Making One-Pot Chickpea Biryani from Thug Kitchen 101

Thug Kitchen 101 has a bunch of awesome-sounding recipes that require vegetable stock or ‘broth’ as the Americans seem to call it. So, after making the last couple of recipes I’d amassed enough vegetable scraps to be able to make stock (the supermarket stuff is salty as) and consequently a recipe that required it.

So I thought I’d try ‘One-Pot Chickpea Biryani’ from page 95.

First up, the vegetable stock. I started making this a while ago but had stopped when I moved to simpler meals. But if you’re cooking stuff from scratch a few times a week you’ll probably find you’ve easily got enough vegetable scraps to make a litre or so, which should be good for one or two recipes. Which you might as well do really, because besides being way too salty the supermarket-bought ‘Real’ stock is about $4.50 for a litre, which is expensive considering. It also makes me feel good about food waste and all that.

I know this sounds like something your Grandmother did (because it probably was), but it’s actually kinda fun. All you do is save up your scraps, like carrot or potato peels, ends off onions or mushrooms or garlic, stems from kale, or any other vegetable-related stuff you don’t want to use in your cooking. I just save it in the fridge in one of those little plastic bags you put your veggies in at the supermarket. Once there’s about 5 cups worth or more chuck it in a big pot with a couple of bayleaves, cover that all with water and simmer for an hour or so. Drain out the scraps and keep the murky-looking water. That simple. It’ll stay good for a week or so in the fridge or you can freeze it for goodness knows how long. Or if you’re like me and doing it all last-minute then you use it right away to make biryani.

So back to the biryani. Conversion-wise the recipe just asks for some coconut oil to sauté the onion, cauliflower, green beans, and cauliflower up in. Easily removed, seemingly. I also substituted walnuts for the 1/4 cup cashews or almonds, because I actually had walnuts. And standard raisins for ‘golden’ raisins, because this is New Zealand. I was also proud of myself for using actual fresh ginger like the recipe asked for rather than trying to get by with powdered ginger. It seemed like it would probably make a subtle but important difference to the flavours.

So far so good. The recipe calls for basmati rice, and so of course I chose to use brown basmati rice. Anyhow, it’s called ‘One-Pot’ because you just use the one pot for everything. Which sounds really useful and efficient but in the end I didn’t feel like it was so much. First you sautéd up the onions, then took those out of the pot and set aside, then the rest of the veggies were sautéd with the chickpeas and spices added in, then those were taken out, then you make the rice up in that same pot with the veggie stock and some other fancy spice tricks. Once that’s done you fold the veggies and chickpeas, onions, nuts and raisins into the rice and serve.

It definitely looked really good. But the taste and flavours were just a bit bland considering the prep and cook time. Possibly as a result of the substitutions I made. My flatmate, who happens to be from India (so he should know), says that he’s not had a biryani with brown rice before and didn’t really feel like that worked. So maybe my bad for substituting that. I found the brown rice didn’t cook particularly well in the pot either and needed a bit of fluid added so that may have blanded things out a bit too.

Think if I made it again, I’d probably have a go with white rice to see whether that was the issue. If it tasted amaze then no worries, but otherwise it’s likely something to do with the spices etc. and increasing those could save things. I definitely feel like this recipe has potential to be great. Also, I’d probably forget the ‘One-Pot’ philosophy and cook up the rice at the same time as I was doing everything else in another pot to save time. Since I have a rice cooker I’d do it that way, no problems putting all the spices in the rice cooker along with the vegetable stock.

So all things considered I’d give this recipe a 5/10. I wouldn’t bother with it unless you’re confident you can make some better decisions on spices etc. than I can to improve it on the fly, especially given the long cook time and the awesome quality of the other recipes in the book so far!

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