Sunday, March 3, 2013

Vegetable Biryani with Riata Sauce

This was one of my favorite dishes in India. I pretty much celebrated every time we got it for lunch (instead of our same daily-meal of rice, sambar, chapatis, and similar-tasting curry. Delicious and healthy, but the same thing every day makes a foodie cranky). Since all of our food was delivered I really didn't cook much at all, save for our Thanksgiving day feast. So, to learn how to cook Indian food, we had our amazing, kind, and gentle care taker Gopal come over with his beautiful family and teach us how to cook a few Indian dishes. Gopal pretty much made up these recipes himself, and they're amazing so I'd like to share them with the world.

I finally had the opportunity to make this dish for an Oscar party last weekend, where all the guests were assigned a dish from a country represented in the Oscars. By fortunate coincidence, I got India (from Life of Pi)

Unfortunately, it's fresh curry leaves and fresh double-beans are not stocked in the supermarkets during the winter in the mid west. SO, i substituted curry powder (so not the same thing, I know) and canned red kidney beans (or I would have, if I had realized that I don't actually own a can opener, a fact I have apparently been oblivious of since I moved into my new apartment 3 months ago x.x) Since this is an Indian recipe, you can pretty much substitute/remove/add any vegetables or seasonings you want to this. These are just the ones my dear old Gopal choose to use in his version of biryani.

Note: It's easiest to just prepare each vegetable as you go along instead of preparing all before starting.

Vegetable Biryani
from Gopal

5 Tbs. oil
1 handful fresh curry leaves
1 small red onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, cut into thin strips and then halved
3 small carrots, cut into 1/4" thick half moons
2 handfuls of green beans, chopped until 1/4" circles
1 small russet potato, diced
large handful of fresh double-beans
1 handful cilantro, chopped
2.5 Tbs. ginger/garlic paste
1/2 cup coconut paste
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
green chillies (optional)
3 cups basmati rice
1 Tbs. salt, divided

     Note: after each individual item is added to the pot, stir to incorporate new ingredients and cook for 1 minute before adding the next ingredient.

1. In a bowl, soak the rice. Dice the potato and soak in a separate bowl, same with the double-beans.
2. Heat the oil on medium heat in a stock pot
3. Add curry leaves, onion, bell pepper, carrots, green beans, potato, and double beans. Cover with lid and let cook for 5 minutes.
4. Drain rice and add fresh water to soak.
5. Add garlic/ginger paste, cover, and let cook for 2 minutes. Add coconut paste, cover, and let cook for 2 more minutes.
6. Add 2 tsp. salt and cover. Then add diced tomato and cover.
7. Add 6 cups water, turn on high heat, add remaining 1 tsp. salt and bring to a boil.
8. Drain rice, add to pot, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 5.
9. Set pot aside with lid on for 15 minutes.
10. Serve with raita sauce.

Riata Sauce
from Gopal

1 cucumber
1/2 medium red onion, diced small
500 mL yogurt
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup diced cilantro

1. Combine all ingredients and serve over biryani.

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