Chickpea Biryani – No Fuss Weeknight  Dinners

  Biryanis  are    these  wonderful    casseroles  of  layers of rice  and  vegetable (or meat)   with   a heavenly blend  of   spices .  This  is  more  of a  communal  meal  where there is  main  dish   is the  star  with   coterie  of  pickles, chutneys  and  sauces .   There are  umpteen  variations , regional  as  well as  cultural . These  were a  big  deal during  the  family gatherings  of our  childhood . There will be   one  aunt   cleaning  and  prepping  the  rice ,  one    taking  care  of  the  spices and  making  the  paste ,   and  another  taking  care of  the  meat or  veggies   going into it . The  uncles  handled  the  market  runs  and  us,   the  unruly  kids ..

As   tantalizing as  this  dish is  it is not  something  that   I   attempt  to   recreate on a   week night .  Rice  is  partially cooked  on the   stove top ,  the  vegetables  or  meats  are  seasoned  and  par cooked  and   finally assembled and  baked .    This  multi step  slow cooking  process    yields   the  perfectly cooked   flavorful casserole .  Here is  my  way of  capturing  some  of the  magic  .  It is  not really a   recipe  ,  but  more of a  process .
 What  I had  in hand  was  Chickpeas (Chana) and  some  beautiful  orange  cauliflower.  Look how  pretty it is .  I wanted  to make  something  that  preserved  its  color .   So while the  oven   was preheating , I got  to   work on the   veggies .  Soak  the   rice in    double  the   amount of water.  Gather  your  spices ,   and  slice   some  onions  , ginger  and  garlic .
Lightly oil  an oven safe  dish   that  is  large enough to  hold  the  finished  casserole  . Spread the   spices   and  sliced   ginger  garlic  and  onions  in a  single  layer. Transfer  it  to  the  oven .  This  gives the  spices  a  head s tart  and  they  begin to release  their   wonderful  aromas .While  the  spices  are  in the  oven heat the   required  quantity of  water , and  add  any additional  spices  to it .  I have   used  diluted  chickpea  water   and  some  garam  masala . This is  the  prefect  place  to add  tomato paste  or   your  favorite  spice  mix .  Bring  it  to a  boil .
After about  10 minutes  take out  the  dish from the   oven  carefully . Use Mittens … Add the  veggies  and   chickpeas on top  of the  onions .
Drain and  spread  the   rice  evenly over  the   vegetables.  Pour the   boiled water  on top  and  add the  cilantro  and  raisins.   I  like  to  cook  my cilantro , especially after  I  read  about  recent  food borne infections caused by  cilantro . But  it  is  totally  a  matter  of   choice .
Cover  tightly with  aluminium  foil  , or  a  lid   and  return to oven  .  Usually the  rice is  done  in  30 to 40 minutes .   Here I  have  garnished  the  top  with fried  onions   . Store bought   fried  onions  are  a  good  option . Spread  the   friend onions in a  single  layer on a  cookie  sheet  and  place on the  lower rack  of  the  oven during  the  last  5  minutes  of  cooking  for  an  evenly brown , crunchy   texture.

Serve   with  raita , pickle ,  chutney  of  your  choice .

Notes : 

  • Use any aromatic   rice  that is  not  very starchy  like  Jasmine ,  Basmati , Jeera   .
  • Follow   the  package  instructions   on rice cooking  ratios ,  chances are  the   rice  merchants  “know” what  they are  talking  about .
  • The  recipe  given  makes a   mildly   flavored  casserole .

Enjoy !!!


Chickpea Biryani

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Chickpea Biryani


Basmati Rice - 2 C
Onion - 1 Medium
Ginger - 1 inch piece
Garlic - 2 Cloves
Chick Peas - 1 1/2 C Cooked (15 oz can )
Cashew nuts - 1/4 C Roasted (optional)
Raisins - 1/4 C (optional)
Mint/Cilantro leaves - A small bunch ( 1 C loosely packed )
Cauliflower - 1 Small head ( 2 C florets )
Carrots or Beans : 2 C diced
Dry Spices
Fennel - 1/2 Tsp
Cinnamon Stick - 2 (1 Inch each )
Cloves - 10
Bay leaf - 2
Cardamom - 2 to 3 pods
Cumin - 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 Tsp (to taste)
Garnish (optional)
Fried Onions : 1 C


Clean and soak the rice in double the amount of water for at least 10 minutes .

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) .

Slice the onions , ginger and garlic finely .Oil an oven proof dish / casserole and spread the chopped onion, ginger and garlic evenly on the bottom .Spread the dry spices and nuts (if using) on top and place the dish in the oven , uncovered . Bake for 10 minutes .

Drain the beans and transfer the bean liquid into a sauce pan . Add enough water to make just a little over 4 cups (according to cooking directions for 2 C of rice ). Add salt and garam masala . Bring it to boil .

Dice the vegetables to bite size pieces .Take the casserole dish from the oven . Layer the vegetables and chickpeas evenly on top of the onions . Drain and spread the rice on top . Pour the boiling water on top of the rice . Sprinkle the raisins on top . Evenly scatter the cilantro/mint over the rice . Cover the dish with a lid or aluminium foil and return to the oven . Bake for 30 to 40 minutes .

Towards the last 5 minutes of cooking spread 1 C friend onions on a cookie sheet and place in the oven .

Take the cooked biryani out of the oven . Garnish with the fried onions before serving .

One thought on “Chickpea Biryani – No Fuss Weeknight  Dinners

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