Casseroles Around the World: Indian Biryani

Casseroles aren't usually a dish we associate with Indian cuisine, but what else would you call one-pot meal of rice, fragrant curry, vegetables, and meat? Biryani is Indian comfort food to the extreme, and it's a great dish to make on a lazy weekend afternoon. Do you have a favorite way to make it?

What makes a biryani so good is the way everything gets layered together in the dish. Cooked basmati rice goes in first and gets drizzled with a little curry sauce. Then comes the main attraction. This is usually cooked chicken, but could just as easily be lamb, lentils, or vegetables. This is layered on top of the rice and gets topped with more rice.

Covered and baked until warm, the dish comes out fully infused with flavor. Warm, comforting, and so satisfying that we often eat it straight from the baking dish by the spoonful.

Biryani often gets a tough rap for being difficult or labor-intensive to prepare. It's true that each of the components - the rice, the curry, and the meat - have to be prepared separately ahead of time. But we really see this as a leftovers dish. If we're making curry and rice already, why not make a little extra and turn the leftovers into this casserole?

Either way, biryani makes a great change from our usual cheese and pasta casseroles!

Take a look at these recipes:

Chicken Biryani from Rasa Malaysia
Pakistani Lamb Biryani from Saveur Magazine
Vegetable Biryani from My Diverse Kitchen

What's your favorite version?

Related: How to Cook Rice on the Stove

(Images: Todd Coleman/Saveur, Flickr member jennn licensed under Creative Commons)

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