Tastes of Home
I was supposed to go home this weekend, but a deluge of work related to my Master’s project prevented that. I haven’t been home pretty much since Thanksgiving, and one of the things I miss most about heading down there is of course, the home-cooked meals. One of my favorite meals is biriyani, a rice pilaf dish that my mom usually makes with chicken, but can be made with mutton, fish (though I’ve never tried it), paneer (a type of hard Indian farmer’s cheese) or even just veggies.
I’ve never asked my mom for her recipe, mostly because it seems pretty complicated to make. Plus, it’s almost like taking a peek behind the Wizard of Oz’s curtain — some things are better enjoyed than created. But my friend Nila recommended this vegetable biriyani recipe the other day, and it seems delicious:
– 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
– 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
– 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
– 3 small green chillies (can substitute half a palmful of chili powder or red chili flakes)
– 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped and split in half
– 1 teaspoon turmeric
– 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, ground
– 1 teaspoon cloves, ground
– 1 cardamom pod, ground
– 2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 1 tablespoon ground cumin
– 1 tablespoon ground coriander
– 1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped
– 2 carrots, chopped
– 2 handfuls of green beans, chopped into one inch pieces
– 1 cup of frozen peas
– 6 cups water
– 3 cups long grain rice
– salt to taste
1) On medium high heat, heat the oil in a large pot. Add black mustard seeds if you have them.
2) Add the onions, chillies, garlic, ginger, turmeric and a pinch of salt. Saute until golden brown and soft, about 10 minutes (if you’re not using whole chilies, wait to add them).
3) Add the tomatoes and half of the cilantro and saute until the tomatoes are cooked down, about 10 minutes.
4) Add all of the spices, saute for a few minutes. Then add the carrots and saute for 5 minutes.
5) Add the green beans and cauliflower, saute for 5 minutes. Then add the peas and the water and let everything come to a strong simmer (almost to a boil).
6) Add the rice and let it simmer, covered on medium heat, for about 20 minutes. Voila!
As with any Indian recipe, there are so many spices that the shopping list really adds up — yet another con of not being at home. But I’ve been craving the stuff so badly that this might be my go-to meal this weekend anyway …