[Recipe] Mushroom biryani

MUSHROOM BIRYANI

Main ingredients: mushrooms, onions, basmati rice and shallots in rough proportions of 1.5:1:1:0.25 by weight. Use sturdy mushrooms such as cremini or portobello.

1)Rinse and soak rice.
2) If using cremini, leave whole (after cutting off the bottom 1/4" of stem). If portobello, chop into big pieces.
3) Put mushrooms in pan with ghee without overcrowding (may have to do this in batches) on medium high and cook till they have given off their liquid and are lightly browned.
4) Meanwhile chop the shallots finely, and thinly slice the onions.
5) Put sliced onions in pan with ghee and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, till onions are darkly caramelized. Simultaneously saute the chopped shallots in ghee till soft and translucent, add finely chopped garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli powder, a touch of turmeric, salt, and aromatic spices such as cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cloves, cardamom and black cardamom. (Amounts based on mood and desire.)
6) Cook spice mixture till fragrant, and fat separates.
7) Add some drained yoghurt and cook on low heat till flavors have melded.
8) Add mushrooms, stir to mix well and cook on low heat for another 5 minutes or so. Mixture should be moist, but not wet.
9) Parboil rice till almost completely cooked, but with slight resistance.
10) Infuse some milk with saffron.
11) Layer half the rice in a baking dish coated with ghee (the inside of the dish). (If you can, use ghee squeezed out of caramelizing-onion process and the cooking mushroom process.)
12) Add the mushrooms and half the onions and pour half the milk-saffron mixture over it.
13) Layer rest of rice, rest of onions and pour the remaining saffron milk. Put lid on the dish and seal edges with dough or foil. (If foil, crimp to get tight seal.) Put in low oven (275 degrees or so) for 20-30 minutes.

Variations I’ve made:
A] Vegan mushroom biryani: omit step 7, and use water in step 10.
B] Root and fungus biryani: Reduce the quantity of mushrooms and use roasted turnips, carrots, parsnips, etc., to make up the difference.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold