|Ravinder Bhogal, Author of Cook in Boots|
250g paneer cubed
8 cauliflower florets
100g French beans
a handful of roasted cashewnuts
50 ml groundnut or rapeseed oil
2 red onions – three chopped into chunks
4 fat cloves of garlic, minced
3 inches ginger, minced
2 green chillies, minced
2 tablespoons tomato puree
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
150 g yoghurt
The juice of one lime
8 aloo Bokhara (dried Golden plums) or dried apricots
5 tablespoons of fresh chopped mint
5 tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander
Screwpine essence or rosewater to sprinkle
For the rice
250g basmati rice
1 sticks of cinnamon
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 cardamom pods bruised
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoons salt
A large pinch of saffron
For the spice mix:
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
1 dried red chilli
2 cardamom pods
a small blade of mace
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried mango powder
1 tablespoon dried rose petals
½ teaspoon turmeric
4 boiled eggs cut into quarters
A sprinkle of coriander
The arials from one pomegranate
Preparing the Rice
Wash the rice in several changes of cold water and soak for half an hour. Drain and boil it in a pan of salted water along with the cinnamon, peppercorns, cardamom pods, cloves and cumin seeds. Boil it till it is half cooked – this should take about 8 minutes. The rice should still have bite. Drain it well and then spread over a large tray to cool. Crush the saffron in a pestle and mortar and add 8 tablespoons or warm water. Mix well and then sprinkle over the rice. The aim is to get contrasting crocus stained rice and pearly white rice.
Step 3 – Cooking the Paneer
Roast the first 6 spices on a dry hot pan till aromatic. Grind all the spices together into a coarse blend using a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar.
In a large frying pan, heat the oil and fry the onion over a low heat till sticky and brown. Add the spice mix along with the ginger, garlic and chillies and fry till fragrant. Add the yoghurt and stir till well combined and then add the tomatoes, tomato puree, paneer and 150ml water and let it bubble over a gentle heat. Cook until the sauce has reduced and thickened and now add the French beans, peas, peppers, cashew nuts and cauliflower and cook again for 3 minutes. Sprinkle over the mint and coriander and stir.
Step 3 Cooking and Constructing the Biryani
Preheat the oven to Gas mark 3 / 160 degrees C.
Grease the bottom of a casserole dish with one tablespoon of ghee. Cover with a third of the rice. Then pour over half the paneer and juices, a third of the crispy onions and a sprinkling or screw pine or rose water. Cover with another of the rice and dot with ghee. Pour over the remaining meat, another third of the onions and another sprinkling of screw pine or rose water. Cover with the remaining rice and dot with the final spoon of ghee and a final sprinkle of screw pine or rose water. Cover the biryani with a layer of greased tin foil and then top with a snug fitting lid to ensure none of the steam escapes – this is what will make your rice lovely and fluffy.
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes until it is fragrant and perfectly cooked. Garnish with the boiled eggs, pomegranate seeds, the remaining crispy onions and coriander. Serve with raita and wedges of lime.
White Chocolate and Passion Fruit Mousse with Pistachio and Mukhwas Chikki
10 passion fruit
287ml double cream
250g white chocolate
For the chikki:
2 teaspoons mukhwas, crushed
100g caster sugar
50g shelled pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
5 tablespoons water
To make the chikki:
Lay a sheet of baking parchment over a baking sheet and lay over a thin layer of the pistachios. Sprinkle over the mukhwas. Heat the sugar and water to make a caramel. Keep stirring it until it becomes a beautiful amber colour. At this point, take it off the heat and pour it over the pistachios making sure it is a glassy thin, fragile layer.
To make the mousse melt the chocolate with the cream over a double boiler till it’s glossy and molten. Take off the heat and set aside to cool. Separate the eggs and beat the yolks into the cream. Next whisk in the passion fruit pulp. In another bowl, whisk up the egg whites till they form stiff peaks. Fold into the chocolate mixture gently but making sure it is well mixed. Pour into glasses. Cover and refrigerate and set for 6 hours. Serve with shards of chikki.