I did not know the difference between pulao and biryani around two years back when I was learning to cook. Then I learned that, in biryani , the rice is cooked seperately and then mixed with the other ingredients and spices. The first biryani , I tried making was with chole/chickpeas, the recipe I adapted ,found here.
Then I tried with the vegetables and came out really good. I followed the same recipe with some changes. Now I make this quite frequently. Its a little time consuming process, but worth all the efforts.It gives a typical restaurant effect. I usually make it on weekends for lunch and serve with plain curds or raitha.
Definitely not a recipe for weight watchers as you have to be quite generous with the ghee , curd, milk etc. I make it less spicy as my son does not like it that way.
Wash the rice. Add about 4 glasses of water. Add little salt and few drops of lemon. Boil the rice. Allow it to cook for sometime, but not completely. It should still be a kind of raw. Drain the water. Add some ghee to the rice and mix gently. The grains should be seperate.
Place the saffron strands in milk and keep it aside.
Fry some onion slices in oil till it is golden brown.
Heat oil/ghee in a pan. Add the whole spices followed by the ginger garlic paste and then the onions(reserve some slices) and keep stirring. Then add the tomatoes and mix well. Add the salt ,turmeric powder,coriander powder and biryani masala ,salt and cook till everything mixes well. Then add the vegetables. Mix and cook it properly. Add the curd and mix well. Switch flame after 4 minutes.
Now for putting it together, it is done in layers.
Rub some ghee in a thick bottomed pan(I use the pressure cooker pan). Arrange a layer of the rice Sprinkle some saffron milk on it.. Then spread a layer of vegetable masala along with some fried onions on it. Then a rice layer again with some saffron milk followed by the gravy and then the fried onions. Arrange another layer of rice. Add a glass of water, cover with a lid . Place this pan on a tava and cook for around 10 minutes till the rice is cooked completely. Switch off the flame.
Then mix everything properly. Serve hot with raitha.
Add a good amount of milk saffron mixture for a nice flavour.
Add ghee to prevent the rice being very dry.
Add some chilly powder to the gravy if you want it spicier.