Layers of fragrant rice, earthy brown lentils and crispy fried onions…come together to make a deliciously satisfying vegetarian entree!
Soak 1 cup whole masoor dal overnight. Next day, drain the soaked dal and keep ready.
Heat 1 tbsp oil. Add 1 tsp cumin, 2 inch pieces of cinnamon, 4 black cardamom, 1 bay leaf and 2 whole red chillies.
Cook for a minute till fragrant. Add 2 med size chopped onions and cook till lightly golden.
Add 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste and saute for 3-4 minutes.
Add 3 med size chopped tomatoes, 1/2 tsp red chilli pwdr, 1tsp coriander powder and 1/4 tsp garam masala. Cook till tomatoes melt.
Also add 1/4 cup each if finely chopped apricots and raisins if you like. (optional)
Next add the drained lentils and 1/4 cup yoghurt, stir to mix.
Cover and cook the lentils for 15-20 minutes on low heat till lentils are cooked through. Meanwhile, you can wash and soak 2 cups Basmati rice for 15 min.
Be careful not to over cook or they might become mushy! The grains of the lentil should hold their shape. Squeeze juice of half lemon to brighten flavors.
In a seperate pan, heat a tbsp of ghee, add 1 tsp cumin seeds, 4 green cardamom and 4 cloves. Follow with 1 med size onion finely chopped and cook till onions turn golden.
Drain the soaked rice, add to the onions and cook for 2 min on medium high. Add 3 1/2 cups of water and salt to taste.
Cover and reduce heat. Cook till almost all the water evaporates. Fluff up rice, using a flat spoon. Then sprinkle 1/2 cup warm water, cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes on low heat.
While rice is cooking, slice 2 medium size onions, sprinkle salt and microwave for 5 minutes.
Drain onions on a paper towel and deep fry till crispy.
Assembling the biryani…
Alternate thin layers of rice, fried onions and dal repeatedly.
Top with fried cashewnuts, saffron water and chopped mint….
Cover with foil, bake in a 375F oven for 25 min and serve warm with cucumber mint raita.