Wild Mushroom Biryani



For the rice:

  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 black cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 10cm cinnamon stick
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 650g basmati rice, well washed, then soaked for 20 minutes
  • Small fistful of shredded mint leaves
  • Small handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • Good pinch of saffron strands, soaked in 3 tbsp hot milk for 30 minutes
  • 250g puff pastry
  • Plain flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg, beaten (optional)

For the mushrooms:

  • 4 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 200g yoghurt (if it is quite sour, use just 180g)
  • 5 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 25g root ginger, peeled weight, grated
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • Salt, to your taste
  • 800g mixed mushrooms, cleaned and sliced or torn into large pieces
  • 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée, or to your taste
  • 60ml double cream, or to your taste


Start with the mushrooms. Blend together the tomatoes and yoghurt until smooth. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the onions and cook until golden on the edges. Add the ginger and garlic and cook gently until the smell of raw garlic has disappeared, around a minute or so. Add the blended tomatoes, all the spices and the salt and give the pan a stir. Cook this mixture down until it becomes a thick paste and releases oil back into the pan, then continue cooking for another couple of minutes to darken this paste.

Stir in the mushrooms and cook for four to five minutes, or until they release their water (cover the pan after two minutes, but keep giving it a stir). Add 150ml of water and bring to a boil, then simmer for seven to eight minutes or until the whole thing comes together. Add the tomato purée and the cream. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more cream or tomato purée to balance the sourness in the tomatoes and yoghurt. The sauce should be like thick cream. Take off the heat.

For the rice, heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the whole spices and cook for 30 seconds. Add the rice and stir well to mix. Add 1 litre of boiling water and season generously to taste. Bring to a boil, then cover and cook on a really low heat until the rice is just done, around seven to nine minutes (check after seven). Take off the heat.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. Find a suitable dish that is both ovenproof and table ready. Layer half the rice in the dish, then spoon all the mushrooms and sauce evenly over it. Sprinkle over the herbs and finish with the remaining rice. Drizzle over the saffron milk. Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface and place over the dish, sealing the edges. Brush with the egg, if using. Make a couple of slits in the centre of the pastry and place the dish in the middle of the oven.


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