1½ cups basmati rice, covered with water and soaked for 30 minutes, then drained
1½ cups vegetable stock
3 green cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1-inch stick of cinnamon
½ tsp mace
2 medium potatoes, cut in a 1-inch dice
2 carrots, cut in a 1-inch dice
1 cup tomato puree
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 heaping tbsp of store-bought biryani masala (I used the Shaan brand)
½ tsp turmeric
For the masala paste:
1 medium onion, thinly sliced, then sauteed over medium-high heat with 2 tsp vegetable oil until golden-brown and crisp
1 tbsp coriander seeds, roasted
½ cup packed coriander or cilantro leaves
¼ cup fresh mint leaves
2 green chillies, chopped
1-inch knob of ginger, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt to taste
Make the ground masala by placing all the ingredients in a blender, add enough water to make a smooth paste, and blend.
Pour the ground masala over the chopped carrots and potatoes and let stand for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tsp oil in a saucepan. Add the whole spices-- cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, mace, and bay leaves-- and saute for a minute. Add the drained rice. Saute until the rice starts to turn opaque, about a minute.
Add the vegetable stock and when the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, and cook 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Heat all of the remaining oil (you should have just under a tablespoon) in another saucepan.
Add the vegetables with the masala paste. Saute for about 10 minutes over medium heat until the paste begins to darken.
Add the tomato puree, turmeric, and biryani masala. Mix well.
When the mixture comes to a boil, slap on a tight-fitting lid and cook another 10-15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked but not mushy.
Spread the rice in the bottom of an oven-safe pan or in a saucepan with oven-safe handles.
Pour the vegetables and gravy on top.
Sprinkle on some red and yellow food color, if desired. (I don't typically use food colors when making biryanis, but this time I really wanted that restaurant look and flavor. For a more subtle color, use a mix of turmeric and saffron. Soak the saffron in a tablespoon of water or soymilk before sprinkling).
Cover with some foil and, if using a saucepan, the lid.
Cook in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and let stand 10 minutes. Biryani always tastes better the next day, when the flavors have had a chance to mingle.
With a fork, mix the gravy and the rice together. Serve hot.
Recipe by Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes at http://holycowvegan.net/restaurant-style-vegetable-biryani/