The reason I digress into my obsession with baking dishes is I came across a small oven proof dish with a lid and it got me thinking. I had always wanted to cook a proper biriyani in the dum method where you seal the lid with a simple flour and water dough. I once had such a dish in Leicester town centre with melt in the mouth mutton but I also wanted to try it as a vegan dish.
And do you know what? I have no idea as to the authenticity of this, I made this dish to my taste and I loved it. I hope you love it too. The saffron is a pricey addition but does add more to the flavour than you'd imagine but no problem if you miss it out.
The curry made double the amount of sauce I could fit into my pot, if you have a larger pot you could use more or freeze the other half to use for a delicious mid week biriyani or as a simple chickpea curry as part of a thali. The recipe is also easy to double for two, just cook more rice.
Apologies for the presentation of this, it tasted and smelled great, I wanted to get straight to eating.
Vegetable Biriyani - Serves 1 (easily doubled)
50g, Just short of 2oz Basmati rice (double if serving for two), brown basmati is lovely
2 tsp oil + 2 tsp oil (will make sense below)
Half an onion
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 clove garlic, finely grated
Pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1 red chilli, seeds removed and chopped
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 black pepper, freshly ground
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
60g, 2oz fresh tomatoes, chopped
100 ml, 3.5 fl oz water
1/2 tin drained chickpeas / garbanzo beans (approx 120g, 4oz drained weight)
1 green cardamom pod
20g, 2/3oz frozen chopped spinach or two large handfuls of fresh spinach
Pinch saffron threads (optional)
Coriander leaf (cilantro) to serve
Flour and water for sealing the dish
There are a lot of ingredients but this is easier than it looks, just get everything ready in advance. The sauce makes enough for two portions so either make this for two or freeze half for another day. Preheat the oven to 170oC, 350F or Gas Mark 5.
Slice a few half moons of onion and set to one side, then chop the rest into finely chopped pieces.
Fry the chopped onion on a medium to high heat until well softened and browning. Add in the mustard seeds then allow to pop.
If using, soak the saffron in a couple of tsp of water.
Add the garlic, salt, chopped chilli, garam masala, pepper and ground coriander to the pan, fry briefly then add the chopped tomatoes and the crushed cardamom seeds. Fry briefly then add in the water, sugar and the drained chickpeas. Bubble for 5 minutes then add in the spinach, simmer until fully thawed and combined (or add in chopped, fresh spinach and cook until wilted.)
While cooking the sauce, cook the rice for 2 minutes less than the pack says, so for my easy cook basmati, that was 8 minutes (I've also tried this with brown basmati rice and it works brilliantly. My brown basmati takes 20 minutes to cook normally so I just cooked for 18.)
When everything is ready, put a spoon of rice in the dish, top with the sauce (half or full amount as you like) then finish with the rice. If liked top with the saffron water.
Mix flour and water together to make a dough, (although this is not eaten, it's best to use a gluten free or gram flour if cooking for people who need to avoid gluten, however, I just used plain flour.)
Make the dough into a sausage shape and use to seal the lid. Bake for approx 20 minutes.
While the biriyani is baking, fry the half moons of onion in oil until browned then drain on kitchen paper.
Carefully use a blunt knife to unseal the lid, savour the amazing smells and then serve with the fried onion and coriander sprinkled on top.
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