Back when I studied abroad in London during one of my semesters at UT, I found myself with an internship at one of the best Indian restaurants in the city. (If you ever find yourself in London, make your way over to Dishoom for some seriously good food – the black daal and garlic naan is a must!) While getting to see what goes into a restaurant launch and being right in the hustle of a Friday night restaurant shift were such amazing experiences, getting to eat my way through the entire Dishoom menu during my three months in London was even better.
Most evenings after working at the restaurant office, I would grab a to-go container of veggie biryani for dinner — which was a total lifesaver from my dorm kitchenette. It’s no surprise that there’s a major difference between the Indian food that you get at restaurants and the type of food Indian moms make for dinner, and though I might be biased, the Dishoom dishes were some of the closest I’ve had to my mom’s homemade version. This biryani is a blend of inspirations from both.
Biryani has it’s origins in South Asia, with different regional and cultural varieties of the dish being found around India and the other surrounding areas. The basic components of a biryani are as follows ::
– rice (most often a fragrant Basmati rice)
– meat (whether that is chicken, goat, prawns, etc. is based on the region you’re in)
– a marinade of yogurt and spices
– optional vegetables
So if you’ve been reading Global Kitchen for a while, you’ve seen the recipe I use for Kitchari. While both are rice-based dishes, they are entirely different. Kitchari is lighter in terms of the spices used and traditionally (unlike my version), is lighter on the vegetables and filler ingredients to make it easy for digestion when you’re feeling under the weather. Biryani is one of those special occasion feast-dish that is filled with flavorful spices and layers that make it a centerpiece dish for a table.
When I think of the Biryani that I used to get at Dishoom, I remember a warm and hearty dish that had so many complex layers of flavor. You’ve got the fluffy rice that acts as a base for all the spices and marinade, the different textures from all the vegetables and bhujia (chickpea flour crunchy toppings), and a kind of sweet and savory flavor from the chutney and raisins that are mellowed out with a little drizzle of yogurt.
While my version is vegetarian, if you want to add meat like chicken, think of slow-cooking a marinated meat to get extra flavor.
This is one of those one-pot meals that is packed with flavor and super easy to toss together. You can adjust based on the veggies you have an experiment with different combos. It’s definitely a favorite of mine, and I hope you love it too!