Monday, 23 May 2011

Vegetable Briyani

Quite often, when I’m craving a home-cooked Malaysian dish, my mind wanders to the afternoon in Madras a few years ago. It was the start of a family vacation across India and my brother and I were recuperating (from the very early morning flight) in the hotel room whereas my parents, being the overactive individuals they are, were excited about starting off their holiday asap. They left us to sleep off the tiredness and promised to bring us back some lunch. 

What they brought back was probably the best briyani I have ever eaten in my entire life. It was spicy, flavoursome and plain right delicious. And then there was THE egg. Just a simple, boiled egg hidden in the depths of the rice. The perfect surprise.

And that is one of my favourite food memories.

Seeing as mum made a similar dish over Christmas I thought I’d try it out myself and so after a couple of quick email exchanges between mum and I, I now owned the secret behind the amazingly yummy briyani. She did warn me though that to perfect this recipe, it would require patience and many tries. 

Although this is a recipe for a vegetable briyani, feel free to add chicken, lamb or seafood when frying the spices.

Vegetable Briyani

Serves 4


Rice [half a cup per person is usually quite substantial]
Half an onion, sliced
An inch of ginger, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A variety of spices. I've used half a stick of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, cumin, fennel seeds and a couple of bay leaves
2 tomatoes,chopped.
Red/Green chillies, sliced. Quantity depends on how spicy you want the dish to be.
Coriander leaves, chopped.
Mint leaves, chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons of fresh yoghurt
2 tablespoons of coconut milk (I used milk as a substitute)
2 tablespoons of curry powder. Add a few drops of water to turn it into a thick paste.
Vegetables. Any type of vegetable that will hold its shape such as potatoes, carrots, peppers and cauliflower. I used green peas as well but added it as a last minute addition.
Boiled eggs

  1. Start by frying the spices, garlic, onions, ginger and chillies in hot oil until it produces a fragrant aroma. Add the chopped tomatoes and curry paste. If the mixture is too thick, add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the paste and continue frying for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the vegetables and coat it in the spices and curry paste. Let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat or until the vegetables are partially cooked. Add the rice, coriander and mint (if using) and sauté for a few minutes.
  3. Finally add the yoghurt, salt, milk and enough water to cook the rice. Mix thoroughly. 
  4. There are two ways to cook this dish. You can continue cooking it on a low heat on the hob or you can transfer the entire dish into an over-proof dish and cook in the oven at about 180'C for 30 minutes.
  5. Bury the boiled eggs into the rice and add the peas about 5 minutes before end of cooking time.

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