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Brown Rice Mushroom biriyani – a time-tested family recipe

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Biriyani is a very famous Indian dish with many variations depending on the state in India. While in its original form this was a meat based delicacy, over time vegetarian versions have become popular. In most preparations the rice and vegetable gravy are prepared separately and layered alternatively in a large dish to combine the flavors. By doing this, the distinct taste of the rice and gravy are preserved and comes together on the plate. Every bite is a surprise packet of either rice, or gravy or both. 

Families who have biriyani in their repertoire, have their own traditional recipe, which gets handed down generation after generation. This is one such recipe but broken down and combined to make it easy for today’s generation. The aroma of this dish is very unique and cannot be compared to any restaurant biriyani. There is not a single spice which stands out in this dish. It is a melange of all the distinct elements fusing into a harmonious dish. 

How did I land upon this recipe ? Decades ago, when I was a small girl, one of our neighbors was a family from another state of India. My aunt who was a teenager, was close friends with the girl from the family and she used to frequently try out unique dishes at their place. Their friendship has stood the test of time and they are still in touch. During one of my aunts visits back home, she sat with her friend and asked her for her family recipes. Her friend shared them graciously and my aunt wrote them down. During the past few months, everyone has been cooking full-time and she happened to dig out some of these written down recipe books. She sent me pictures of the hand written recipe with side notes here and there. Considering myself very lucky, I got down to dissect this one ! A big THANK YOU to my dear aunty B and her friend L 🙏

The original recipe, handles each spice and flavor individually and adds them one at a time. In order to save time, I chose to combine some of them. Follow this recipe step by step. Dont be alarmed by the number of ingredients, most of these spices are regularly used in Indian cuisine. Some of the steps can be done in advance such as preparing the spice powder. 

I like to utilize brown rice where possible, but feel free to try this recipe with basmati rice. I am sure it will be spectacular ! 

This recipe by no means is the daily go to recipe, but keep it in your back pocket for that special meal when you want to impress your guests. By following the recipe, you can be assured of a successful outcome. 

Advance prep tip – Biriyani spice mix can be prepared days ahead to save time. 


Step 1 – Get spice mix ready – 

Ingredients for Spice mix – 

Dry roast the following spices, cool and grind to a powder – 

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Peppercorns – 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg (grated) – 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch
Cloves – 5
Cardamom – 5

(I made 4 times the quantity and stored in a glass jar in the pantry, it can be used up to a year) 

Step 2 – Marinate the vegetable layer – 

Ingredients – 

Mushrooms (mixed varieties) – 16 oz 
Yogurt – 4 tbsps 
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp 
Salt 

➤ Marinate the mushrooms in yogurt, turmeric and salt and set aside

Step 3 – Rice layer – 

Ingredients – 

Brown Rice – 2 1/2 cups 
Cinnamon – 2 inch piece
Cloves – 5 
Oil – 2 tbsps
Onion chopped – 1/2 cup 
Coriander chopped – 2 tbsps
Mint chopped – 2 tbsps 

Procedure – 
➤ Fry the spices in oil lightly. 
➤ Add the rice and fry for 3 mins. 
➤ Add the onions, coriander (cilantro) and mint and 5 cups of water and cook in a rice cooker. 

Step 4 – Paste for Vegetable layer – 

➤ Grind the following to a paste – 

Ginger – 2 inch piece
Garlic – 2 pods
Green chillies – 4 
Coriander (cilantro) – 2 tbsps
Mint leaves – 2 tbsps 
Fennel seeds – 1 tsp 
Cashewnuts – 10
Khus khus (soaked in water) – 1 tbsp

Step 5 – Cook the vegetable layer – 

Ingredients – 

Onion sliced – 1/2 cup 
Marinated vegetables
Paste 
Spice powder 
Oil – 2 tbsps 

Procedure – 
➤ Start by heating the oil and frying the onions 
➤ Add the paste and marinated vegetables and mix well 
➤ Add salt and put a lid on and cook till vegetables are tender 
➤ Sprinkle 1-2 tsps of spice powder and mix 
FINAL STEP –

Assembling the layers – 

➤ Now that we have the rice and vegetable layers ready, we just need to assemble them alternatively and sprinkle plenty of coriander leaves and mint leaves on every layer. 
➤ Divide rice into 3 portions. Divide vegetable gravy into 2 portions. 
➤ Layer them as – rice first, then vegetable gravy, herbs, rice 2nd layer, vegetable gravy 2nd layer, herbs 2nd layer, finally finish with rice 3rd layer and herbs 3rd layer. 
➤ Put a lid and set this aside for 30 minutes before serving. 
➤ The juices from the gravy will start to permeate and mix with the rice, yet preserving their unique flavors. 
➤ Serve by cutting a wedge till the bottom to get all the layers onto the plate. 

Enjoy it with a spicy raita – I served it with carrot raita, recipe coming soon ! 
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