Spicy Eggplant Biryani
An eggplant biryani with chunks of eggplant (brinjal or aubergine) and potato simmered in a spicy, creamy sauce with fresh herbs like dill, cilantro and mint, then smothered with aromatic grains of basmati rice. It's an easy recipe that's also gluten-free, soy-free and vegan, and it can easily be made nut-free. Serve with a vegan cucumber raita on the side for an exquisite Indian themed dinner.
Servings: 8 servings
- 2 cups basmati rice (uncooked)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 8 green cardamom pods (divided)
- 8 cloves (divided)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon shahi jeera (caraway seeds or black cumin. Or use plain cumin seeds)
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves (tough stems trimmed, then roughly chopped)
- ½ cup cilantro (roughly chopped)
- ¼ cup fresh dill (tough stems trimmed, then roughly chopped)
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 3 medium eggplants (About 2 pounds. Chop in ¾-inch cubes. Italian, Indian and Chinese eggplants are all fine. Try not to use the large globe eggplant.
- 2 medium potatoes (Use red or yellow potatoes. Stay away from starchy potatoes like russet)
- 1 medium onion (chopped)
- 2 medium tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 cup fried onions (divided)
- ½ cup vegan yogurt
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 tablespoon biryani masala (if you only have garam masala and no biryani masala or the other way round, use 2 tablespoon of either)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika (optional, for color. You don't need more spice in this recipe as the garam masala and biryani masala already have chili peppers in them but if you want more heat you can add some cayenne)
- ½ cup raw cashews (optional)
- Salt to taste
Make biryani rice
Wash the rice in a couple of changes of water and soak for at least 30 minutes. This helps the rice grains stay separate when cooked.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add to it four cloves, four cardamom pods, and bay leaves. Just before the water boils salt it liberally, the way you would pasta water. Add the soaked, drained rice to the boiling water and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the rice is about 80 percent done, with a slight bite to it still. Turn off the heat and immediately strain the rice in a colander. Run cool tap water over the rice to stop it from cooking further and set aside.
Make eggplant sauce
Heat the oil in a large pot with a tight lid. Add the remaining cloves, cardamom pods and shahi jeera or cumin seeds to the pot and saute for a few seconds.
Add the herbs to the pot--the mint, cilantro and dill. Saute for a few more seconds just until the herbs wilt.
Add the ginger garlic paste to the pot, mix it in, then add the potatoes and eggplant cubes. Add half a teaspoon of salt and mix. Cover and let the potatoes and eggplant cook about five minutes over medium heat. Stir a couple of times in between to make sure nothing's sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Puree the tomatoes and onion in a blender. Add the puree to the pot and mix it with the vegetables. Add ½ cup of fried onions, powdered spices (garam masala, biryani masala, ground coriander, ground cumin and paprika) and vegan yogurt to the pot. Add a cup of water. Mix well, then cover the pot again and cook until the veggies are tender.
Finally, stir in the cashews, if using, and add salt if needed. Turn off heat.
Put the biryani together
Layer the cooked basmati rice over the eggplant and potato sauce evenly. Sprinkle on the remaining half cup of fried onions over the rice. You can also sprinkle on some biryani masala on the rice at this point, or mint leaves.
Cover the pot, turn heat to low, and let the biryani cook 15 minutes for all the flavors to merge and meld.
Turn off the heat and let the rice stand 15 minutes before opening.
Calories: 387kcal | Carbohydrates: 63g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Potassium: 706mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 706IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 3mg