Monday, December 30, 2013

KIOS: Day 30

Day 30: Favourite Recipes

This is one that I have been craving making for a little while. I thought I would share it because judging from the contents of people's fridges a few days ago, most folks doing KIOS eat pretty healthy and this is healthy, hearty rice dish, easily made in a vegetarian or meaty version, that I adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's recipe for Biryani - which, when I copied it, took the front and back of THREE recipe cards. This is much simpler.

You can double or triple the recipe for the spice blend and save some time the next time you make the dish. Or, use the rice spice in curries, on hash browns, roasted potatoes, steaks, anything really.

Simplified Biryani

Rice Spice:
Grind together in a spice mill or coffee grinder or using a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
5-6 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds (or 1-2 cardamom pods)
1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Main ingredients:
4 cups warm water
1/2 gram saffron
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil (sunflower, canola, whatever you like. I wouldn't recommend olive oil, as its flavour will compete with other flavours in the dish)
1 large onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced, pressed or grated
1 inch cube of ginger, minced or grated
2 cups white or brown basmati rice
OPTIONAL: cubed cooked meat (left over lamb or goat roast is THE BEST, but beef, pork or chicken are also good)
1/2 cup whole almonds (unsalted, roasted or raw, whichever you prefer)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped

Put the saffron in the warm water and allow to steep.

In a heavy pot which has a well-fitting lid, heat the vegetable oil. Add the garlic, onion and ginger and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the Rice Spice and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes.

Inhale the lovely aroma. Exhale.

Add the rice and stir well, coating all of the rice with oil. Add the meat, if you are making a carnivorous version of this dish. Add the nuts and dried fruits (please note that you can use a different combination of fruits and nuts if you prefer). Stir well, allowing all the ingredients to be infused with the flavour of the oil and spices.

Add the saffron and water, stirring to loosen any grains of rice that have gotten stuck to the bottom of the pan.

Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest possible setting and leave to cook, covered, until the rice is tender and the moisture has been absorbed (usually about 30 minutes).

Serve with plain yoghurt (or a raita made with cucumber, garlic and fresh mint) and garnish with fresh mints leaves or parsley.

Serves 4 (or serves 6-8 as a side dish)


  1. I have to ask, is the spice mixture spicy? My mom and sister are wimps when it comes to spice. ._.

    1. For spice wimps, I would leave out the cayenne and halve (or omit) the peppercorns. Without those ingredients, the spice blend is savoury without heat. The only other source of heat in the recipe is the ginger - it's not hot like chillies, but it is pungent with a warmth to it. You might want to halve that, too. I hope you give this a try and see if your family likes it :-)

  2. OMG that sounds so good, and almost like a cooking event, not just a meal!

  3. Wowsers!!! That sounds yummy! I've tried my hand at making my own curry and other Indian food and, man, I stink at it. But I don't know, I think I might have to try again with this one!