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    Pumpkin biryani

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    Pumpkin biryani

    By Ravneet Gill

    • Preparation time: 25 minutes
    • Cooking time: 1 hour
    • Total time: 1 hour 25 minutes

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients

    300g easy cook basmati rice
    1 cinnamon stick
    2 cloves
    1 bay leaf
    4 cardamom pods, bashed
    3 tbsp milk
    Small pinch saffron, crushed
    3 tbsp ghee
    3 red onions, thinly sliced
    1 tsp crushed garlic
    1 tsp finely grated fresh root ginger
    1 green chilli, finely chopped
    2 tbsp Madras curry powder
    1 tbsp garam masala
    1 tbsp ground cumin
    1 large plum tomato, roughly chopped
    250g delica pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2.5cm chunks
    10g coriander leaves, chopped
    10g mint leaves, chopped

    Method

    1. Wash the rice under running water at least 6 times or until the water is running clear. Fill a medium saucepan with water and add a pinch of salt, the cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaf and cardamom pods; bring to a rolling boil. Add the rice and cook for 7 minutes, until tender but still with bite. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the whole spices, then strain the rice through a sieve (reserving 80ml of the cooking water) and set aside. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until bubbles start to appear, then add the saffron. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for at least 15 minutes.


    2. Meanwhile, heat a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add 1½ tbsp ghee and the onions; cook until golden and caramelised (about 10 minutes). Transfer ½ the onions to a bowl and set aside. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Add the curry powder, garam masala and ground cumin; cook for 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomato and cook for 1 minute. Add the squash, 150ml water and a pinch of salt. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes until the squash is tender. Season with salt if needed.


    3. Add the reserved 80ml rice water to the squash curry. Spoon ¹⁄³ of the rice on top in an even layer. Drizzle with 1 tsp ghee, 1 tsp of the saffron-infused milk and scatter with ½ the coriander and mint. Repeat with a second layer. Add the remaining rice, then top with the remaining ghee and saffron milk. Scatter over the reserved onions. Cover with a clean tea towel and a lid. Cook over a low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave with the lid on for a further 10 minutes. Carefully stir up from the bottom of the pan to mix the squash and rice together. You can serve this with thick yogurt or raita.

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