October 31st, 2012
Stuffed Eggplant Biriyani With Mixed Vegetable Raita
Soon after my TV show went on air and the online links became available, there were repeated requests for this recipe.
Its interesting to note how recipes evolve and are handed down from generations. The recipes that you find here are those that I love cooking and eating and more often than not it would have a memory or a story attached to it which may come from my experiments and cooking in my kitchen or real life events that I happen to be a part of.
In the place where my parents live, most of my neighbours happen to be good cooks. When one of the ladies was a young bride living in another town, she became intrigued by a meat stuffed eggplant biriyani that her Muslim neighbour used to whip up at frequent intervals. Being a vegetarian, she tried doing the same replacing the meat with vegetarian ingredients.
The same intrigue was passed on to me when I came across this dish which was made at one of my pre wedding parties that our neighbours gave me and I tried to replicate the same dish in my kitchen using pure vegetarian or sattvik ingredients.
I have cooked this dish many a time, feeding friends, family and loved ones and gaining their appreciation. Once my show went on air, I was totally humbled by the response I got from my coterie of friends, family and well wishers.
This dish is a real delicacy and surprisingly this has been loved by people who don’t like eggplants as well! It is also one of those dishes in which you won’t miss the absence of ingredients like onions and garlic which are commonly used in biriyani preparations. Served with the mixed vegetable raita, it makes for a very appetizing and hearty meal.
At times, particularly when there are no guests, I just make this rice preparation and the raita. The taste and the satisfaction of these two combinations, lingers through the day.
Here are the 3 part online links to the TV show on Times Now (which is one of India’s leading news channels) where I demonstrate how to make this rice. Hope you enjoy it!
Stuffed Eggplant Biriyani With Mixed Vegetable Raita Recipe
Choose young fresh eggplants to make this dish. In India, the eggplants are generally not bitter, but if you reside in an area where you get bitter eggplants you might want to soak the slit eggplants in slated water for a few minutes to get rid of the bitterness.
500 gm (2 1/2 cups) basmati rice
For the stuffing:
(Spices to be roasted)
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
6 green cardamom pods, shelled
2” piece cinnamon or cassia
(Other ingredients for the stuffing)
50 gm (1/2 cup) coconut, fresh or frozen
50 gm (1/2 cup) coriander
50 gm (1/2 cup) mint or pudina
2 to 3 green chilies
2 tsp ginger, chopped
1 tsp salt
60 ml (1/4 cup water)
500 gm (8 to 10 pieces) medium sized eggplants, slit into 4 with stems intact
5 tbsp oil
1 tsp shahijeera or black cumin seeds
5 to 6 cloves
2” cinnamon, broken into bits
4 to 5 star anise
2 to 3 tej patta or bay leaf
1 tsp asafetida
1 litre (4 cups) water
2 1/2 tsp salt
Juice of a lime
Wash and soak the rice in water for about half an hour.
In a small skillet or wok, dry roast the spices on medium low heat for 3 to 4 minutes without burning them.
In a blender or food processor put in all the ingredients for the stuffing, the dry and fresh ingredients and process to a smooth paste using very little water. This paste should not have too much liquid in it to prevent it from oozing out of the eggplants.
With the help of a knife make four slits in the eggplants, keeping the stems intact. Stuff them with the freshly prepared paste and keep aside.
In a stock pot or any pot with a tight fitting lid, heat the oil over a medium flame. Lower the heat and add in the whole spices.
Stir fry the spices and add the prepared spice paste, reserving 2 to 3 tbsp for the raita. Cook until the raw smell of the spices disappears.
Drain the rice and put it into the pot. Give it a good stir, add the water and bring to a boil.
Put in the lime juice and the salt, cover and cook on low heat for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the rice is half cooked and the water is almost but not fully absorbed.
Once the rice is half cooked, place the stuffed eggplants or brinjals all over the rice, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the rice and the eggplants are cooked.
Serve with the prepared raita.
Mixed Vegetable Raita
400 gm (1 1/2 cups) fresh yogurt
1 carrot, grated
1 cucumber, chopped*
1 tomato, chopped
2 to 3 tbsp of the stuffing masala paste
1/2 tsp salt
In a bowl, put in the yogurt and stir well with a whisk or spoon until there are no lumps. Put in the salt, masala paste and stir again. Add the prepared vegetables and mix well.
* Cut a slice from the tip of the cucumber and rub it in a circular motion on the cut part to remove bitterness. A sticky paste oozes out of the cucumber and out comes the bitter juices. If you add a bitter cucumber then the entire raita gets spoilt so this step is very crucial.