** Healthy Veg Biryani Recipe **
I think I have told this many times before, and I’m never tired of saying it again that ‘Biryani’ never gets the ‘same- old- boring’ for me. I am never have had enough of Biryani, I can never turn my face off a biryani gaping at me with piggish smile.. Oooh Goodness!! Such thought even gives me a Crucio curse!! So plain and simple (not that simple though), I can compromise anything for Biryani.. Don’t ask ‘even this?’.. ‘even that?’.. I say ANYTHING! Okay??
Moving on.. Let’s also face some truth, making a flavourful, ambrosial biryani is not that easy, it is an elaborate process, takes some time to prepare and then cook, quite a few utensils to juggle at a time, all ovens will be busy making one dish and then comes the added advantage of obtaining a descent proportion of energy-dense extra weight!! You agree here right?? So over the years, instead of changing my preference for food, I have changed my preference for taste a bit and have gone to healthy than going heavy with blubbers impossible to nurture..
Going healthy means, cooking an entire dish with less oil, substituting a dish with low fat oil, using only as much Ghee (instead of Butter, Ghee or Clarified butter has more nutritional value) as required or to add a flavour to a dish, using vegetables along with protein, using rice grain which has more fiber or which is easier to digest… OR to simplify all these, cook with easily available, budget friendly ingredients, and choosing good quality products. #Homecooking or #Homemade always gives a light satisfaction to the heart, better start swearing to Home-cooking Now (or at least to ‘often’.. ‘sometimes’??)!! The taste may not be the same as ‘the restaurant’, but it’s nothing less delish than them.. We Bengalis always have this saying.. Cooking with heart and love enhances the taste of the food 😉 😉
Enough of tittle-tattle, let’s come back to business now. I already had shared a recipe for Chicken Biryani, however the Lady of the House isn’t fond of chicken at all, and relishing chicken excluding your highness!! You know how grimly grim a situation that can be!! So, I always come with a solution in such cases, I made her a healthy Paneer Biryani (Of course we all gorged on it along with her)! Taking inspiration from @Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana, I made it little more affordable and easier. P.S. Affordable not in the sense of pricing, in the sense of availability of few ingredients.
- Let’s come to rice first, I used regular white rice, which is not as fine as Basmati rice and cooked it 70% on boiling water. Do add few cloves, cardamom, 1 cinnamon stick, start anis (optional), bay leaf in the boiling water. Also add some salt in that water before adding the rice. Make sure to soak the rice in normal water for at least 30 minutes before cooking. Once the rice is done by 3/4, i.e. the rice still needs to be cooked a little while more say for another 2-5 minutes, drain the water, keep the whole spices intact inside the rice and keep it aside.
- Cut the paneer into small cubes, then dip them into hot water mixed with some salt in it, and keep the pieces dipped inside the water for about 15 minutes. Before cooking the Paneer, as my family prefers, I lightly shallow fry the paneer cubes.
- Mashrooms are always not easily available at my place, however there’s always a stock for carrots in the house, I cut few carrots into cubes, kept them aside.
- Also, Bengali families doesn’t understand Biryani without some potato in it. I got some potatoes cut into cubes, per boiled them and fried them. I didn’t deep fry the potatoes, it was little more than shallow fry, once there were some crispy edges at the potato cubes, I took them off the pan. (By this time the potatoes were fully cooked from inside)
- Also, I had dipped few saffron strands into 2-3 table spoon of milk and left them in the fridge overnight.
- Now comes the cooking part. This time I avoided deep fried onions, which is also called Birista. However you can go ahead and keep some onions deep fried before starting the actual cooking:
- Taking a big pot (measure the rice, paneer and vegies before choosing a pot), add some oil, you may add little ghee with the oil for some flavour. Add the whole spices like cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, cardamom, star anis, Black pepper. Wait for about 10-20 seconds for the spices to instill with the oil. Now add a good amount of Onions (for 3 cups of rice, add at least 3-4 medium sized onions), cook them till they turn brown.
- Now add ginger-garlic paste, add finely chopped tomato or tomato paste, cook till the raw smell of the spices are almost gone. Add the other spices like, coriander powder, cumin powder, Garam Masala Powder, black pepper powder, little turmeric (I am never in favour of using chili powder, for me it doesn’t add any nutritional value to the food apart from some colour, hence leaving this option on to you), well beaten curd (this is just, you pour some curd in a small bowl and beat it with a spoon before adding into your cooking) and cook the spice mix really well. Keeping the flame low, cover the pot for 2 minutes, then keep stirring the spice mix till it removes the oil.
- Add the carrots, paneer, some salt, chopped coriander leaves, chopped mint leaves (it is not necessary that you have to add both coriander and mint, you may use only coriander, but in case of mint, be careful to use a lot at a time, use little amount of mint leaves, I find the flavour of mint to be little strong) and cook them for about 5 minutes in low flame.
- Now paneer done, place the rice evenly as a layer over the paneer, sprinkle some salt on it, Spread the saffron water over the rice, place the fried potato cubes on top of the rice, sprinkle some garam masala powder on them, some more chopped coriander and mint leaves, few whole green chilies, a dollop of ghee; Keeping the flame at it’s lowest, cover the pot.
- Now let this composite come slowly into life for about 15-20 minutes. Don’t open the pot no matter how much you are salivating and a towel isn’t helping to hold the saliva in place!!
- After 15-20 minutes open the pot, gently stir the rice, bring them up on top, slightly try to bring the paneer up; overall very very gently try to mix the rice, paneer and masalas but don’t mix everything very well, let there be some white rice, let there be some rice turning slightly yellow, let some rice mix with the paneer gravy, also make sure the rice is cooked (it should get cooked by then); once the haphazard mixing is done, put the heat off and cover the pot for another 10 minutes before serving.
This doesn’t take a lot of time or lot of hassle to make this recipe.. You may give it a go for one of your weekend special creativities.. Happy cooking!!
Inspiration taken from @Sanjeev Kapoor Khazana