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Al biryani

October 24, 2007

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Serves 8

Huda Ahmed's al biryani is vegetarian because she prefers it this way. You can use this recipe and add 1 pound cooked boneless chicken breasts or lamb at the end.

VEGETABLES

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 carrots, thickly sliced
1 large baking potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes and soaked in water for 10 minutes
1/2 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup dark raisins

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add the carrots and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add to the onions.

3. Drain the potatoes and pat them dry. In the same skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the potatoes to the oil. Cook, turning often, for 6 minutes or until they brown. Add to the onion mixture.

4. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the skillet. Cook the pine nuts and raisins for 1 minute, or until the nuts begin to brown. Add to the onion mixture.

RICE

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
5 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups white basmati rice
1cup (2 1/2 ounces) vermicelli or angel hair pasta (4 to 5 nests)
1 cup frozen peas, cooked in boiling water for 1 minute

1. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, cardamom, saffron, cloves, and ginger.

2. In a large flameproof casserole, bring the water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil with the rice and the spice mixture. Lower heat to medium-low. Set the lid on askew. Cook for 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl with your hands, break up the angel hair into small pieces.

4. Heat a medium skillet. When it is hot, add the pasta pieces. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the skillet and cook the pasta over medium heat for 2 minutes or until the pasta turns a toasty brown.

5. Add the pasta mixture to the rice. There should still be liquid in the pot. Stir in the peas. Toss the mixture gently. Cover the pan and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes or until the rice and vegetables are tender.

6. Turn off the heat and let the pot sit, tightly covered, for 10 minutes.

Adapted from Huda Ahmed