with all the vegetables and the nuts in it. A good step by step explanation.

Swati said...

A favorite among the biryani lovers.a wholesome and delicious meal loaded with veggies and nuts. Very nicely explained and detailed recipe.