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Biryani is a celebratory dish of rice and curry, often featuring meat. Luckily, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's vegetarian version in River Cottage Veg doesn't suffer from its absence. His base is a richly spiced stew of potatoes, peas, and carrots, fragrant with cardamom, ginger, cumin, cinnamon, and coriander. A fluffy layer of saffron basmati rice tops the curry and manages to retain its own character, even after a second round of cooking. The final touches of caramelized onions, toasted almonds, and chopped cilantro add enough vibrancy to the dish that it's easy to forget that it's meatless.
Why I picked this recipe: Frankly, most biryani recipes I've tried haven't worked very well, so I wanted to see if Fearnley-Whittingstall's version was up to snuff.
What worked: This one went off without a major hitch. The rice stayed fluffy, the curry was distinctly fragrant, and the meal came together with relative ease.
What didn't: Next time I'll start caramelizing the onions earlier (perhaps before starting any other elements) to give them a chance to really cook down. These quickly browned onions were okay, but would've been better with more time on the stove.
Suggested tweaks: You could play with the vegetables in the curry if you'd like. Cauliflower would be a nice addition, as would sweet potatoes.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.