I was introduced to the world of “Plain Biryani” for the first time from Infosys Food Court. Plain Biryani used to be on the menu almost daily and it cost slightly less than all the other Biryanis like Chicken, Egg, Mutton and so on. So what is Plain Biryani? In simple terms, it is Biryani sans meat and veggies. Now you may wonder how Biryani can be made without Vegetables, Meat or Egg. This Biriyani is made by layering rice with a simple masala gravy. The Masala gravy can either be a plain Tomato & Onion Based gravy or it could be any leftover non-vegetarian gravy, like the gravy from a Chicken or Mutton Dish. Infact, one of my team mates who was a Vegetarian by choice, ordered Plain Biryani and ended up finding tiny pieces of Chicken in it. 🙂
Here is the recipe for Plain Biriyani made using only onions and tomatoes. You can always prepare Plain Biryani when you have leftover vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes. Even if you don’t have any leftover dishes, just boil a few eggs, add it your Plain Biryani and you are all set to enjoy a glorious Meal. Since you don’t have to clean and cook meat or vegetables, this Biryani can be prepared easily.
For the Rice
- Long grain Basmati rice – 2 cups
- Oil – 1 tsp
- Biriyani Masala Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp (optional)
- Water – as required
- Salt – to taste
For the Biriyani Masala Gravy
- Thinly sliced Onions – 2 medium sized
- Diced Tomatoes – 2 large
- Slit Green Chillies – 4
- Cinnamon – 1″ piece
- Cloves – 4
- Cardamom – 4 pods
- Fennel Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Bay leaves – 2
- Cilantro, chopped – 1/4 cup
- Mint leaves, chopped – 1/4 cup
- Fresh Ginger Garlic Paste – 2 tbsp
- Kashmiri Chilly Powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Chicken Masala Powder – 2 tbsp (Any brand, I used Chicken Fish Masala Powder)
- Home Made Biriyani Masala Powder – 1 to 2 tsp
- Yogurt – 1 Cup
- Lemon Juice – 2 tbsp
- Cashew Halves – 1/4 cup
- Raisins – 1/4 cup
- Salt- to taste
- Ghee/Cooking oil – As required
- Soak Basmathi rice in water for around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Bring around 6-8 cups of water to a rolling boil in a big pan. Reduce heat to medium and add the soaked and drained Basmathi Rice to the boiling water along with salt to taste, 1/2 tsp biryani masala, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tsp oil. Cover and cook for around 8-10 minutes checking the rice occasionally. Remove from stove top and drain excess water when each grain is separate and 80 to 90% cooked but not fully cooked. Spread the cooked rice in a tray and allow it to cool.
- Heat a big non stick pan or wok and add 3 tablespoons of oil or ghee.
- If using nuts and dried fruits; fry cashews, almonds, raisins etc. until the cashews are lightly brown and the raisins become plump. Drain and keep aside.
- Throw in fennel seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves and cloves. Saute for 2 minutes.
- Then add onions and saute until translucent. Add the slit green chillies, chopped cilantro and mint leaves. Continue sauteing until the onions begin to brown.
- Next, add the chopped tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes are pulpy and mashed.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry for a few minutes until the raw smell disappears.
- Reduce heat and add 1 tsp of biriyani masala powder, 2 tbsp chicken masala powder, 1 tsp kashmiri chilly powder and 1/2 tsp turmeric and saute for a minute.
- Blend 1 cup of yogurt and add it to the pan along with salt and mix well. Allow it to simmer for a while.
- Cover and cook on medium heat for around 10 minutes. Remove from stove top and keep the masala gravy aside.
- Meanwhile preheat oven to 350 degree F. Apply some ghee or oil on a baking dish or line with aluminum foil. Layer it with the cooked rice and the onion-tomato masala gravy alternatively. Sprinkle lemon juice in between.
- Cover with an aluminum foil and bake for 25-30 minutes.
- Garnish with fried nuts and dried fruits.
- Serve this yummy Plain Biriyani with any vegetarian or non-vegetarian side dish, boiled eggs, Raitha, Pickle and Pappad.