After I published this post, I shared it on Jonell Galloway’s Facebook page “Culinary Travel by Jonell Galloway, The Rambling Epicure”. One of Jonell’s readers got involved when I mentioned the multiple spellings of “biryani” and Jonell asked whether it was the English spelling of the word. I incorrectly answered Hindi. Anuradha Venkatesh Chenji, who is a Culinary blogger from Chennai, India, wrote: Monte Mathews, Indian languages all have phonetic scripts so there really can’t be any ‘variations in spelling. The spellings, including those in the article, are English translations, as Jonell says. That said, it’s a good recipe…Marinating the vegetables in the yogurt and spice mix for a few hours is what we do if we have time. She goes on to say “The most accepted version of the history of the dish is that it originated in battle camps. Finally, she sent a second message. It read “the Southern state in the blog post is spelt “Andhra” and it does have a biryani which evolved later–a much spicier (chili spice) dish that most versions! I can’t thank Anuradha enough for making these clarifications. I have now added them to the original post. And here it is..
It takes some nerve to serve a Biryani to a friend whose background is Indian. But that’s what I did. And to my great happiness, my friend gave it not only her seal of approval, she also came back for seconds. And so I wanted to share this recipe with you. It’s from Food & Wine and a writer named Kristen Stevens. This version is perfect for right now while the farm stands brim with great vegetables. The aroma is intoxicating—full of cumin, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and garam masala—all of which have made their way into American supermarkets as our South Asian neighbors have come the US. It’s not at all difficult to make. I doubled the recipe for dinner party purposes. The original served 3 to 4 people. Now this version easily serves 8.
In India, there are almost as many variations of this spicy rice dish’s spelling as there are recipes. Biryani also appears in English as Biriyani, Biriani, Birani and Briyani. Virtually every part of India has its own version of the dish and it is popular the length and breadth of the sub-continent. In fact there’s only one region of the entire country Andrha, in the south, that doesn’t have a biryani native to it, although they later developed a particularly spicy version which evolved after the Biryani became so very popular. Biryani origins are a bit murky. It is generally believed to have originated in Persia. Some food historians believe that the Royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire combined native Indian spicy rice recipes with the Persian pilaf. Others think it was imported as is from Persia. And yet another camp claims the dish has nothing to do with Persia at all: that it was brought to the country by Arab traders. The last word on the subject may come from a man who should know what he’s talking about. Vishwanath Shenoy, owner of a chain of biryani restaurants in India, declares that one branch of biryani comes from the Mughals while another was brought to South India by the Arab traders. How’s that for splitting the difference? Here is the recipe:
An intoxicating aroma invites guests to dig into this great gluten-free side dish that can serve as a Vegetarian main too.
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 3 cups water
- 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large sweet onion, minced
- 2 carrots, diced ¼ inch
- 8 large garlic cloves, finely minced
- One 4-inch piece ginger, peeled and very finely minced
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (fresh, if in season, or canned)
- 8 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cup frozen peas
- 4 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
- 4 tablespoons raisins
- 4 tablespoons sliced almonds
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small pot, combine the basmati rice and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
- Step 2 If you have the time, mix all the tomatoes, cardamon pods, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, garam masala and sea salt together with the frozen peas, Greek yogurt and raisins and let them marinate for up to three hours.
- Step 3 In a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until it until it is softened and lightly browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
- Step 4 Add the tomatoes, cardamom pods, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, garam masala and sea salt and cook for 3 minutes. If you haven’t used the spice mix as a marinade, remove from the heat and stir in the frozen peas, Greek yogurt, raisins and sliced almonds. If you have marinated the mixture, add it all at one time
- Step 5 In an ovenproof dish, spread half of the rice. Next, layer in half of the vegetables, the rest of the rice and top with the remaining vegetables. Cover with foil, put in the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, covered, then uncover and serve.