Vegetarian Biryani with Chickpeas by Norman Musa

Vegetarian Biryani with Chickpeas - BOWLFUL. IMAGE CREDIT Luke J Albert

I visited Singapore many years ago on holiday and stumbled across a wonderful, well-organized food court whose name I can’t recall, but I vividly remember the stall that served delicious biryani. The chef showed me all the layers in the huge cooking pot he used to cook the aromatic rice. This experience always comes to mind every time I cook or read anything about biryani.

SERVES 4

FOR THE JACKFRUIT & CHICKPEA CURRY

2 tbsp ghee, butter or vegan spread, plus ½ tbsp extra for the rice
4 white onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 medium and ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
1 x 565g/20oz can jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g/14oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

FOR THE RICE

500g/1lb 2oz/2½ cups basmati rice, soaked in water for 20 minutes then drained 
3 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
3 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
10 black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp salt

FOR THE SAUCE

200g/7oz/scant 1 cup quark or natural yogurt
2.5cm/1in ginger, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp salt
1 tsp garam masala
10 sprigs of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
20 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
4 tbsp frozen peas

TO FINISH

3 tsp saffron water (a pinch of saffron threads soaked in 2 tbsp warm water for 20 minutes)
3 tsp rose water
20 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
10 sprigs of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

To make the curry, melt the ghee, butter or spread in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Next, stir in the onions and fry for 10 minutes until golden to dark brown. Remove half the onion and set aside for later use.

Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes until softened. Add the jackfruit, chickpeas and all the sauce ingredients, except for the peas, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the peas, together with 200ml/7fl oz/scant 1 cup of water, and cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. 

Meanwhile, place 1.8 litres/63fl oz/7½ cups of water in a large saucepan and add the spices and salt, then bring to the boil and stir in the rice. Cook for 8 minutes. After the first 4 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for the remaining 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and drain.

Put the remaining ghee, butter or spread in a deep saucepan and scatter over one-third of the rice followed by 1 teaspoon of the saffron water and 1 teaspoon of the rose water. Scatter over one-third of the mint, coriander and fried onions, followed by one-third of the curry. Repeat the same process until everything has been used.

Cover the pan with aluminium foil, put over a low heat and cook for 8 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the biryani rest for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and divide between four serving bowls. Serve at once.

Image: Luke J Albert

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Buy this book: Bowlful: Fresh and vibrant dishes from Southeast Asia by Norman Musa (Pavilion Books).

 

 

Published by

Andy Lynes

I'm a food and drink writer and author.

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