Recipe / Desi Thursdays

Qubuli Biryani


• 65 gm skinned channa dal or yellow split peas
• 450 gms Basmati or any other long-grain rice
2.5 gm ground turmeric
• 60 ml vegetable oil
115 gm onion (1 large), peeled, cut in half and then sliced thinly
10 gm peeled fresh ginger
5 gm garlic, finely crushed
• 75 ml plain yoghurt
• Salt, to taste
1/8 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
• 30 ml ghee or 25gm unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
• 30 ml milk
15 ml fresh green coriander, finely chopped
15 ml fresh mint, finely chopped
2-4 fresh green chillies, very finely chopped
• 3 lts water


Although a dish of rice and beans, this is a very elegant one.
Serves 6

Clean the channa dal and wash it in several changes of water. Leave to soak in enough water to cover it by 3 inches for 1 hour.
Clean the rice and wash it in several changes of water. Leave to soak in enough water to cover it by 2 inches for 30 minutes. Drain.
Put the dal and its soaking liquid into a pan. Add 1.5 gm turmeric and bring to a boil.
Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, turn the heat down and simmer for about 30 minutes or until it is almost tender but the grains are still whole. Drain.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high flame. When hot, put in the onions. Stir and fry them until they are a rich, reddish-brown color and crisp.
Remove with a slotted spoon and spread out on a plate lined with absorbent kitchen paper (paper towels).
Put the ginger and garlic into the same oil. Stir and fry until lightly browned. Now put in the remaining turmeric and 15 ml of yoghurt. Stir and fry until most of the liquid in the yoghurt evaporates and the remaining particles brown lightly.
Add the remaining yoghurt, 15 ml at a time, and cook in the same way. Now put in the drained dal, 2.5 ml salt and chilli powder. Stir to mix. Saute the dal for 1 minute.
Heat the oven to 250°F/170°C/Gas mark 3.
Bring water to a rolling boil. Add 15 gm of salt and stir. Now put in the drained rice and bring to a boil again. Boil vigorously for 5 minutes or until the rice is about three-Quarters cooked. It should retain a slim, hard, inner core. Drain the rice and empty half of it into a wide, oven proof casserole- type pan.
Cover the rice with the cooked dal. Cover the dal with the remaining rice. Spread the ghee and the browned onions over the rice. Sprinkle the lemon juice and milk, fresh coriander, mint and green chillies over the top. Cover tightly, first with foil and then with a lid and place in the oven for 30 minutes. Stir gently to mix before serving.

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