National Vegetarian Week
DAY ONE – this is my first of five recipes to celebrateNational Vegetarian Week.
I just love this biryani and have served it a number of times. It has an amazing depth of flavour and will be a hit with both vegetarians and non vegetarians.
Biryani originated in Persia and the name derives from the Farsi word ‘Birian’ How Biryani arrived in India is is a little unclear but one legend has it that Timor, the lame brought it down from Kazakhstan via Afghanistan to Northern India. Another story is that Mumtaz Mahal (the beauty who sleeps in Taj Mahal) created biryani as a “complete meal” to feed the army. Other say the dish really originated in West Asia where the Nomads would burry an earthen pot full of meat, rice and spices in a pit, eventually the pot was dug up and there was the Biryani.
The traditional way of cooking biryani is to seal the pot with dough to seal in the flavours. Mr D’s Thermal Slow Cooker does a similar job keeping in all the wonderful tastes of the exotic spices.
This weekend we made two thermal cookers full for a birthday party and as usual it all got eaten.
Please give it a try because I am sure that you and your guests will love it.
For the mushrooms
- a large handful of mint
- a large handful of coriander
- a large handful of basil
- 6 tbsp natural yogurt
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 small green chillies, deseeded
- 25g ghee or vegetable oil
- 200g mixed wild mushrooms
For the rice
- a pinch of saffron threads
- 3 star anise
- 8 cardamom pods
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 pieces of mace (optional)
- 1 tsp of turmeric
- 1 tsp of salt
- 2 cups of rice
- 3¾ cups of water
- Put the saffron in a cup of hot milk to soak.
- Place the mint, coriander, basil, yoghurt, garlic and chillies in a blender and blend until they become a smooth paste.
- Heat the ghee or oil in the thermal cookers inner pot and when hot add the mushrooms and cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
- Add the paste and continue to cook for 4 minutes on medium heat.
- Put the star anise, cardamom pods, fennel seeds, mace, turmeric and salt, along with the water in a pan and bring to the boil.
- Add the rice, simmer for 1 minute.
- Spread the rice, water and the spices from the rice water on top of the mushrooms in the inner pot.
- Pour over the saffron/milk mixture.
- Bring the inner pot back to the boil, put the lid on.
- Turn off the heat and transfer the inner pot into the vacuum-insulated outer container.
- Close the lid and leave to thermal slow cook without power for a minimum of 3 hours. If you leave it longer it will not matter.
- Serve with nan bread or chapatti.
- You can put some cashew nuts on the top if you like.
I always feel that I do not do enough recipes for vegetarians. I have a few in my cookbook but not many, so last week I made a promise to one of customers who came to buy a thermal cooker from me, that I would do one a day for National Vegetarian Week.
National Vegetarian Week is now in its eighteenth year and is an established date in the food calendar. The Week gives schools, canteens, caterers, restaurants, libraries and individuals a reason to focus on increasing fruit and veg consumption, revamp their veggie options, launch new menus, look at the issues around food or simply try something different.
National Vegetarian Week is coordinated by the Vegetarian Society, an educational charity formed in 1847.