Mushroom and Peanut Biryani
By Suvir Saran
Photography by Stephen Klise
Food styling by Elle Simone Scott
This is a vegetarian biriyani purely of my own invention. It is unusual that there are no onions or tomatoes in it; its flavor is based solely on mushrooms, peanuts and a south Indian palate of spices. Serve this as a main course with raita, or as a side dish. In India, we leave whole spices in the final dish, but if you prefer, you can pick out the whole spices before layering the rice into the casserole dish.
The fact that it doesn’t contain any onion and garlic, makes it a great holiday recipe, but, rest assured, this dish packs tons of flavor and hits all the right spots. Make this and add pinches of delicious masala to your festive entertaining.
- Yield:6-8 servings
- Prep Time:15 minutes
- Cook Time:1 hour
- Total Time:1 hour 15 minutes
For the rice
2 cups aged basmati rice
10 cups water
6 black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
4 green cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
For the biryani
1/4 cup light vegetable oil, such as peanut oil or canola oil
6 black peppercorns
6 green cardamom pods
3 whole cloves
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
36 curry leaves, roughly torn
2 to 6 dried red chiles
1 cup of roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 pounds white button mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and thickly sliced
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sambhar powder
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked peppercorns
1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup chopped coriander leaves and tender green stems
1/2 cup water
Bring the water, peppercorns, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cinnamon to a boil in a large pot.
Add the rice and stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Return to a boil and reduce heat to a vigorous simmer. Cook, partially covered for 6 minutes.
Drain and set aside (you can pick out the whole spices if you like).
Heat your oven to 150˚C/350°F.
Heat the oil, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds and cumin in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat cooking until the cumin is browned and the mustard seeds start to pop, about 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Add the curry leaves, red chiles and the turmeric and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Add peanuts and cook for a couple of minutes to get their oil out and into the pan. You will start smelling their scent. Reduce the heat to low, add the ground coriander and cook while stirring, until the red chiles are starting to darken, about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and salt to the skillet and increase the heat to medium-high (the skillet will be full at this point). Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms release their liquid and the total volume of the mushrooms is reduced by about 1/2, about 4 to 5 minutes. Mix in the sambhar (or curry powder) and then stir in the buttermilk.
Bring to a vigorous simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by 1/2 and slightly thick, about 8 to 12 minutes (there will still be quite a bit of sauce). Stir in the cracked pepper and turn off the heat.
Grease a large 10-cup oven-safe casserole dish or Dutch oven (preferably one with a lid) with butter. Add 2 cups of the cooked rice, spreading it evenly over the bottom of the dish. Cover with 1/2 of the mushroom mixture and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cilantro. Evenly spread 1 1/2 cups of rice over the cilantro and cover with the remaining mushrooms and 1/2 of the remaining cilantro. Evenly spread the remaining rice on top and pour 1/2 cup of water around the edges of the dish. Cover tightly with aluminum foil, seal with a lid and bake for 35 minutes.
Remove the casserole from the oven and let it stand 10 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and serve. This dish pairs well with raita.
Store leftovers in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 3 days