Say hello to my signature Ruffled Pastry Vegetable Biryani For me, biryani is absolutely symbolic of love. Why? Because if someone clears their busy schedule to make you this complex, multi-stage dish, you know you truly have a place in their heart.
This beautiful preparation of basmati rice and freshly-toasted spices takes serious thought, time and effort.
From soaking the rice, to frying onions, and if you’re really committed, making your own glorious Biryani Masala, this is no 30-minute meal.
Biryani is a food that you make for special occasions and sharing. It’s decadent, opulent and more of an emotion than it is a meal.
It’s a little twist on the original dough-sealed biryani with stunning golden filo pastry ruffles as the crowning glory. With each scoop of aromatic biryani, your friends and family can help themselves to a buttery pastry ruffle.
These scrunched up bits of filo just melt in the mouth and they’re SO simple to make (even though it looks super fancy!).
My favourite thing is that the butter from the pastry seeps down into the steamy rice to create rosy saffron steam that contrast with spices like cardamom and cloves. Indeed, this veg biryani will knock your socks clean off.
Sure, a packet Biryani Masala mix has a place in the kitchen cupboard. It’s great for those days when you’re short of time, let’s not be snobby about it. However, there’s truly no match for a batch of homemade Biryani Masala.
I toast whole spices until the oils release and become fragrant. It’s as satisfying to make as it is to eat. Plus, everything is fresh and you get to see exactly what goes in.
My Biryani Masala is an all-in-one recipe. I add dried chilli, garlic and ginger to the masala so you don’t need to add their fresh counterparts when you cook your biryani.
I find this to be a welcome time saver since there are already so many other ingredients required.
My recipe makes approximately 75g biryani masala, which is enough to make biryani for six people three times, give or take. Of course, this depends on the amount of masala you add to your dish.
My calculations are based on adding 2 tablespoons of biryani masala to a biryani for 6 people (around 225g rice and 1.5kg of vegetables or protein).
Absolutely not traditional is the answer. While it has all the flavours of a wonderful biryani, its presentation and method of preparation is unique.
I never claim authenticity in recipes because I believe recipes are in a constant metamorphosis, informed by our environments and tastes.
Purists will insist that there cannot be a vegetarian biryani as this dish has almost always been prepared with meat.
My opinion is that if there can be plant-based “chicken” burgers, vegan “steak” and other no-meat meats, anything is possible.
Every food has roots, or an origin of sorts. To deny the existence of something based on a belief that it shouldn’t be, doesn’t make it cease to exist. Enough chat. Let’s make biryani.
India’s most traditional biryanis are cooked in “Dum”. This refers to a seal of dough around the rim of a cooking pot so the food inside cooks in steam.
A seal ensures steam builds up inside the pot, plumps up the rice grains and infuses them with the flavours of spiced veg, crispy onions (in the biryani layers) and saffron.
Once you crack it open, the ‘Dum’, translated as “warm breath” will escape and you’ll be ready to pile mounds of biryani on your plate.
This Ruffled Pastry Vegetable Biryani takes inspiration from the dum method but isn’t wholly traditional. I sprinkle the biryani is sprinkled with saffron milk which, along with the rice and veg releases steam upwards.
The crispy filo pastry sits on top and since it’s spread with butter, the entire biryani soaks up the buttery drips that fall from above. It really is the veggie biryani of dreams.
Yes, I advise it. Not only does this soften up the grains for quick cooking, it also ensures the rice doesn’t release lots of starch which can result in them sticking together. Remember to wash the rice gently first and boil it in PLENTY of water.
No all of them. I don’t pre-cook the peppers as they are relatively quick to cook and quite alright if a little crunchy. My peas are frozen so take no time at all to cook. The potatoes really are best fried for a spud that holds its shape. Frying gives cauliflower a delicious flavour. Carrots take a little longer to cook so I partially steam them before adding them in. Ultimately, all the steps in this recipe ensure all the veg cooks perfectly. You can also steam or boil all the vegetables if you prefer.
Of course. Having said this, there really isn’t anything like homemade. I encourage you to make a small batch at least once to see how you like it.
Pumpkin, green beans, turnips, mushrooms, corn and courgette are also great additions to this biryani.
I would recommend it. Filo pastry needs lots of help in the crisping up department. If you reduce the butter by too much, it will remain a pale white colour or burn in places. Butter ensures even cooking as well as protects the pastry from drying out and burning in the oven. It’s a treat dish so treat yo’self.
You can. Many Indian restaurants offer a puff pastry-topped biryani. DUM London do a good one. I have not tried it myself, but savoury shortcrust may also work. I like making these filo ruffles because it’s easy to serve. Just scoop it into your plate and everyone can help themselves to a pastry ruffle or three.
The pastry topping isn’t essential. You can make this in a regular pan on the stove or even in a casserole dish in the oven. Be sure to have a tight-fitting lid handy. You’ll need to make sure the steam doesn’t escape. If you like, you can make a basic dough using wheat flour (atta) and water, shape it into a long snake and place it around the edge of the pot before putting the lid on for some “dum” action. This type of pastry is way less delicious to eat though!
My biryani masala is an all-in-one mix. It contains all the seasonings required for this recipe. The rice is cooked in salt water and the butter on the pastry contains enough salt to season the dish adequately.
The rice should be cooked al dente. If you press a grain between your fingers, it shouldn’t be too soft. Strive for grains that break when you press them between your fingers, not ones that smush.
My homemade biryani masala already has dried rose petals in it so I don’t add any more. You can add a few drops of rosewater or kewra (screwpine leaf extract) if you like. I didn’t have any to hand today.
With ease. Swap the ghee for oil, the butter for your favourite vegan butter, the yoghurt for a plant-based alternative (or coconut milk) and the paneer for fried tofu (or skip it completely).
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