We switched to brown basmati rice a few months back as it was a healthier choice for us. But kept wondering, how will it taste with rasam or sambar? Will we miss the taste and aroma of white rice? How will pulao taste, or vangi bhath for that matter. Each time we concluded that we liked the taste. So it was time to take the next step, making biryani.
Whether it is falafel with hummus, tahini and baba ganouj dip, chicken sahwarma or kebabs, I enjoy all of them. But I was ready to experiment, so I set my foodie radar working. I looked around for one recipe which captures all the elements of Middle Eastern cooking. Then I came across Kalam Polow (or Polo) or we can say Persian biryani.
Rice that is cooked (parboiled) after soaking is called Chelow. A close relative is Polow where the rice is cooked with layers of meat, vegetables, herbs and steamed together, much like our biryani. More information here.
Kalam Polow is traditionally made with ground meat which I substituted with Tofu. I also tweaked the recipe by adding fresh chopped cilantro to the shredded cabbage. I also reduced the oil to about 31/2 tablespoon. Here is how I made it.
21/2 cups Basmati rice
1/2 package extra firm tofu - small cubes
2 cups white cabbage - shredded
1 medium onion - sliced in half moons
2-3 tomatoes chopped thinly or 1 tbspoon tomato paste
1 tspoon cinnamon and cloves powder
31/2 cup olive oil
few strands saffron
1 tbspoon lime juice
salt and pepper to taste.
Soak the rice for about an hour and then cook it till it is al-dente or just short of tender.
Heat about 11/2 tspoon oil in a pan and fry the onions till it starts turning brown. Add tofu and cook it tofu starts turning golden. Add about 1/4 cup water, clove and cinnamom powder, 1/2 of the saffron strands (soak them in water first), tomatoes, lime juice, salt and pepper. Cook it for another 2-3 minutes till everything mixes well together.
Add 1 tspoon oil in a pan and add the cabbage. Cook it for 5-6 minutes till it starts turning golden and tender. Add salt and pepper and cook for another min on low. Add chopped cilantro and set it aside.
Now bring 1/4 cup water and 1 tbspoon oil to a boil. Then add layers of rice alternating it with cabbage and Tofu. I did rice-tofu-rice-cabbage-rice-tofu-rice. The top layer should be rice and it is usually arranged so that it builds up to a dome shape.
Heat another 1/4 cup water and 1 tbspoon oil and pour it over the rice. Close the lid tightly and cook it on low heat for 30-40 min.
In the meantime, mix about 2 tbspoon rice with the rest of the saffron water and keep it aside for garnishing.
For serving, toss the rice gently together and serve garnished with saffron rice. We had ours with fresh yogurt and crispy fish. Our middle of the week treat!
This is my entry for Monthly Mingle # 9 Arabian Nights hosted by lovely Meeta at What's for Lunch, Honey?