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About 20 years ago, I knew a Tamil Sufi named Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. He was tiny, very old, had a bald head, a white beard, and very much reminded me of a spider monkey. And he was a great cook. This recipe is based on his biriyani, but I've added some things. There are many different styles of biriyani, but basically, it's Indian fried rice and not hard to make.

You will need:



Wash and cut the potatoes into approximately one inch cubes, leaving the skin on if you wish. Cut the carrots into quarter inch pieces, cutting on the diagonal. Rough chop the onions. Heat some canola or grapeseed oil in a skillet and cook the potatoes and carrots together, salting them lightly. The idea here is to get the potatoes crispy and the carrots somewhat blackened. When the potatoes begin to crisp and are cooked inside (check with the tip of a knife), add the onions and continue to sauté to caramelize the onions. When the onions are a golden-brown, you can add some spices.

If you are using Spider Monkey’s Biriyani spices, add the seed spices at this point. Let them cook for a few minutes and then add a little butter and put in the powdered spices. If you are going to use curry powder, add the whole cumin seed and crushed chilies first. Let them cook for a couple of minutes and then add some butter to the potato/carrot/onion mixture and mix in the curry powder and a little ground cardamon. Cook until the spices are fragrant.

Now add the rice, mix everything together and continue to cook. Cook for about ten minutes and then taste. Add more salt if needed and if it isn’t hot enough, melt a little butter in a small pot and add some curry powder and crushed chilis to it. Cook until the spices darken and become fragrant and then mix them into the rice.

Five minutes or so before serving, add chopped greens, peas, and some raisins. Garnish with snipped chives. The contrast in texture between the crispy potatoes and the cooked rice, the spiciness combined with the sweetness of the raisins make this really delicious. It can be served with a tofu or meinjin dish, but if you added some nuts, it would be a complete protein and could be served as a one-bowl meal.

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