Curry has been a mainstay of my diet for longer than I can recall. Indeed, the desire to know how to prepare a curry of my own is one of a number of things that helped nurture my love for cooking. In truth, making a good quality curry isn’t all that difficult. Though, there are a few golden rules one must adhere to if one’s curry is to impress. For instance, when making one’s own curry it is best to first toast the requisite spices, thus releasing their flavour. One must also remember to maintain a little patience, Rome was not built in a day and though your curry may be edible after 15 minutes, even one’s own mother would experience a growing sense of shame and disappointment if such a dish were to venture near her delicate taste buds. The longer a curry is cooked, the more time the flavour has to develop.
Unlike other varieties of curry a biryani requires very little effort on the part of the chef. Once the pot has entered the oven one is free to go about one’s day. This can be handy, particularly if one is in a rush; is there really much of a difference between a biryani and sticking a bag of chips in the oven? This recipe is truly delicious and if you have never attempted a biryani I urge you to do so. The way the flavours get absorbed into the rice is simply exquisite. Not only this, but since steam is an integral part of the cooking process flavours like cardamom work particularly well and give the dish a delicate fragrance.
What makes this dish particularly significant is the fact that it is the first dish I have cooked in the new kitchen. Not being able to cook for the past two or three weeks has been truly difficult, especially since it played such a major part in my life before the renovation. You have my sincerest apologies for depriving you of a number of delights which would otherwise have found their way onto the blog. Strictly speaking the kitchen is nowhere near finished yet; the cupboard doors are still being screwed on. However, the hob and oven are functioning and my photography table has been de-cluttered, so I’m more than happy.
Sweet Potato and Mushroom Biryani
• 400g basmati rice
• 2 medium sized carrots, roughly diced
• 1 fairly large sweet potato, cubed
• 125g button mushrooms, quartered
• 1 large onion, diced
• 750ml vegetable stock
• 1 tsp ground coriander
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp ground turmeric
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• ½ tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 tsp caraway seeds
• 5-6 cardamom pods
• A few good slugs of oil
• 1 lemon
• A handful of fresh coriander
• Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Put the sweet potato chunks into an oven dish, sprinkle them with a little cumin and ground coriander, followed by a little seasoning and oil. Cook them in the oven for around 15 minutes or until they begin to brown.
2. While the sweet potato is roasting start toasting the spices in a little oil, omit the cardamom for now. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes. In a separate pan, fry the mushrooms until they have browned and lost some of their moisture.
3. When the sweet potato is ready tip it, followed by the onions and mushrooms, into a large oven pot. Add the rice, carrots, stock and cardamom pods at this point. Reduce the temperature of the oven to 200C and bake for 30 minutes. By this time the rice should have absorbed all of the stock, but if it isn’t quite tender enough add a little more stock and pop it back in the oven. Serve with a wedge of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh coriander.
Cost: One-pot dishes such as this tend to be extremely heart-warming and filling but also cheap, this biryani is no exception. You’ll find that this pot of food will go very far, yet it will only set you back £2.40. You never know, it may even stretch to five servings if accompanied by naan bread. Enjoy!