Pick and rinse basmati rice in running water till the water runs clear of starch. Then, soak the basmati rice in water for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, drain the water and keep the rice aside. In a pot boil 5 cups water and then add the soaked rice.
Cook the rice till they are ¾ᵗʰ cooked or 75% cooked. Then, drain the rice in a colander. Sprinkle a pinch of saffron strands all over the rice.
Keep the rice covered so that the grains don't dry out.
Preparing veg gravy
Chop cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, mint leaves and coriander leaves. Also, soak 2 pinches of saffron strands in ⅔rd cup warm water, warm milk or warm yogurt.
Heat ghee or oil in a pan or pressure cooker.
Add the whole spices - caraway seeds, cinnamon sticks, black cardamom, green cardamoms, cloves and mace.
Fry till the spices splutter and become fragrant.
Now, add the chopped vegetables - cauliflower, carrots, potatoes and green peas. Sauté the vegetables for 1 to 2 minutes.
Then, add the spice powders - fennel powder, dried ginger powder, red chili powder, garam masala powder or Kashmiri Ver Masala, asafoetida and grated nutmeg. Sauté for 2 minutes. Keep on stirring.
Put the heat on low, add the beaten yogurt and stir well.
Add water and salt as required. Mix well.
Cover the pan with its lid and cook on medium-low heat till the vegetables are tender. If there is too much water in the gravy, then simmer till some water dries up. The gravy should be of medium or slightly thick consistency and should not be runny or watery.
If using pressure cooker, then pressure cook for 1 to 2 whistles till the vegetables are tender. Don’t over cook the veggies.
Assembling Kashmiri Biryani
In a heavy thick bottomed pan, layer half of the vegetable gravy first.
Next, layer half of the cooked rice.
Sprinkle some of the chopped mint and coriander leaves.
Also, sprinkle some of the saffron which was dissolved in warm milk, warm water or warm yogurt.
Now, layer with the rest of vegetable gravy.
Next, layer with the remaining cooked rice.
Sprinkle the mint, coriander and saffron milk again.
Cooking Kashmiri Biryani
Then, cover the pan or pot with a tight fitting lid.
Take a tawa or skillet and put it on medium heat. You can begin to preheat the tawa when you begin to assemble and layer the biryani.
When the tava becomes hot, then lower the heat. Keep the sealed biryani pot on the tava. Keep the heat to the lowest and dum-cook biryani for 25 to 30 minutes.
Alternatively, you can also dum-cook the biryani for the first 15 minutes on direct low heat and then for the last 10 minutes, place the pot on the hot tava and cook on low heat.
After 25 to 30 minutes, switch off the heat. Give a standing time of 5 to 7 minutes and then check the biryani. If there is still some liquid at the bottom, then the biryani needs to be dum-cooked for some more time. Cook till all the liquids is absorbed.
When the Kashmiri Biryani is getting dum-cooked, you can roast the cashewnuts or fry them in some oil or ghee. Alternatively, you can also roast a mix of cashewnuts, raisins and almonds or fry them in some oil.
While serving, garnish with the roasted or fried cashewnuts, almonds and raisins along with some mint leaves.
Serve the Kashmiri Biryani hot with a raita by the side.
Method to make Kashmiri Biryani in the oven
Preheat the oven at 180 degrees C/356 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes.
While the oven is getting preheated, assemble the biryani in an ovenproof utensil as mentioned above. Remember to use oven proof glass utensils like Pyrex bowl or oven safe steel pan for baking in the oven.
Cover the bowl or pan with aluminium foil or the Pyrex bowl lid and then bake the biryani for 25 to 30 minutes. However, the baking time will vary from oven to oven.
When done, give a rest time of 5 to 7 minutes.
Then, check the Kashmiri Biryani. If there is still some liquid at the bottom, then the biryani needs to be baked for some more time till all the liquids are absorbed.