This recipe from an old issue of Martha Stewart Living has always looked delicious to me, but the long ingredients list has always intimidated me. I decided to make it for dinner tonight because a)why not, and b)I can take it in my lunches to work this week. Plus it gives me an excuse to use my saffron from India that I was given for free.
My changes to it were numerous: I used microwave basmati rice (Patak's is excellent) instead of cooking it myself; ground cumin instead of whole cumin seeds; omitted the cloves; and used frozen cauliflower and green beans.
My thoughts: It was excellent. It tasted exactly like the biryani I order at Indian restaurants. Make sure you remove the cinnamon sticks before putting it in the baking dish, but don't omit them because cinnamon is an important flavor. Next time I will probably use fresh green beans because the frozen ones just didn't do it for me. I will forever use this microwave basmati rice because it is amazing. In general, an excellent recipe that I will make again.
from Martha Stewart
1/2 tsp saffron, crumbled
1/4 cup nonfat milk
1 1/2 cups basmati rice, soaked in cold water 10 minutes and drained
3 Tbsp canola oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 4 pieces
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
3 plum tomatoes (about 1/2lb) peeled, seeded, and chopped
6 oz green beans, cut into thirds (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 2 cups)
2 carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 oz (about 1/2 cup) cashews
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine saffron and milk in a small bowl; set aside. Place rice in a medium saucepan with 1 1/2 cups cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stir once, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until rice has absorbed all the water, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook, stirring, until golden brown and slightly crisp, about 10 minutes. Remove half the onions from pan, and reserve. Add remaining tablespoon oil along with the spices, ginger, garlic, and tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
3. Pour 1 cup water into pan; bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Add green beans, cauliflower, carrots, chickpeas, and salt; reduce heat to a simmer and cover pan. Cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes. Add peas, and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
4. Place one-third of the rice in a 3 1/2 quart heavy-bottom casserole or baking dish with a tight-fitting lid. Drizzle half the saffron milk over rice. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half the vegetable mixture to the casserole, leaving liquid behind. Place one-third of rice on top; drizzle with remaining saffron milk. Repeat with remaining vegetables and rice. Spread reserved onions over the top; sprinkle with cashews.
5. Cover, and bake until casserole is heated through and aromatic, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let cool slightly before serving.
Photo added on May 27, 2008: