Over the weekend we made two dishes that turned out so well, that we wanted to share them as part of our contribution to the Meat free Monday selections. The idea was not really to serve them together, although I suppose you could, but to allow for two new meal ideas. The biryani can be used as a main course meal with a salad, and the potatoes could turn into a side dish for another meal. The possibilities are endless.
Before posting the recipes, it quickly became obvious that they both share some of the same ingredients – coriander greens and seeds. This sparked the idea for researching their history. Where do they come from, and what do they bring to the food, outside of wonderful flavor? Wikipedia is a fantastic source, and here are some of the interesting facts we discovered. Here is a great link to check out
Coriander is also known as Chinese parsley, and more commonly, Cilantro. The name Coriander comes from the Latin “coriandrum“, which in turn is orginally derived from the Greek word koriadnon thought by many to originally stem from the name of Minos’ daughter Ariadne in Greek Mythology. The plant is traditionally native to Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and Northern Africa, but is now often grown in gardens in many warm regions thoughout the world.
The entire plant is edible, leaves, seeds, and roots, but most common in cooking are the leafy greens and dried seeds, found in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, Asian, Mexican, Chinese, Latin American, and African cooking. Coriander leaves have a slightly citrus like taste, milder than that of the seeds, and are often times used raw, or as a garnish.
Coriander seeds, which are actually the dried fruit of the plant, have a lemony citrus taste when they are crushed, and add great flavor to food. One of the main ingredients in the Indian spice garam masala, coriander seeds actually act as a thickener for sauces and curries. In Western Europe and the U.S., coriander seeds are usually used for making sausages and pickling vegetables
Already familiar with spicy masala potatoes from a favorite local restaurant, we were excited to try a recipe for potatoes found on this beautiful blog. Not being able to find Harissa in any of our local stores, we substituted cayenne pepper instead.
We used the following ingredients:
Roasted Spiced Potatoes:
- 2 small sweet potatoes, and 8 small multi-colored potatoes (purple, red, and yellow)
- 1 tsp. sweet paprika
- 1 tsp. ground cumin seed
- 3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced finely
- 1/8 cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp. Himalaya salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Wash and peel the potatoes and cut them into thin strips, like french fries. In a bowl, combine the olive oil, Himalaya salt, black pepper, ground cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper, and mix well. Add the potatoes and toss gently, making sure that they become well coated with the oil and spice mixture.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Place the potatoes on a baking sheet in a single layer, and bake until golden and crisp, turning them over half way through, or after about 20 minutes. Bake the potatoes for a total of 35-40 minutes, or until crispy on both sides.
Mix the parsley, cilantro, garlic, and lemon juice in a bowl. Remove the potatoes from the oven and toss with this herb mixture.
The result is a wonderful spicy, savory, treat.
Before sharing our main recipe, Gluten Free Vegetable Biryani, here is a little info about rice.
Unlike most traditional biryani recipes, which call for white basmati rice, we chose to use brown rice, both for its nutritional content, as well as the flavor. Brown rice has a very mild, almost nutty flavor, and a slightly more chewy texture than white rice of any variety, because it still contains the germ and the bran. Because of this, it is also higher in B vitamins, iron, and magnesium.
To produce the rice most commonly found in stores, it is first milled to remove the tough outer shell, called the chaff. The photo above shows the whole rice as it grows on the plant before milling. The picture below shows the rice after the first stage of milling, with the inner layers still remaining.
At this point, the grain is known as “brown rice”. Many varieties of rice can be called “brown rice” if they still contain the germ and the bran, that is why there are so many types available, from short grain brown rice, to brown basmati, etc. The illustration below, depicts a traditional rice mill in Japan.
“White rice” has gone through a further milling process to remove the rest of the husk, the bran, and the germ, giving it its distinctive light color. Although it is generally no longer used in the U.S., in many places, white rice is buffed with talc, or glucose syrup 😦 to create a “polished rice.”
Rice, both white and brown, can be ground into flour, which is used in gluten free pastas, flour blends, and baked goods. If you are interested in finding out more about the many varieties of rice, click here
For the Vegetable Biryani, you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 cups Basmati rice
- 1/2 tsp. Himalaya salt
- 2 tsp. coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 cardamom pods, crushed, or, 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp. chili powder
- 3 whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
- 1 bell pepper
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- approx. 1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut in half
- 1 organic roma tomato, cored and chopped
- approx. 1/2 cup snow peas, trimmed
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- Himalaya salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Prepare the rice ahead of time, by adding 4 cups of water and 1/2 tsp. of salt to 2 cups of rice. Bring to a boil, stir and then turn down the heat and continue to cook over medium heat until tender. Set aside.
In a frying pan, heat the oil, add the onion and cook on low heat until golden brown. Add the spices, garlic and ginger, and continue to cook on low heat for about 1 min.
Add the veggies and about 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook, turning the heat up to medium, for about 15 minutes until the veggies are tender, but slightly crisp.
Add the rice, raisins, salt and pepper to taste, and about 3/4 cup hot water. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, and cook covered for an additional 6-8 minutes.
Serve with yoghurt, gluten free chapatis, or rice tortilla.