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Sumptuous, aromatic, and healthy biryani rice dish for the fastidious gourmand

Munnar, in the southern Western Ghats, is also known for its spices - cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, coffee, tea, pepper, coco and several herbs used to make Ayurvedic medicinesis situated at an altitude of 5000 to 8000 feet above sea level
Munnar, in the southern Western Ghats, is also known for its spices - cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon, coffee, tea, pepper, coco and several herbs used to make Ayurvedic medicinesis situated at an altitude of 5000 to 8000 feet above sea level
Munar Hill Station in Kerala, South India. Photo by Lekha Keister

Unbelievable as this may seem, it is possible to have an incredibly delicious meal for most palates (demonstrably proven), that is essentially healthy for you! The trick is in the quality of the ingredients.

  Traditionally, Kerala Biriani rice is prepared with meat such as chicken, lamb, or mutton and involves a more intricate array of spices, eggs, and ghee. The recipe in this article is for the preparation of a lighter but just as delectable a meal.
Photo by Lekha Keister

It is a given that biryani rice is in menus of Indian restaurants. You may find, however, differences in quality, depending on the restaurant. So why not use a fool-proof method of producing on your own the most delectable dish of Kerala biryani rice which, if done correctly, will "wow" not only vegetarians but non-vegetarians as well; the ingredients are vegetarian, but the taste is out of this world!

Here goes:

Ingredients:
1. Two scooping cups of uncooked Indian biryani rice (preferably from an Indian store since the authentic traditional taste of the biryani rice is not there if the biryani rice that you get was grown in other parts of the world).
2. A can of Campbell's mushroom soup (for the diet conscious, choose the 99% fat free brand since there will be no difference in the ultimate taste of the dish)
3. A cup of roasted cashews
4. A cup of raisins, preferably the darker variety
5. A sprig of curry leaves and a sprig of mint leaves
6. Four table spoons of olive oil
7. Pepper corns (5 or 6)
8. Whole cardamom with shells partially opened (4 or 5)
9. Whole cloves (4 or 5)
10. Whole cinnamon sticks (5 of one-inch long pieces)
11. One Tbsp. of finely chopped fresh ginger
12. Two Tbsp. of finely chopped garlic
13. Three cups of freshly cut chopped onions
14. 1 teaspoon of powdered turmeric
15. Salt to taste
Directions:
Part I: Wash the uncooked rice vigorously and sieve it to remove excess water. Put it aside.

Part II: Mix 1/2 a can of mushroom soup with 1/2 a cup of warm water and stir till fully mixed. Separately, warm 3 cups of water. (The 1 cup soup mix and 3 cups of warm water total four cups of liquid, which is double the 2 cups of uncooked rice.) Put both the soup mix and water aside.

Part III: In a deep and wide steel cooking container, heat two tablespoon of olive oil in medium heat and then add the pepper corns and stir till they start to pop. Immediately add one cup of chopped onion and stir vigorously till they become transparent and starting to brown. Then add: ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, curry and mint leaves and stir vigorously for two minutes. Then add turmeric and salt to taste.

Part IV: Add the washed rice into the cooking pan containing all the cooked ingredients and stir until the rice has fully mixed with the ingredients. Before the rice starts to brown, add the mushroom soup mix and the three cups of water into the container and heat to boil.

Part V. As soon as the rice starts to boil, lower the cooking temperature to "low" and place the lid over the cooking pan, securely covering the container.

Part VI. Let the rice cook in the container in "low" temperature for 15 minutes. It should be fully cooked by then. Just remove the container from the heated cooking range to a separate room temperature area, but let the lid remain close.

Part VII. Fry the remaining chopped onion in the remaining olive oil in a separate frying pan until the onions start to brown. Then add to the mix the cashews and raisins. Stir for two minutes and then set aside.

Part VIII. Serve the rice on a large and shallow wide plate and sprinkle the top with the cooked mix of onions, cashews and raisins. If the cooked rice is excessive for the plate, put the excess rice into a container and store in the refrigerator for another time.

You are done! Enjoy the aroma and the bright colors of the dish you have produced: the yellow of the rice, and shades of brown --- cashews, raisins, cloves, cinnamon sticks - and green of the curry and mint leaves!

Bon appétit!

Note: The dish may be eaten with a main dish- be it meat curry, vegetable curry, and/or Tandoori Chicken - and Indian yogurt salad (see: http://exm.nr/1egDTMY), or any other main dish you prepare (not necessarily Indian dish).