Vegetable Biryani (Indian Vegetarian Cooking from an American Kitchen, by Vasantha Prasad)
1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
1 potato, peeled and cut into chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into quarters
2 cups fresh or 10 oz. frozen peas
10 cauliflower florets
For the curry paste:
1 Tbsp. grated fresh coconut
1-2 jalapeno peppers or green chilies
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
3 cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
2 inch cinnamon stick (this seems like an awful lot to me, and most blenders aren’t cut out to handle whole cinnamon. I’d use powdered and start with 1/2 tsp. then add more if it seems like it needs more.)
6 whole cashews
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp. light vegetable oil
3 onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. salt or to taste
2 Tbsp. fresh lime or lemon juice
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1. Begin cooking the rice using your favorite method (I’ve found the best way to do this is to soak the rice in cold water for at least 30 minutes (an hour is better) before you cook it. Then drain the rice, add about 1 1/2 times its amount of cold water to a pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Immediately drop the heat to a low simmer and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. The soaking is what makes the grains so fluffy and long at the end.)
2. Meanwhile, in a sacepan, boil enough water to cover and add the potato, carrots, peas, and cauliflower, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Drain and set aside.
3. In a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade, blend the coconut, jalapeno peppers, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cashews, coriander, cumin, and garlic, until the mixture is smooth. Set aside.
4. In a large heavy-bottomed nonstick saucepan, heat the oil. Add the onions and saute over medium heat until they turn golden. Add the curry paste and cook for 5 minutes, until you can smell the aroma of the spices. (At this point I’d add a handful of golden raisins and some freshly toasted, unsalted cashews). Add the cooked rice, vegetables, salt, and lime juice, and mix thoroughly.
5. Serve hot or at room temperature garnished with the cilantro.