Biryani is an aromatic Indian version of rice pilaf, made with basmati rice. This vegetarian biryani is a great accompaniment to the tangy Dahi Machi (Turmeric Fish in Yogurt Sauce). However, it's substantial enough to be served as a meal in itself. Raita, a yogurtbased sauce, is a cooling accompaniment for spicier dishes, and there are myriad versions; one made with cucumbers is the most common, and our favorite. The rice can be made ahead of time, transferred to a baking dish with the onion and almonds, covered, and refrigerated. When ready to serve, reheat, covered in foil in a preheated 350 F oven for 25 minutes.
1. Prepare raita. In a medium bowl, stir yogurt until smooth. Add salt and cumin, mixing well, then stir in cucumber. Cover well and refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F and adjust oven rack to center position. Combine all ingredients for spice paste in a food processor or blender, and purie to form paste. Scrape into a small bowl and set aside.
3. Prepare rice. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof pot or Dutch oven until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and dark brown around edges, about 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer onions to a bowl.
4. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat with cloves and cinnamon stick. Cook until cinnamon stick begins to unroll, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add spice paste and cook until paste begins to stick to bottom of pan, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add cauliflower, sweet potato, and turnip and cook until vegetables are thoroughly coated with spice paste, about 1 minute. Add rice and stir to coat, about 30 to 60 seconds.
5. Add currants or raisins, water, and salt and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then cover pot, transfer to oven, and bake at 350 F until rice is cooked, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in peas, cover, and let sit for 15 minutes. Transfer mixture to a serving dish and scatter onions and almonds on top. Serve immediately. Stir raita and serve in a bowl on the side.
Garam Masala: Curry is a catchall term for a spiced stew or dish. With curry, spiced does not mean spicy hot, but rather a careful mix of several spices that complement each other and the foods they're flavoring. In many recipes, a spice mix called masala is used in place of six or seven individual spices. There are countless variations of masala, including garam masala from northern India, but typically the spices in the mix are aromatic, rather than hot. You can find garam masala in our spice aisle, or you can mix your own blend. Here's a simple version. If you have a spice grinder, use whole spices and grind them together.
Mix together; store in an airtight container.
Source: Hannaford fresh Magazine, May - June 2008