Rinse the basmati rice for a couple of times in water.
Soak the basmati rice in water for 20 to 30 minutes. Later drain the water and set the soaked rice grains aside.
Sautéing spices, herbs and rice
Heat oil or ghee in a 3 litre pressure cooker.
Add the caraway seeds along with the whole spices and sauté them till fragrant.
Now add the ginger-garlic paste, chopped coriander and mint leaves.
Sauté for a few seconds till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.
Then add the soaked rice and saffron strands. Stir gently.
Now add 1.5 to 1.75 cups water, 5 to 6 drops of lemon juice and salt. Mix well.
Cooking biryani rice
Pressure cook for 1 to 2 whistles or for 6 to 7 minutes. If you have used a 2 litre pressure cooker, it will take more time to cook - about 8 to 10 minutes.
Let the pressure fall naturally in the cooker and then only open the lid.
If cooking in a pan, then cover the pan tightly with a lid. Cook rice till the grains are tender and all the water has been absorbed.
The rice grains should be cooked well and yet remain separate. They should not become soft or mushy.
While cooking in a pan, check in between and if needed stir gently. If you feel the water is less in the pan, then add the required amount of hot water.Cover with a lid again and let the rice grains cook till all the water is absorbed and the rice grains have softened and cooked perfectly.
While the rice is cooking, heat oil in a small frying pan or skillet. Add the sliced onions. Stirring often sauté the onions until they become golden on a low to medium-low heat.
Add a pinch of salt so that the onions brown quickly.
Remove and drain the caramelized onions on kitchen paper so that the extra oil is soaked.
In the same pan, roast or toast the cashews till golden.
While serving, garnish the Biryani Rice with fried onions, cashews, coriander or mint leaves.
You can serve Biryani Rice with raita, any rich vegetarian curry or dal as well.
Ingredient Notes and Swaps
Rice: Biryani rice is always made with basmati rice. Aged basmati rice gives the best taste and texture. Use a good quality and a trustworthy brand of aged basmati rice. With parboiled basmati rice (sella basmati) too, this biryani rice tastes good. Soak parboiled basmati rice for an hour and add some more water as needed when cooking.
Spices: To get the perfect aroma, flavor and taste, I would suggest using all whole spices. However, you can omit star anise and caraway seeds if you do not have these. You can include cumin seeds in place of caraway seeds.
Vegetarian substitutes: Make the dish with ghee instead of oil.
Nuts: Replace cashews with almonds, pistachios, pine nuts or use a combination of these nuts for a rich version.
Saffron: If you do not have saffron strands, for the light yellow color, you can add a generous pinch of turmeric powder. But note that the delicate flavor and aroma of saffron will be missing from the dish. You could add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of rose water or kewra water (pandanus water) for a lovely fragrant aroma.
Water proportion: The quantity of water will vary in relation to the variety and age of rice. For 1 cup of basmati rice, 1.5 to 1.75 cups of water works perfectly when cooking in a pressure cooker and 2 cups for cooking in a pan.
Soaking rice: It always helps to soak rice grains prior to cooking. Soaking not only makes the rice grains fluffier but also reduces the cooking time. You can soak rice grains for 20 to 30 minutes. If short of time, then you may need to add some more water, about 2 to 2.25 cups to the un-soaked rice while cooking in the pressure cooker.
Rinsing rice: For fluffy, separate, non-sticky rice grains, rinse the rice grains thoroughly until the water is clear of starch.
Instant Pot Biryani Rice
To make biryani rice in your instant pot, follow the sautéing instructions of the spices, herbs and rice in the steel insert of your IP using the sauté function.
Add 1.5 cups of water and mix in the salt and lemon juice. Seal with the IP lid with the pressure valve positioned to the sealing position.
Pressure cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. After hearing the beep sound when the pressure cooking is complete, wait for 10 minutes and then do a quick pressure release. When all the pressure is released, remove the lid and fluff the rice. Serve hot with the prepared garnishes.
Cooking in a pan (stove-top)
For making biryani rice in a pan, sauté the spices, herbs and rice in a heavy thick bottomed pan or pot on low to medium-low heat.
Add 2 cups water and mix salt. Cover and simmer on a low to medium-low heat until the rice grains are tender and fluffy.
Keep a check when the rice grains are simmering. If needed, you can add some hot water if the water has dried up or the rice grains are undercooked.