Saturday, August 28, 2010

vegetable biryani with fenugreek leaves

I had to prepare a Sunday lunch without the use of onion and garlic couple of weeks ago. It was a rainy Sunday and somebody was coming for a pakoda party on a very short notice. I made lots of corn pakodas with a hot and tangy chutney accompanied by tea for a late breakfast. It was great as the soft drizzle outside the window made it very very pleasant.

After this heavy breakfast the lunch had to be lighter as well as less time consuming. I had quickly planned for a vegetable biryani and had already chopped the vegetables. When you are not using onions and garlic the chopping becomes easier. Some beans and carrots were chopped finely and potatoes in cubes. I have a jar full of dried fenugreek leaves from the last season and that is super flavorful, you can use kasuri methi but the flavors will be slightly different.

Fresh methi will be better so use a cup of tightly packed fresh methi leaves for each tablespoon of dried leaves. That's it.

The pictures I took when i had actually started eating, it was so delicious that I wanted to share it here. Ihis was the first time I made the fenugreek pulav or birayani kind of rice without onion and garlic and it turned out great.

I make a low calorie high fiber version of this rice which is great too but this one is rich and qualifies to be called a biryani by every means. Yhe rice grains are white and lightly coated with the masala seasoning, fragrant with the whole spices and the dried fenugreek leaves and every piece of the vegetables retain their individual texture and taste ......

Yes I made it using the layering technique, only the layering was done hastily and roughly.

(to serve 5-6 adults)
basmati rice 2 cups (I used basmati tukda)
finely chopped carrots 1 cup
finely chopped french beans 1 cup
potatoes peeled and cut in 3/4 inch cubes .. 2 cups
thin strips of ginger 2 tbsp
whole dry red chilies 4-5 nos. ( as per taste )
dried fenugreek leaves 2 tbsp
black cardamom 2 pods
green cardamom 3 pods
inch long cinnamon sticks 4 nos.
star anise 1 no. ( i used 4-5 pieces of broken stars )
cumin seeds 1 tsp
shahjeera 1 tsp
black peppercorns 2 tsp
cloves 8 nos.
bay leaves 2-3 nos.
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
aromatic garam masala 1 tsp ( optional )
ghee 1/2 cup
salt to taste 

Wash the rice and soak in 4 cups of water. Keep aside.

Prepare for the other ingredients and just as you start cooking the other ingredients, cook the rice either in microwave or on the other burner of your gas stove, add a bay leaf and a stick of cinnamon to the cooking rice. Watch when you are cooking the veggies on the other side and you need the rice cooked al dante'...

Heat ghee in a wide pan (with a tight lid as the pan needs to cook on dum). Add the cumin seeds, ginger and potato cubes first in the hot ghee, stir for a couple of minutes till you get a ginger aroma, now add all the whole spices reserving a stick of cinnamon and one bay leaf. Add 2 pinches of salt for the potatoes and toss and fry till the potatoes become 3/4 cooked.

Frying potatoes this way results in firm yet porous potatoes in a biryani (or a tahiri), this way the potatoes retain their shape and yet absorb all the subtle masala taste. The only way I like potatoes in rice preparations.

Meanwhile, start cooking the rice on the other side of the stove or in microwave as suggested earlier. The rice will cooked along with aromatic cinnamon and bay leaf. Take care to cook it 3/4 done and the rice will not be completely dry and fluffy yet.

To the cooking potatoes add all the chopped veggies (I sometimes add soya nuggets too) and fry adding salt to taste within 3-4 minutes the veggies will be almost cooked and it is time to add the dried methi leaves. Keep  stirring till the aroma of fenugreek fills the kitchen, sprinkle the garam masala and nutmeg powders and mix.

The rice should be cooked to desired level till this point, if rice still needs some time to be cooked you can put the flame off for the veggies, cover the pan and wait till the rice is ready.

Pour half of the rice in to the veggies pan, turn lightly to mix them roughly and pour the remaining rice, fluff up one last time and cover with a tight lid. Cook on very low flame for a good 10 minutes, placing a hot griddle below the biryani pan may be a good idea if it is not thick based.

It can be served immediately after removing from heat, but needs to be fluffed up before serving. It is very very aromatic as soon as you open the lid and the perfect accompaniment is a cool raita.

It was a pineapple, onion and boondi raita seasoned with salt pepper n dried mint powder this time....

This picture is taken with the leftover we enjoyed the next day and it was as good as the freshly made biryani. Potatoes in a tahiri or biryani is the husband's choice and fenugreek is mine. It is great if it is medium hot and the aroma of the spices is preserved by dum cooking.

If using fresh fenugreek leaves you will notice the color of the prepared rice is bright green and it looks more like a tahiri or pulav. The taste will be fresh but the aroma and texture of finished rice will be entirely different from this preparation. I have posted a soya methi tahiri using a paste of dill leaves and fenugreek leaves and that's a completely different recipe, a healthier version though.

Vegetarians have their own pulaos, tahiris and biryanis and since one pot rice meals always make comforting food it doesn't matter whether some biryani enthusiast approves it as a biryani or scorns it as a tahiri. They would know if they taste it.

Go make some no onion garlic vegetable biryani right now. 


  1. addition of fenugreek leaves must have brought different flavour,..enjoy the rain,..:-)

  2. I love fenugreek leaves, kasoori methi..feel like putting them in every dish!:)It adds so much flavor to everything and takes it to a whole new level!!
    I too posted a fenugreek corn pulao few days ago..
    Biryani looks really yummy..can imagine the wonderful taste n aroma!!

  3. Dear Sangeeta
    Thats a great recipe as will turn me into a vege soon, it seems..I like the pure vege, ( no garlic onion)
    Have a nice week ahead

  4. That sounds a simple one! Yummy combination and the plate looks so inviting. Will try it for sure.

  5. wow, this looks great, what a lovely biryani

  6. looks so good! Post the raita soon.

  7. you have combined it really well. sound yum!!

  8. biryani, um-um yani yum-yum :)

  9. Hi sangeeta

    My daughter loves Methi as well as biryani. but your methi biryani is something new for me. I will try some day.
    I have recently started a gluten free blog so do visit sometime.


  10. Hi Sangeeta,

    It's me again. I forgotto give my blog name.It is

    Let you know when I will make methi biryani.


  11. I tried biryani with fresh methi and it was a hit in my family