Monday, March 21, 2011

Mushroom Biryani (Vegetarian Rice)

This is a hearty Mushroom Biryani that will satisfy even a meat lover.  It works great as a main dish or can be served as a side dish with any favorite curries.   I adapted this recipe from a cookbook called American Masala by Suvir Saran.  He did not have onions or green peas in his dish, but I thought his idea of using buttermilk instead of yogurt in the dish was wonderful.  Kudos Mr. Saran.

Start by parboiling the rice.  (I used brown basmati, but white basmati rice is great too)
You will want to wash and drain 2 cups of rice and add:
6 whole black peppercorns
4 cloves
4 green cardamoms
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick

Add 10 cups of water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling allow to cook for 6-10 minutes.  I suggest cooking the white rice for about 6 minutes and the brown rice for about 10 minutes.  Once the rice is somewhat cooked, but not fully, drain and set aside.

Slice 1lb of white button mushrooms.
Tip: I used an egg slicer to get nice even slices. 

You will also need to slice two medium onions (not pictured)

Gather the dry seasoning:
4-5 dry chilies (broken)
6-10 whole black peppercorns)
6 green cardamoms pods
3 black cloves
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 Tbs salt (or to taste)
1 Tbs of curry powder

handful of fresh curry leaves

In a large pan add 3-4 Tbs of canola oil on medium-high heat.  Once heated add your dry seasoning  starting with the whole cardamom pods, cumin seeds, chili pieces and curry leaves.  Fry until fragrant.

Add the onions, mushrooms and the powdered seasoning (turmeric, coriander powder, curry powder and salt).  Cook until mushrooms release their liquid.

Add 1 cup of buttermilk and allow to simmer.  If you don't have buttermilk you can make your own by adding one Tbs of white vinegar to cow's milk.  You can always substitute yogurt as well.

Add 1 1/2 cups cooked green peas.  I used frozen peas. 

Allow Mushroom/Pea mixture to simmer for 5 minutes. Check for seasoning here.  You may need to add more salt to the dish.

Butter an oven safe baking dish (9x13) size works well. I used a 12x12 baking dish.  Add a layer of your parboiled rice.  I did pick out the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves and bay leaves from the rice before layering it the baking dish. 

Now layer some of your mushroom mixture.  Proceed to layer rice then mushroom mixture again.  Pour any gravy from the mushroom mixture around the baking dish. 
 You want to end with a layer of rice on top.  Take a 1/2 cup of water and gently pour it along the edges of the baking dish so it gives the rice some extra liquid to steam in the oven.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Place a tight fitting lid or tin foil over the baking dish to trap all the steam.   Cook in the oven for 35 minutes.    Once cooked, allow the dish to sit covered for additional 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 6-8 people.  Enjoy.