This veggie biryani is made and served on special occasions – lift the lid at the table and enjoy the fantastic aroma as the steam fills the room

To make a fragrant biryani, you need a pot with a very tight-fitting lid. If you don’t have one, cover a normal pan tightly with foil, then put the lid on top.

Ingredients

  • basmati rice 370g
  • star anise 4
  • black peppercorns 10
  • cinnamon stick 1
  • fine sea salt 1 tsp

SAUCE

  • ghee 2 tbsp
  • star anise 2
  • cinnamon stick 1
  • cumin seeds 1 tsp
  • cloves 3
  • onion 1, finely chopped
  • garlic and ginger paste 2 tbsp (see cook’s notes below)
  • broccoli 50g, cut into florets
  • aubergine 50g, cut into small cubes
  • carrots 50g, roughly chopped
  • baby potatoes 50g, cut into small cubes
  • peas 50g
  • green beans 50g, cut into small pieces
  • low-fat greek yogurt 250g
  • ground turmeric ½ tsp
  • kashmiri chilli powder 2 tsp (more or less, to taste – see cook’s notes below)
  • garam masala 1 tbsp
  • paneer 200g, cut into small cubes
  • skimmed milk 125g
  • saffron a good pinch
  • coriander a small bunch, finely chopped
  • mint a small bunch, finely chopped
  • onion 1, sliced and cooked until caramelized (optional)

Method

  • STEP 1.Put the rice in a large bowl and cover with water. Swirl it around until the water becomes cloudy, then drain. Repeat this process until the water runs almost clear. Cover the rice with water again and soak for 30 minutes, then drain.
  • STEP 2. Bring 1½ litres of water to the boil with the star anise, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick and salt, then tip in the soaked rice. Simmer the rice for 6 minutes or until it’s almost cooked through but still a bit hard. Drain and rinse under cold water.
  • STEP 3. Now make the sauce. Melt 1 tbsp of the ghee in a large pot that’s just big enough to hold the rice and sauce. Toss in the star anise, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds and cloves, and let these spices infuse into the ghee for 30 seconds. Stir in the onion and fry for 5 minutes or until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and ginger paste. Stir to combine, and cook for 30 seconds to remove the rawness of the garlic and ginger. Add the vegetables and fry for 3 minutes, then add the yogurt, turmeric, chilli powder and garam masala. Cook for another minute, then stir the paneer into the sauce. Remove from the heat and season with salt and black pepper. Transfer two-thirds of the sauce to a bowl.
  • STEP 4. Heat the milk until just hot, but not boiling. Transfer to a cup, then stir through the saffron. Add the remaining tbsp of ghee to the saffron-milk mixture.
  • STEP 5 .Now cover the sauce in the pot with a third of the rice and top with some of the coriander and mint, some caramelized onions (if using) and a third of the saffron milk mixture. Repeat with two more layers, using the sauce you previously set aside. Put the lid back on the pan and steam over a low-medium heat for a further 20 minutes. To serve, stir it all up at the table and dig in.