Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!
It’s no news that Indian food is a favourite in my house and a cuisine I love to cook, eat and learn about. Thus, it is no surprise that I was thrilled at this months Indian themed Daring Cooks challenge.
I adore spices and appreciate how they each bring a unique presence to a dish. I love to sub a different spice here and there and see how different the results are, it really keeps your basic curry recipes interesting and adaptable when spices run out or you just want to mix things up.
What I love the most is the canvas to add anything to. Along with mixing your spice mix up a bit, your additions to your curry base can make for a totally different experience each time. To the same curry base, you can create varied meals by using different vegetables – sweet potato, squash and spinach; courgettes, aubergines and peppers; potatoes, peas and carrots; lentils and greens; beans and tomatoes; cauliflower and broccoli; pineapple and banana; even add tofu, seitan or tempeh for more protein packed versions. The possibilities are endless and the mighty curry makes even the back of the fridge lurkers, delicious and luxurious.
This wonderful, mildly spiced Biryani and light curry is such an authentic addition to your Indian cuisine repertoire and is not just a delectable meal but also a nutritional powerhouse full of good for you vegetables, tastes and textures that the whole family will love.
The ingredients list is long but it doesn’t mean it is hard or complicated and if you measure out all your spices before you start cooking, you will be well organised and under control. The method is divided in to three simple stages for ease and to make sure all components are ready at the same time.
This is my interpretation of the recipe we were given by Grace. I have made the recipe vegan and made it much lower in fat (the original called for a whopping 10 tablespoons of ghee!! I have used 1 tablespoon of oil!). I have made a few substitutions, reductions and additions. I added wonderful caramelised cabbage and crisp cauliflower to add texture, flavour and nutrition to the dish and scattered each plate with nutty sesame seeds. I used brown rice for fibre and long lasting energy release and apricots for a hint of sweetness.
The original recipe came in at 736 calories per serving, a scary 43.9g of total fat, 20.6g of which is saturated fat which is 103% of the ‘daily recommended value’ (DRV), 75mg cholesterol which is 25% of the DRV.My version has just 265 calories per serving, 6.2g of total fat (10% DRV), of which just 1.6g is saturated (8% DRV, from the coconut) and 0mg cholesterol, 0% DRV. Not only is my version incredibly low in fat with zero cholesterol and still tastes amazing, it is high in dietary fiber, very high in manganese, very high in vitamin B6 and very high in vitamin C. (Source, caloriecount.about.com)
Ingredients: Serves 6
- ½ head of pointed or white cabbage, thinly shredded
- 1 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
- ½ tsp saffron threads
- 4 fresh apricots (or peaches etc)
- ½ tbsp hemp or vegetable oil (divided into 1 tsp + ½ tsp)
- 4 whole cloves
- 4 whole black peppercorns
- 1 small cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cardamom pod
- 5 spring onions, sliced (white and green parts)
- 200g/1 cup brown rice, soaked for 30 minutes and drained (or use white basmati)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 10g sesame seeds
- 500ml/2 cups water
- ½ tbsp hemp or vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped (1 tbsp minced)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp/10g desiccated coconut
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 400 g/14 oz can chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped into 1 cm chunks
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
Start with the rice:
- Start by cooking the cabbage and cauliflower. Add the saffron to a cup and add half a cup/125ml boiling water, set aside to infuse.
- Add the ½ tsp of oil in a cast iron or large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cabbage and saute until the edges are caramelised and golden. Set aside and keep warm.
- Add the cauliflower and saffron water to the pan and bring to a boil, cook until al dente, cooked with a little crunch remaining and the water absorbed. Set aside and keep warm.
- Add the chopped apricots and heat until golden. Set aside.
- Heat the remaining tsp of oil and fry the whole spices (cloves to cardamom) until fragrant then add the spring onions and fry until golden brown.
- Mix in the rice and fry for 2 minutes, stirring constantly then stir in the ground spices, salt and water and bring to a boil.
- Cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is dry and cooked through.
Meanwhile make the curry:
- Heat the oil and add the garlic, ginger, and onion and fry over a medium heat until golden brown.
- Stir in the coconut and fry for 2 minutes.
- Stir in the ground spices, salt, tomatoes and celery and cook for about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Stir in the coriander and lemon juice. Remove from the heat.
Assemble the dish:
- Add the cabbage, cauliflower and apricot back to the rice and stir to combine and heat through.
- Divide the rice between plates then add the curry.
- Scatter with sesame seeds to serve.