As the clock edged to midnight on the 15 August 1947, Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru-the first Prime Minister of India – delivered the renowned speech that announced the Independence of Bharat (India), this announcement signified “Freedom – Freedom from 3 centuries of British Rule”. Bharats (India) struggles paid off – Bharat belonged to its people and no longer remained the summer retreat of the British Sahibs
Every year the 15 August is celebrated as India’s Independence Day-it is a national festival which is celebrated with great passion by young and old all over the country. Today 13 August 2013 will be no different from the previous 65 odd years, The Prime Minister of India will hoist the National Flag over the Red Fort In Delhi, he will address the crowds gathered around the fort and this address will be broadcast live on almost all radio and television stations throughout the country and worldwide, the national anthem will be sung, a guard of honour will be presented by the armed forces and all the pomp and ceremony that go with celebrating Independence Day will be carried out.
Functions of this nature are held in most state capitals. Educators in schools and colleges throughout the country reiterate the importance of Independence and remind the children and youth of the country of the great sacrifices and hardships made by amazing leaders led by Mahatma Gandhi, to win Freedom for Bharat. They are also taught/advised on taking an oath to protect their Freedom with all that they have.
Celebrating their victory in the inaugral ICC T20 World Cup during 2007 held in South Africa, the Indian Cricket team raised their flag with pride and then again in the 2011 when they were crowned ICC World Cup Champions in Mumbai, they celebrated their victory with their national flag.
India – a country of an amazing variety of people and hence an even more amazing variety of food, and therefore there is no one dish that can be called “national dish”, however the Biryani is by far the most popular dish, and in celebration of India’s Independence day I am going to share my recipe for Vegetable Biryani.
Biryani – is a rice-based dish made with spices, basmati rice and vegetables (you do get the non-vegetarian biryanis as well). Like many Indian dishes-it is believed that ‘Biryani’ was invented in kitchens of the Mughal Emperors – this seems very likely when you look at the list of spices and condiments needed for a traditional rich ‘Biryani’ – ghee, saffron, nutmeg, mace, pepper, fennel, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint, ginger, garlic and onions.
Traditional Biryani will be prepared by cooking the rice and vegetables separately, and then the two being brought together by alternately layering the rice and the vegetable curry – resulting in a “One Dish Meal” of amazingly contrasting flavours. The final result is a Biryani that is quite a dry rice dish with the rice grains being loose and fluffy compared to its Italian counterpart the ‘Risotto’ which has a sticky creamy consistency.
In celebration India’s Independence Day, I am sharing my recipe for a very healthy version of the traditional ‘Vegetable Biryani’, I serve it with ‘Kachoomer’, but it can be served with a ‘Raita’
45ml cooking oil
8-10 curry leaves
1 dry chilli
2ml crushed cumin seeds
2ml crushed fennel seeds
2ml crushed coriander seeds
10ml ground ginger & garlic
10ml chilli powder
5ml cumin powder
5ml coriander powder
7ml turmeric powder
10ml Biryani Spice Mix
125ml brown lentils
750ml frozen mix vegetables
8-10 baby potatoes
45ml chopped fresh coriander
10ml chopped mint
- Soak rice and lentils separately in warm water for about 1hour
- Heat oil in a large heavy based pot and add onions and allow to brown on medium heat
- Add all other spices and allow to cook for about 1-2 minutes
- Add the washed rice and lentils, mix vegetables and the potatoes, and about 500ml water
- Lower heat and allow to cook for about 45minutes (add more water if necessary) or until the potatoes are tender and the rice is cooked
- Sprinkle chopped coriander and mint before serving and serve with plain yoghurt or raita and a mixed salad
250ml grated carrots
250ml finely shredded lettuce
100ml chopped mixed peppers
100ml chopped tomatoes
75ml chopped cucumber
75ml grated radish
2ml finely chopped green chilli
75ml chopped onion
15ml shredded mint leaves
- Mix all of the above together and serve with vegetable biryani