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Back May 26th, 2011 Forward
Stove-top "Oven Bake" Biriyani

This is my adaptation of the method for the Patak's Oven Bake Biriyani sauce. I love biriyani in general because it's a one-pot meal which doesn't require me to be constantly watching over it, or fussing about it, plus it comes in a hot and spicy variant, and is therefore my kind of curry. I adapted the recipe for the stovetop because it cuts the amount of washing up I have to do by at least two items (casserole dish and lid).

What you'll need:

* A large saucepan, preferably heavy-based, with a tight fitting lid.
* At least two burners free on the stove (particularly if you're using an electric stove).
* 1 jar Pataks Oven Bake Biriyani curry sauce (look in the "Indian foods" section of the supermarket)
* 3/4 - 1 cup basmati rice
* Water as per instructions on the jar
* Meat of your choice sliced thinly.

Optional extras:

* 1 coarsely chopped onion
* Veges to taste or preference, chopped (there are two broad groupings here to consider. The first is the vegetables which can be chopped up and fried up with the onion; the second is green leafy vegetables which don't require long cooking and can be added in later. I've not tried adding root vegetables, mostly because I don't know whether they'd work properly)
* 2 teaspoons sambal olek (I add this because I prefer my curries very hot - even the "hot and spicy" recipe can be a bit mild for me).
* Extra water, if necessary (if you're adding extra rice compared to the recipe, you'll need extra water).
* 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves (cilantro, for folks in the US) - this is *very* optional, and can easily be left out. However, I've found it does work well with the flavour of the biriyani sauce.

How to do it:

* In your large saucepan, fry up your onion and fry-able vegetables (if you're using them) along with the meat, until the meat is sealed. This takes about five minutes maximum, at a high heat.
* Add in the rice, the Biriyani sauce, and the water (I use the water to rinse out the inside of the jar of biriyani sauce). If you're adding extra spices, such as sambal olek, add them now.
* Stir to combine.
* Bring to the boil and boil for approximately 1 - 3 minutes, stirring constantly. The aim is to get the process of cooking the rice off to a very strong start.
* Now, put on the lid, reduce the heat to the absolute bare minimum, and leave it alone for at least 20 minutes. You're cooking using the absorption method here - the lid needs to stay on, and the heat needs to be as low as you can get it without turning the stove off. I actually change burners on my (gas) stove, doing the initial cooking up on a fairly large burner, and then moving to the smallest burner of the four at the lowest heat it can manage for the rest of the cooking.
* After 20 minutes, turn the heat off, remove the lid, and stir your biriyani. Try to get the stuff which has stuck to the bottom of the pan off the bottom of the pan, but don't be too worried about it if you can't. Now is the time to add green leafy vegetables, and the coriander, if you're using it.
* Put the lid back on, leave the pan off the heat, and stand for another 10 minutes.
* Stir once more, serve and enjoy.


* As far as the meat goes, I've tried this using beef, chicken, seafood salad extender (the sort of red and white mock crab stuff you can buy frozen at supermarkets), and pork rashers. The key is that the meat needs to be able to be fried up quickly, and then able to handle the long cooking time of the rice without falling to bits.
* The oven-bake version is pretty consistent with this, except that once you've boiled everything up, you transfer it all to a casserole (with a tight-fitting lid) and bake it in a moderate oven for about 30 minutes before stirring, adding any leafy green ingredients, and leaving to sit for 10 minutes.
* The curry sauce itself comes in three different variants, depending on what sort of curry you prefer - there's mild and fruity, hot and spicy, and a medium variant. I love the hot and spicy, and I haven't really tried any of the others.
* If you're finding the flavours to be too bland, add a bit of salt with the rice and sauce.

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Back May 26th, 2011 Forward