Wednesday, April 18, 2007


The food section in yesterday's newspaper included an extremely long and complicated biryani recipe which caught my eye. Quite a production, this dish, but I saw that it held potential.

I started off by making a fresh batch of ghee which is the easiest thing in the world. I can't for the life of me understand why people will pay what they do for store bought ghee as it takes nothing but butter to make it. And when you make it at home, you get to scrape all the tasty bits of the bottom of the pan and eat them.

After a quick trip to the store for cashews and tiny potatoes I got started. Like I said, the recipe is long so I had to read it through a few times to get the procedure down. I started by crumbling saffron threads into warm milk and soaking the basmati rice. Starting with a base of richly browned onions I then sauteed tiny new potatoes, cauliflower, and carrots in stages. I made up a paste of ginger and garlic which was sauteed as well, its steam nearly knocking me out once I added it to the pan. Then a pile of different spices--so much flavor! All the spiced veggies are added to the rice and the whole thing is baked under cover and then served with a knockout spiced tomato gravy. Not by any stretch of the imagination a quick fix dish, but rather the sort of thing that demonstrates just how much can be brought to a meal by taking ones time and carefully adding layers of flavor. I have only two gripes--the original recipe vastly underestimates the amount of time needed to get the vegetables tender. This is not a dish where you want your vegetables salad bar crunchy and, despite longer cooking times on the potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower, I could have cooked them even longer for a better overall texture. I ended up transfering the leftovers to a covered casserole dish with a few tablespoons of water and nuking everything together to get the veggies tender enough. But you don't want them falling apart, either, so a bit of care is needed in getting the veggies just right.

And darn The Oregonian! Usually they have all their recipes available online but they only included the recipe for the tomato gravy. So I had to type out the entire biryani recipe in order to share it with you. I hope there aren't any typos. I tried to adjust the recipe into something that made more sense to me in terms of timing. Hopefully it will work for you, too. The recipe (all 4 pages of it) can be found here. And I hope that on a quiet, lazy day, you'll take the time to give this delicious dish a try.

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