Brown Basmati Biryani with Chickpeas and Cashews
Serves 6 to 8
Biryani is a lavish rice pilaf that when prepared especially for vegans becomes the perfect one stop meal. Prepared with brown rice it’s packed with nourishing goodness: for better tasting results using long grain brown rice I’ve borrowed the precooking technique from tadig (page XX) for a hearty brown rice main dish with with lighter, firmer grains of rice tossed with toothsome vegetables, chewy raisins and crunchier toasted nuts.
If desired, toss a few green cardamom pods on top of the rice after you’ve added all the vegetables and right before the final cooking step, but be sure to either remove them before serving.
Serve with Cashew Yogurt Sauce and a chutney for a complete meal; the leftovers reheat beautifully.
Precooked brown basmati
1 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
8 cups water
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup cashew pieces or sliced almonds
½ cup golden raisins
1 large red onion, peeled, sliced in half and sliced into thin 1/4 inch wide half moons
2 cups diced cauliflower florets
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or virgin coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 inch cube ginger, peeled and minced
2 green chile peppers, finely minced
2 teaspoons garam masala spice blend
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
One 14 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
½ cup vegetable broth or water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1. Place the rice in a large metal mesh strainer and thoroughly rinse with cold water. In a large 4 quart pot bring the water to a rolling boil over high heat. Stir in the salt and then add the rice. Boil the rice for 35 to 45 minutes; the rice is done when the grains are tender with a slightly chewy finish, but no crunchy cores in the rice. Drain the rice in the metal strainer and spread rice onto the bottom of a large mixing bowl. Set rice aside to cool for 20 minutes.
2. In a large, deep 12 inch skillet over medium heat, dry roast the cashews for 3 minutes or until just starting to turn golden on the edges; add the raisins and stir fry for 30 seconds or until raisins just begin to turn golden brown, but watch carefully to avoid burning. Transfer the nuts and raisins to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the onion to the dry pan and fry for 5 minute or until the onions are softened and golden, then add 1 tablespoon of oil and fry for another 5 minutes until lightly caramelized and soft; transfer to a plate. Transfer the onions to a separate dish. Add the cauliflower and sauté for 5 minutes or until the edges of the cauliflower are browned, then transfer to the plate with the onions. If necessary add a teaspoons or two of oil while sautéing the cauliflower to prevent any sticking.
4. Add the remaining oil and fry the garlic, ginger, and chiles for 1 minute. Add the rice, onions, cauliflower, garam masala, turmeric, chickpeas, green peas, vegetable broth or water, and salt. Stir well, partially cover the pan and cook until rice and vegetables are heated throughout, about 6 to 8 minutes. If the rice is still damp, uncover and continue to cook for until dry. Turn off heat, fold in the cashews, raisins, lime juice, and cilantro. If preferred, spread the rice onto a platter and sprinkle with cashew raisin mixture for an elegant dish. Sprinkle serve with any chutney or Cashew Yogurt Sauce.