Friday, May 18, 2012

Tofu Biryani

Well of course it isn't traditional. I also omitted the cashew nuts, so it is a nut-free Biryani as well.

This is a two-day project, but unless you have a particularly greedy bunch to feed, it should provide you with several days of leftovers. That makes the effort seem worth it to my mind. I used tofu because I'm now wild about seitan "meat" replacements. I have no idea how this would work with them, but if you try it, I'd be interested to hear how it turned out. When re-heat this, add a few drop of olive oil to a large pan and give it a blast of heat before reducing it to low. This will help it maintain a crispy bottom layer of rice.

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 small onions, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons (not a misprint) finely chopped fresh ginger (peel it first)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 chicken flavoured (or veggie) soup cubes, crushed and diluted with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces plain yoghurt

Mix it all together really well. Take a package of extra firm tofu, cut it into 4 slices and press it dry under weights. Mix with marinade and layer in a non-reactive pan (glass is good). Chill overnight.

Next day, remove the tofu from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and cut into small cubes. In a heavy, heat proof pan (I used a Dutch oven) bake in a 400 degree f. oven for 30 minutes, stirring a few times to allow for even browning.

Meanwhile, slice 3 onions as thinly as possible. Measure out 1/3 cup of olive oil. Remove 3 tablespoons. You will use this to fry the onions. Set aside 3 tablespoons of raisins, and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom to fry with the onions.

Remove the tofu from the oven and stir in the reserved marinade, and the reserved oil. Cover and let sit until needed. Heat 1/4 cup of milk, 1 teaspoon saffron threads, and 1 teaspoon of sugar just until sugar dissolves. Let steep 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, make the rice. Boil 1 1/2 cups long grain while rice in enough water to cover by several inches. Cook 7 minutes, then drain well. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Spoon the rice over the tofu and marinade. Add the milk/saffron and mix well to distribute the yellow colour. Cover dish tightly, and bake 1 hour. Meanwhile, make the onions.

In the reserved 3 tablespoons of oil, fry the onions, cardamom and raisins over very low heat until they begin to soften and colour. This should take about 30 minutes. At the end, turn up the heat to really fry the onions until deeply browned. Remove to a plate covered in absorbent paper (I use paper lunch sacks) . Use this to top the Biryani. Serve with yoghurt,

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