Biryani is a festive colorful rice dish from India, that is cooked with many spices and herbs. Growing up my mother would make a similar rice dish, but in a Bengali style, which is called Pushpanna and it is much sweeter and mixed with dried fruits. Both are very delicious, but I’m more inclined to vegetable biryani which is a bit more on the savory side. My Biryani (kinda like the Indian version of Chinese fried rice) version has lots of vegetables and i usually use leftover rice, and stir fry it in ghee or coconut oil. You can also cook fresh rice and just let it chill. This biryani dish is a great companion with any Indian curries, dal, and yogurt raitas. With so many layers of flavors and textures, this veggielicious dish is perfect for any special occasion.
This dish is one of my favorite Indian courses that I grew up with. And personally, the best individual that ever made this dish was Sanatani’s husband, Sruta, who was a beloved member of the ashram and another dear father and mentor to me. He recently passed away from liver cancer and although his death has been a hard thing to go through, I can say that with family, friends and time, it has definitely helped with the understanding of moving forward, and healing. Khichuri will always be a loving memory of his favorite meals to cook, therefore it has a warming comfort for my heart. My khichuri is a humble version of his.
3/4 cup basmati rice; washed, drained, dried
1 cup yellow split moong dal
1 inch ginger, minced
2 small tomatoes
1 or 2 red chilies (or more if you like it hot!)
1/2 tsp of tumeric powder
1 tsp of paprika
a pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom
1 bay leaf
1 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1/4 tsp of fennel
5 cups of water
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 cup of frozen green peas
In a pot, heat ghee or oil and fry the chilies, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, mustard, fennel and bay leaf. The mustard and cumin seeds should crackle when frying. Add the ginger, tumeric, paprika and hing and saute for 3 seconds, then add the tomatoes, stirring till they become soft. Add the rice and dal and saute for 2 minutes, carefully watching that the spices don’t burn. Pour 5 cups of water, stir and add salt. Cover and cook on medium for 30 minutes. Add green peas and keep cooking. If the pot keeps spilling over, just lower the flame. Check the consistency of the khichuri and add water if needed. I like my khichuri to be porridge like, not too runny but not too thick, but you can cook it to your liking, just make sure that both rice and dal are thoroughly cooked. There are so many vegetables you can add, like potatoes and carrots. Sruta would add deep fried florets of cauliflower and paneer.
When your khicuri is done, sprinkle cilantro and plop a bit of yoghurt and squeeze some sriracha sauce or chutney. You can serve it with a roti, naan, pita bread or even tortillas (anything is good with a tortilla)!
Click on the following link to learn more about delicious Indian breads to enjoy with this Khichuri: http://www.gharanarestaurant.com/blog/indian-breads
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