Layered Banjaara Biryani

Merry meet to fellow wanderers! Today I’m going to show you just how to make a perfect layered biryani, vegetarian style, of course. Biryani is essentially layered rice – rice topped with gravy topped with rice, a few times over. This delicious Banjaara Biryani steeped in royal folklore from medieval India has 3 flavourful layers of rich golden brown gravy laden with fresh vegetables and spices… It is cooked in a clay pot with the lid sealed tight using to retain its beautiful aroma….What makes it special is how the fragrance of basmati rice blends beautifully with the rich gravy, flooding the mind with pictures of opulent eras gone by.

Things You’ll Need:

This here is a long-ish list, but well worth it considering the end product.

  • 3 red onions
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 cup cashewnuts
  • 1/2 cup melon seeds
  • 3 dried red chillis
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup chopped greenbeans
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cubed
  • 1 small boiled potato, peeled
  • 1/2 cup paneer, cubed
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
  • A few fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Cooking oil (preferably groundnut)
  • Salt

Now make sure you go step by step and take your time with things. It looks more complicated than it is, but once you get in the zone, this is one very therapeutic recipe to create.


Layered Banjaara Biryani

  • Bring out a large pot and fill it up with water, leaving a few inches on the top. Allow it to come to a rolling boil, add your uncooked rice to it, with a teaspoon of oil. Let it cook through, stirring in between gently, making sure you don’t crush the rice.
  • Meanwhile, in a food processor, throw in 2  out of the 3 red onions (peeled), 1 tomato, 1/2 cup cashews (we need the other half for later), 1/2 cup melon seeds, dried red chillis, dried fenugreek leaves, and garlic. Pour in half a cup of water and grind to a smooth paste.

Your rice will still not have cooked, so you can start the next step while also watching the pot of rice.

  • Steam the diced green beans, carrots, and the fresh corn, chop the boiled potato into 1/2 inch squares, and cube the paneer and green bell pepper. Set aside the boiled potato and paneer. Now slice the third onion finely, and set it aside with the remaining cashews.
  • In a large pan, pour in a tablespoon of cooking oil, and once it heats up, add the cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds cook for 30 – 45 seconds, and add the steamed vegetables along with the green bell peppers.
  • Allow to cook for a few minutes, still leaving them crunchy, and pour in the onion puree. Here you may want to check on your rice and drain it if it’s cooked.
  • Add the cumin powder, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and stir gently. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook on a medium flame till the oil separates.
  • Slowly, your gravy will start turning a beautiful golden, and this is where you add the potato, paneer, and season with salt. The key here is to make the gravy just a little bit saltier than it should be, to make up for the lack of salt in the rice.
  • In a separate pan, heat 3 tbsp of oil and toss in the sliced onions and remaining cashew nuts. Fry till the onions turn crispy and brown. Now preheat your oven to the highest temperature.
  • Bring out an oven proof pot that has a lid, and lightly grease it with butter. Using your hand, make a thin layer of rice, enough to cover the bottom of the pot. Now layer it with gravy, neatly using a spoon. Layer again with rice so the gravy is invisible, and pour on another layer of gravy. Do this till the rice and gravy are exhausted, but make sure your top layer is rice.
  • Garnish with the fried cashews and onions, and cover your pot of biryani with its lid. Let it cook in the oven for half an hour and just before serving, dress it up with the chopped fresh mint leaves.

Careful when you serve it up, and careful when you take a mouthful – this dish tends to remain very hot for a very long time!

Let this pagal banjaara know how your biryani turns out, whenever you get down to cooking it up.


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