India is filled with so many different versions of rice cooked with vegetables. There is one called tairi in UP which is more like a pulao. Its rice infused with vegetables and cooked without any spicy ground paste. Then there is kashmiri pulao which contains sweet elements like pomegranate seeds and kesar milk. Finally the well-known Hyderabadi Dum Biryani which is heavy due to the addition of curds and spices. In South India, we have masala bhath which also contains the known elements of pulao along with freshly ground coconut.

When it comes to making lunch on a Sunday I prefer these one-pot dishes like Pulao, Biryani or Khichdi. They are filling and delicious. Sometimes we also enjoy Mayank’s yummy dal chawal which is actually comfort food for the entire family.

The biryani I made yesterday for our Sunday lunch is one I learnt from my friend and neighbor Cecilia. Its called ‘red biryani’ as it does come out quite red. Mine was orange as I added a little less of the secret ingredient. I didnt want to make it too spicy for the kids. Whats the secret ingredient? Well, its this amazing sambar powder she makes at home. I happen to have a pouch of it which I carefully hide in my kitchen and use for special dishes like this one.

Ingredients :

  • 2 teaspoons Butter
  • 2-3 teaspoons refined oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cups Basmati rice
  • 1.5 cups finely chopped mixed vegetables (capsicum, carrot, beans, peas)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut in cubes
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 7-8 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green chillies
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • Few pods of cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons sambar powder
  • 1 lemon
  • salt

Procedure :

  1. Soak rice for 5 minutes and wash till milkiness goes away.
  2. Heat butter with a teaspoon of oil in a cooker. Saute onion till translucent.
  3. Add whole spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom.
  4. Grind green chillies with ginger, garlic with a pinch of salt. Fry this masala in the oil.
  5. Add tomatoes and cook till they leave oil from the sides.
  6. Add finely chopped vegetables, potatoes and continue cooking for 5 minutes on medium heat.
  7. Mash the vegetables and add 2 teaspoons of oil more, if necessary.
  8. Add finely chopped pudina leaves and coriander leaves.
  9. Add turmeric powder and sambar powder.
  10. Mix in the washed rice. Add salt as per taste (approximately one teaspoon per cup of rice will be required).
  11. Add water to the rice in the ratio 2:1. That means 2 cups of water for every cup of rice.
  12. Add juice of one lime.
  13. Cover the lid of the cooker and allow it to cook on medium heat for 7-8 minutes.
  14. Take the cooker off the heat and cover it with a wet cloth.
  15. Serve piping hot with mixed vegetable raita.