“The difference between biryani and pullao is that while pullao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the other ingredients.”
Also, a biryani usually has rice layered with either meat or vegetables and flavoured with spices such as saffron.
For this reason, I have never attempted to cook a biryani. I find it too complicated even though there are numerous recipes which are available on the internet. And yet, I discovered last weekend that my pantry included an unopened box of “Biryani Masala”.
The memory rewound to the fateful month last year when I had employed a cook and she had claimed to be an expert at making biryani. The day never came and she left within a month (not her fault). The Masala had been purchased especially for her. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, the packet indicated that the expiry date was still a few months away and I could make use of it…if I wanted to. And I did use it. Not to make the traditional biryani. But to make pulao – which tasted quite like biryani! And hence the name Biryani Pulao. Since I donot cook non vegetarian food, this is a vegetarian recipe.
Rice (preferably Basmati): 1 cup
Onion, sliced: 1 medium
Potato, cut in small cubes: 1 medium
Cauliflower: a few florets
Soya Chunks: ½ cup
Peas: ¼ cup
Biryani Masala: 1 – 1 ½ tsp
Turmeric Powder: ½ tsp
Cumin Seeds: ½ tsp
Oil: 1 – 2 tbsp
Salt: To taste
- Soak the soya chunks in hot water for around 5 minutes, or till they are soft. I usually microwave them for around 2 minutes. Drain the water and squeeze the chunks till they are dry. Keep aside
- Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan or a pressure cooker. When the oil is hot enough, add the cumin seeds and the bayleaf.
- When the seeds begin to splutter, add the sliced onions and sauté on medium heat till they start turning golden
- Add the potato cubes and sauté for 3 – 4 minutes
- Add the rest of the vegetables, soya chunks, biryani masala and turmeric. Stir for another 3 – 4 minutes
- Add the rice, 1 ¾ cup water, salt and pressure cook on high heat till 2 whistles. Remove from heat and open the lid when the steam has subsided
- In the absence of pressure cooker, add 2 ¼ cups water and cover and cook on low heat till the rice is cooked.
- Serve hot with raita / curd and pickle