Vegetable Dum Biryani

Slow oven or Dum has become one of the most refined forms of cooking in India. Slow oven means cooking on very low flame, mostly in sealed containers, allowing the ingredients to cook, as much as possible, in their own juices.
Whole fresh spices and herbs are used for flavoring. Saffron is used as a condiment to give color and special taste to the dish.
Dum biryani is prepared by marinating the vegetables pieces in plain yogurt, turmeric, cumin- coriander powder, chili powder and cooked only by the dum, or the baking process, which is done along with cooked rice. In the end, Dum food is about aroma, when the seal is broken the fragrance floats in the air.

4 cups Basmati rice
2 Potatoes
2 Carrots
1 Beetroot
2 cups Cauliflower flowerets
Handful whole Beans
2 cups Peppers (any color)
3 Onions
2 cups Mint
2 tsp Ginger-garlic paste
3 Green chilies
2 cups Curd
4 tsp Biryani masala
4 Bay leaves
2” Butter stick
4 Bread slices
Cashew nuts
Pinch saffron

Chop vegetables in good big size. Boil beetroot in water for sometime in micro oven. This is to remove color from beetroot. Drain water and add to vegetables.

Cook basmati rice (1:2 water) in a rice cooker. Add couple whole elachi, cinnamon stick, cloves, salt and 2 tsp oil to the rice while cooking.

Marinate the vegetables pieces in plain yogurt, turmeric, cumin- coriander powder, chili powder for 15 minutes.

Take 4 tsp of oil in a skillet add shahi jeera, and whole masala items (star anise, mace, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, elachi) fry for a few minutes then add chopped onions, chilies, bay leaf and fry till the onions are translucent then add ginger-garlic paste, chopped mint and all the marinated vegetables along with the curd. Cook on medium flame till they are just about cooked. Add 4 tsp of biryani masala powder and salt and mix well and cook with the lid on for a few minutes more.

Transfer from the skillet to a baking casserole dish. Spread layers of vegetables and cooked rice alternatively and repeat till everything has been layered. Add a pinch of saffron to 2 tsp of water and sprinkle/spread on the rice. Add some butter or oil and cover with aluminum foil and cook in a preheated oven (350 degrees) for about 20 - 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven mix thoroughly and garnish with fried cashews, fried onions, fried bread and chopped coriander. Or saute 2 onions in 2 tsp of oil and spread on the rice before baking.

Raita or kurma is a good side dish with Vegetable Biryani. A one pot meal that is filling and healthy.
The difference between biryani and pulov is that while pulov may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients. Dum enhances slow cooking.

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