Soya Chunks Biryani Pulao/Pilaf Rice
Soya Chunks Biryani
Biriyani is generally a combination of rice with meat, chicken or vegetables. Here I have used Soya chunks, which hive it a nice texture and can be used instead of meat or chicken. It can be a meal in itself or can be served as part of a Indian meal.
Do not be put off by the long list of ingredients, it is an easy dish to cook. Make sure that you have all the ingredients sorted out before you start and follow steps. Cutting corners spoils the end result.
It can be made with a collection of vegetables like potatoes, peas, carrots, cauliflower florets etc, along with Soya chunks. Serves 4
BBQ Biriyani Pulao/Pilaf: Cook rice as per your recipe. Make small parcels, one parcel per person, each wrapped in aluminium foil. Place them on BBQ for a few minutes to heat, 5-10 minutes, turning over once. Serve the parcels straight from the BBQ.
Edited December 2020
250-300 gm. rice, cleaned, washed and soaked for 1/2 hour
2 litre water to cook rice
200 gm. Soya chunks, dry ones or fresh from a supermarket chiller section. Here I have used fresh ones.
2 medium to large onions
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 inch piece ginger
1/2 lime or lemon, cut into small pieces (not shown in picture)
1-2 tbsp. ghee or clarified butter
2 large cardamoms
2 green cardamoms
1 inch piece of cinnamon
2 bay leaves
3-4 black pepper corns
1/2 tsp. chilli powder (adjust to taste)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped or tinned tomatoes
1 bunch of coriander leaves, chopped (optional)
1 small bunch of mint leaves (you can use dry leaves, if out of season)
A few strands of saffron
2 tbsp. thick yoghurt*
Orange or jalebi food colour (optional)
Soak soya chunks in boiling hot water for 30 minutes or so (if you have fresh, chilled chunks, they do not require soaking).
Transfer to a sieve and rinse in running water. Allow to drain. If you are using fresh chunks, you don't need to soak them.
Peel, wash and slice onions thinly.
Peel, wash and grate ginger and garlic finely.
Measure all whole spices and keep aside.
Measure all other ingredients & keep aside.
Heat oil and brown the onions. Take out & place in a sieve to drain of all excess of oil. Keep aside.
In the same oil, add cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon, black peppers, ginger, bay leaves (all whole spices), garlic, soya chunks, salt, chilli powder and fry for 5 minutes.
Add yoghurt*, tomatoes, coriander and mint leaves, pieces of lime and fried onions, keeping 1/3rd of fried onion aside for later.
Cook, stirring frequently, until very little gravy is left.
Boil the water for rice with a few mint, coriander leaves (if used) & salt.
Add rice and boil briskly with lid off, until 2/3rd done (2 grains are felt, when rice is pressed and squashed between two fingers).
Drain the water off by transferring the rice to a colander/large sieve. Run a little cold water over it, to stop the rice from cooking further while resting. Leave in the colander for the water to drain out completely.
Grease an oven proof dish and place half of rice at the base.
Sprinkle half the fried onions on top.
Now dot with half the saffron on top of the rice.
Then spoon over all the soya chunks over it.
Top with the remaining rice.
Sprinkle some fried onions on top.
Dot with a little ghee and the remaining saffron in water.
Cover with aluminium foil and then a tight, ovenproof lid.
Put it in a medium hot oven, 170-180° C, on the centre shelf, for 20 minutes or so, until the rice is fully done. If you have a flame proof dish, it can be cooked directly on the hob, on a very low flame, with the lid tightly closed. This will take 20-30 minutes.
It can be prepared up to the step 21 and then kept in the fridge. Cooking time in oven will be increased by 10 minutes.
*Tips for cooking with yoghurt:
Always use full fat yoghurt, if possible. Skimmed milk yoghurt sometimes curdles during cooking. If you wish to use low fat yoghurt, add 1 heaped teaspoon of plain or corn flour per cup of yoghurt.
Make sure that the dish you are cooking is at room temperature. If yoghurt is cooked straight from the fridge, it may curdle.
When adding yoghurt during cooking, take out a few tablespoons of the hot food in a bowl, mix yoghurt, warming it a bit and then stir it back into the hot dish.
Substitute sour cream for yoghurt, using only half the amount.