Vegetable Biriyani

This is a simple, flavorful rice dish that I learned to make when I lived with my family in Manipal, India. I tasted it for the first time in Dr. Meera Baliga’s home. She shared her recipe with me, and I started making it for my family for weekend lunches. It pairs well with raita – a salad made with yogurt, tomato, cucumber, and onion.

Many times when I cooked this dish in Manipal, students from the nearby university would drop by and linger way past lunch time, until we were all so hungry, that I would have to invite them to join us for lunch! I soon learned that I would need to make a huge batch, because every time I cooked it, the heavenly smell wafted all the way down the street and into the dorms! So, this recipe is for those young, talented students that made me feel like I was the best cook on earth! See, what you turned me into – a blogger and foodie for life! I love each one of you and think of you often.

For the masala mix

2 teaspoons coconut oil
5 cardamoms
5 cloves
2 1-inch piece of cinnamon
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup grated coconut
½ cup chopped cilantro

Heat coconut oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Fry for a minute, remove from heat, and cool. Add the fried ingredients, onion, coconut and cilantro to a blender, and purée.

For the rice

½ cup coconut oil
½ cup cubed potatoes
½ cup cubed carrots
6 French beans, cut into diagonal pieces
½ cup fresh green peas
½ cup chopped tomatoes
3 finely chopped green chillies
½ cup grated coconut
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups Basmathi rice, washed and drained
4 cups water
Salt to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large pan. Add the masala mix and fry for five minutes. Add the vegetables, tomatoes, chillies, grated coconut, turmeric, rice, and salt, and fry for another five minutes. Add water, and bring to boil. Once it boils, turn heat as low as possible. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff up rice, and vegetables gently with a fork, and serve piping hot.