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Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Tomato Biryani

TOMATO BIRYANI is my next favourite to the other Non – Veg biryani versions. This is my Mother’s Version of tomato biryani and she prepares this very similar to how she make a chicken biryani. To me there is only 2 things you need to be careful about in preparing this, and that makes all the difference in flavour, texture and taste. ONE the way you cook the onions and tomatoes. The onions need to be in a light brown colour, so wait till they get to that stage. If you can only wait until they are pink & translucent, then you are sure to get whole slices of onions in the end and I hate that. TWO the basmati rice. I was taught by my mother to handle them like newborns, very gentle so that the long drains stay long till it reaches the serving plate. I have given the recipe for pickled onions too, well I really don’t like raita with biryani. But you can also server with raita made with chopped onions, coriander, carrots and cucumber.

I am really sorry I could not take you through a pictorial representation. When I cook this next time, I promise to post the step by step pics. 

Serves 4 - 5

Tomato Biryani1

You Will Need:

3 Cups Basmati Rice
3 tbsp Oil
3 tbsp Ghee / Clarified Butter
3 Cinnamon Sticks
4 Green Cardamom Pods
7 Cloves
2 Bay leaves
1 Star Anise
6 Large Onions, Sliced
10 Greed Chillies, Pricked
1/2 Cup of Packed Mint Leaves, Finely Chopped
A tbsp of Ginger Garlic Paste
A tsp of Red Chilli Powder, More if Needed
3/4 Cup of Thick Curd / Yogurt
8 Large Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Carrot, Sliced
3/4 Cup of Loosely Packed Coriander Leaves, Finely Chopped
Cup of Soya Chunks
4 1/2 Cups of Water (1 1/2 cups of water for every cup of basmati rice)
Required Salt
Few drops of food colour mixed in 3 tbsp milk (Optional)

Pickled Onions:

2 Large Onion, Sliced
Juice of Half a Lime
Couple of Pinches of Salt

The Cooking:

Directions For the Biryani:

Soak the basmati rice for 25 mins, strain & keep aside. Cook the soya chunks according to the instructions given in the back of the back.

In a pressure cooker, add oil and ghee. Once hot crackle the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Now add the sliced onions & chillies and sauté on high for till the onions become a very light brown colour. Now add the mint leaves and ginger garlic paste. Keep the heat medium when you add ginger garlic paste, cos they tend to stick in the bottom of the cooker. Sauté for couple of mins and add chilli powder followed by curd / yogurt.

Tomato BiryaniSauté for couple of mins and tumble in the tomatoes and coriander leaves. Stir well and add sauté. Cover and cook on medium high heat till the tomatoes are cooked. This will take around 10 mins. Stir occasionally through out to make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the cooker. At this stage the gravy will look nice and red and the tomatoes appear cooked.

Pour in the water and turn the heat high. Once the it begins to boil, taste for salt & spice. It should taste a little salty and bit spicy. If its bland, add salt and spice accordingly. Once you add the rice, you can adjust anything. So once it begins to boil evenly, add the rice. DO NOT tumble all in one go. Take a handful of rice and spread them in evenly. Give one stir around the cooker making sure the rice is mixed in the gravy. Sprinkle the food colouring on top. 

Once small bubbles start to appear, put the lid on the pressure cooker and the weight. Set in on a medium burner and Turn the heat to the lowest. The trick here is when you set the heat to the lowest the pressure cooker will not release any steam which will make sure all the flavours are intact and the rice will not stick to the bottom of the cooker.

Set the alarm for 20 mins. Turn off the heat after 20 mins and let the steam be released on its own.

When you remove the lid after the steam has escaped, you can see that all the masala are layered on top with the cooked basmati rice in the bottom.This needs to be evenly mixed before serving. So take a plate or any large thing sufficient enough to take in the quantity of the biryani. Take a flat spatula and run it around the edges of the biryani making sure it reaches the bottom. Carefully invert the cooker over the plate and let the rice tumble in. Now very gently mix the rice few times so that the masala mix with the rice.

For the Pickled Onions:

Soak the sliced onions in water for 10 mins to get rid of the spice from the onions. Strain and let all the excess water drip off. Place the onions in a bowl and add salt & lime juice. Mix well and serve with the biryani.

  • You can also use ghee entirely or only oil.
  • Prick the chillies,so that they don’t burst when you sauté them.
  • The onions need to cook till they are a very light brown colour, but don’t make them too brown it will change the colour of the biryani in the end.
  • If the onions are not sautéed properly they will not dissolve into the biryani.
  • The yogurt / Curd must be thick but don’t use hung curd.
  • Use Country tomatoes (nattu thakkali) not the shiny hybrid ones, as they are sour in taste and are best for all types of biryanis.
  • Use good quality basmati rice. I always use India Gate Classic / Premium or Daawat Super Basmati Rice.
  • Once the basmati rice is added don’t stir too much, the long basmati rice grains will break.

Happy Cooking!


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