This is a lovely biryani with its origins in the Middle East. I had never eaten it nor heard of it when I lived in India. But then, the food in India is so diverse that even though I lived there for a considerable amount of time, I am positive I never savored all the culinary experiences that India has to offer. Thanks to the internet and having to cater to vegetarian relatives/friends, I came across this recipe online. I tried it, and have been hooked since.

This dish offers you the satisfaction of eating rice but also slips in some protein that can offset the carbohydrates in rice. The protein comes from channa daal or yellow split peas. 1/4 cup of yellow split peas provides about 13g of protein.

This recipe involves a few stages but is well worth the time and effort. The channa daal is cooked separately with a whole array of spices. Rice is about 95% cooked in a separate pan like you might cook pasta and drained. The channa daal mixture and rice mixture are then layered alternating with a layer of fresh mint leaves, fresh coriander leaves and sweet caramelized onions. A bit of fresh ghee drizzled over heightens the experience. The entire dish is then left in a slow oven to let everything steam together. The aromas that rise from making this dish are guaranteed to make your kitchen a magnet for hungry people. Make enough for leftovers, and be more blissful.

1/2 cup channa daal
1 cup basmati rice
2 cardamoms
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
2 medium white onions, sliced
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1/2 cup greek yogurt or whole milk yogurt
1/2 tsp black cumin or shah jeera
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 roma tomato, finely diced
1/2 cup packed roughly chopped fresh mint leaves, for garnish
1/2 cup packed roughly chopped fresh coriander leaves for garnish
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped into big bits
3-4 tbsps vegetable oil
salt to taste
ghee or melted butter, for drizzling 

Rinse basmati rice and combine with 2 cardamoms, 2 cloves, cinnamon stick, 1 bay leaf and about a 1 tsp of salt in a pan. Add 5 cups of water and let it cook like you would cook pasta, no need to cover. When the rice is very close to done, save some of the water and drain rest and set aside. Keep the whole spices in the rice. 

In another pan, rinse and place the channa daal with 2 cups of water. Let cook uncovered until the channa daal is soft but not mushy. Set aside.

In a non stick pan, add 2 tbsps of the vegetable oil and slowly caramelize sliced onions on low heat until they are soft and golden. Transfer onions to a bowl and set aside. Return the pan to heat on a low flame, add 1-2 tbsps of vegetable oil and add the ginger garlic paste, black cumin to the pan. Saute lightly and add the yogurt to it, along with all the powdered spices. Add the channa daal and tomatoes to the yogurt mixture, along with any cooking liquid. Add salt to taste and cook the channa daal and yogurt until the sauce thickens and tomatoes are mushy. Remove from heat.

To assemble the dish, take a deep oven proof dish. Spread the bottom of the pan with some ghee. Assemble the channa daal and rice in alternate layers in the pan, and add a sprinkling of onions, and jalapeño bits between layers. Lightly press the top when you are done layering and cover with mint and cilantro. Drizzle some more ghee or melted butter over the top. Drizzle some of the liquid from draining the rice as well. Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Place in a preheated 300 degree F oven for about 20-25 minutes and let steam gently.  

Let rest for about 10 minutes before you invert the contents of the dish onto a platter. Enjoy with cucumber raita.