This is a good-tempered dish made from everyday ingredients, and thus indispensable for the cook catering for an unexpected vegetarian guest. It is packed full of exciting flavors.
Half cup oil
2 medium sized tomatoes - chopped
Half cup fried onions
2 medium sized potatoes - peeled and cubed
2 eggplants - cubed
1 cup mixed vegetables
1 cup whipped yogurt
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
Half tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 green chillies - chopped
Half tsp garam masala powder
Half tsp black pepper powder
2 cups basmati rice
2 whole cardamoms
2 cinnamon sticks
Half tsp caraway seeds (shahi zeera)
Half cup milk mixed with a pinch of yellow food color
2 bay leaves
Half cup - finely chopped coriander and mint leaves
2 tsp of pure desi ghee (clarified butter)
Salt to taste
To prepare the masala heat oil in a deep bottomed non-stick pot on medium heat. Add the ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder and red chilli powder to it. Saute for about a minute and then add the tomatoes and the fried onions. Fry until the tomatoes start to release the water and then add the yogurt. Add the garam masala powder, black pepper powder, lemon juice, green chillies and salt. Cook until the oil starts to separate, stirring occasionally. Now add the potatoes, eggplants and the mixed vegetables. Cook for about 10 more minutes on low-medium heat. Remove from flame.
The rice has to be cooked separately for biryanis. In a separate deep bottomed vessel filled with water add cardamoms, cinnamon, caraway seeds, bay leaves, cloves and salt (according to your taste). Bring water to a boil and then add the rice. Cook until the rice is tender. Strain the rice in a colander.
Spread half of the rice in the same vessel, then spread the vegetable masala forming the second layer and finally top it with the remaining boiled rice. Sprinkle it with coriander and mint leaves and a tablespoon of fried onions. Pour the milk and drop two dollops of pure desi ghee.
Cover and cook on low-medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.
Fluff up the rice with a fork before serving. It tastes great with raitas (yogurt chutney).