A biryani, an Indian rice-based dish, is an ideal way to improve nutrition by augmenting the grain with a variety of vegetables. Traditional recipes sauté whole seeds, pods, or chiles to add complex, understated flavor. If you prefer to remove the whole spices before serving, skip the sautéing step. Instead, tie the seed mixture in a cheesecloth bag to cook with the rice and potatoes; slip it out when the dish is done. For a vegetarian entrée, add edamame for protein.
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds, divided
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 green cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
2 dried red chiles
1 bay leaf
1 cup sliced red onion
1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3/4 pound red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 cup frozen green peas
How to Make It
Place 1 teaspoon cumin seeds in a small skillet over medium-high heat, and cook for 2 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan; cool completely. Place cumin seeds in a spice or coffee grinder; process until finely ground. Set aside.
Heat canola oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until cumin browns, stirring frequently. Add onion, carrot, 1 teaspoon salt, and green beans, and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice, turmeric, and potatoes. Add 2 cups water; bring mixture to a boil. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, ground cumin seeds, and garam masala. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in peas. Cover and let mixture stand 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
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It sounded great, and smelled great, but didn't taste very good at all. I love spices and spicy food, but this was just like someone threw everything in their cabinet into the dish and it was so heavily spiced I couldn't taste the food. Plus, biting into a whole peppercorn? Not fun. I had to substitute ground spices for some of the whole ones, maybe that was the problem.
My husband picked this recipe out for us to try and we were not disappointed. It came together really quickly and was incredibly tasty. Next time, I'll try putting the whole spices into a cheesecloth bag and removing the bag after the dish is done cooking... getting a few of those whole spices in a bite can be a bit much. Also, adding some coconut milk to the leftovers yielded a nice creamy, curry-like dish the next day.
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