“Can vegetarian food be made interesting as well?” wrote a reader recently. “Yes, of course”, was my enthusiastic answer. With a little bit of creativity and innovation, even a vegetarian meal can be an absolute delight. Though, I am a hardcore non vegetarian, I always opt for a vegetarian meal whenever I require a change from the regular stuff. Ever since the “Aloo Saunfiyana” recipe was well received on the blog, I have decided to start posting all vegetarian recipes that have been lying in my folder for eons now.
One such interesting recipe is the Subzi Cheese Biryani, which was the outcome of my sisters creative thought process. This dish was the outcome of a very healthy debate between my sister and me as what’s the best thing to make when you have almost every vegetable at your disposal. Since the two of us are the greatest biryani fans on the planet, we decided that biryani it would be, but hero of the dish would not be the veggies but a very special ingredient “cheese”. That decided, my sister, pen and paper in tow, sat conceptualizing the biryani while her brother went on and got into executing the dish.
When we decided to make this biryani, it was planned like the way a usual biryani was to be made, and we weren’t too sure of how the final product would turn up but wanted to go ahead with it nevertheless. I tried and kept the oil and fats to a minimum considering that there is a generous amount of cheese, enough to cause the mild hearted a few jitters. I must say it is time consuming but worth every bit of the effort
We had it with Prawns in Butter Garlic Sauce. The verdict? Awesome. The joy of cooking a meal together is priceless. Try doing it sometimes, I promise it will leave a smile on your face and memories in your heart.
Subzi Cheese Biryani
2 cups long grained basmati rice
· 100 grams mixed vegetables (I used French beans, cauliflowers, green capsicum & green peas)
· 2 medium onions- finely chopped
· 2 medium tomatoes- finely chopped
· 200 grams thick curd- beaten well
· 3 tablespoons cashew paste
· 100 grams processed cheese – for grating
· 3 cheese cubes- sliced for garnishing
· Assortment of whole spices (2 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 1 small bay leaf)
· 1 ½ tablespoon ginger—garlic paste
· 1 teaspoon coriander powder
· 1 teaspoon red chili powder
· 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
· 1 teaspoon garam masala powder (all spice powder)
· 4 large tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
· Salt to taste
· Juice of half a lime
· Some milk
· Few leaves of coriander and mint for garnishing.
For the rice:
· Soak the rice for atleast 20-25 minutes in water before you begin working with it.
· In a large pan heat water equivalent to double the quantity of rice. When the water starts boiling, add in the rice.
· Add some ghee to the rice. This will ensure that the grains don’t stick to each other. Also, add some salt.
· When the rice is about ¾th done, take out from heat drain it on a colander and let it cool for a while.
· Take out a large spoonful of the rice and keep aside.
· Add ½ teaspoon of the turmeric powder to the milk and stir well. Pour this milk on the rice that has been kept aside and mix well. This will give the rice a nice yellow colour.
For the gravy:
· In a deep pan add the oil or ghee and let it heat. Once the oil is hot add in the whole masalas and let them crackle.
· Once the masalas are done, add the onions and cook till the onions are nicely browned. Add in the ginger garlic paste and cook well.
· Add in the chopped tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are pulpy. This is important since if the tomatoes are not well cooked; the gravy will separate.
· When the tomatoes are pulpy, add in all the spice powders (coriander, red chili, turmeric& the garam masala powder) and cook well. Add a little water if required.
· Now add the cashew paste and cook till the oil leaves the sides and the mixture has thickened a bit. Add in the curd and let it simmer for about 7 minutes
· Add in the vegetables, salt and cook for 5 more minutes.
· Finally, add in the juice of lime and mix.
For the assembling:
· Line a heavy deep bottom vessel with ghee and pour in half of the gravy.
· Now , on top of this add a layer of half the rice; grate half the cheese on top the rice. Also, add some of the coloured rice to this
· Repeat the layering process with the other half of the gravy, rice and cheese
· Slice the cubes into fine squares and layer on the top.
Seal the vessel tightly and cook for about 30* minutes on medium flame and for another 10 minutes on a low flame.
Once done take out from the heat and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes.
Serve with refreshing raita.