Vegetable Biryani

Serves 6


1 cup cauliflower florets 
1 cup broccoli florets 
1 small sweet potato, peeled and cut into thin half rounds 
2 medium carrots, preferably white or pale yellow, peeled and cut into thin half rounds 
5 tablespoons clarified butter — Kosher salt 
1 teaspoon white mustard seeds 
1 large onion, peeled, trimmed and grated on the large blade of a box grater 
3 garlic cloves, minced 
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 
1 teaspoon turmeric and cardamom as well as 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne or other ground hot chile, to taste 
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed — Black pepper in a mill 
1 14-ounce can coconut milk, to taste 

3½ cups cooked basmati rice, cooled 
½ cup raisins 
¼ cup diced dried apricots 
½ cup roasted and salted cashews 
4 tablespoons fresh mint, very thinly sliced 
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced

Several saffron threads 
½ cup vegetable stock, low sodium or preferably homemade, heated
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt or raita (see Note below) — Homemade or commercial chutney of choice 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Put the cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato and carrots into an oven proof pan, drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter, toss, season with salt and set in the oven. Roast until the vegetables are just tender when pierced with a fork, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, put the remaining clarified butter into a heavy skillet set over medium heat, add the mustard seeds to the skillet, cook 2 minutes, add the onion, reduce the heat and cook until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2 minutes more. Season lightly with salt, stir in the ginger, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, cardamom and several generous turns of black pepper. Stir in the coconut milk, cover the pan and simmer 15 minutes, until the coconut milk has thickened. Fold in the roasted vegetables. If the coconut milk has not thickened, simmer uncovered over high heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Put the rice in a large bowl and use a fork to fluff it. Add the raisins, dried apricots and cashews and toss gently but thoroughly. Add half the mint and half the cilantro leaves and toss again. Put saffron into a small bowl and pour the stock over it; set aside briefly. Spread rice over bottom of a baking dish, spoon the vegetables on top and drizzle stock over everything. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake until it is sizzling hot, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest, covered, for about 10 minutes. To serve, divide among individual plates and garnish with remaining mint and cilantro. Serve immediately, with yogurt and chutney alongside.