Pumpkin Biryani

If you’re having a dinner party this Hallowe’en, here’s an idea for making a tasty themed feast.  

First of all, you need to grab yourself a pumpkin….

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If you’re wondering what size, i’d say roughly the size of your head!

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I used the BBC good food recipe as a guide but tweaked it ever so slightly. To make enough to feed about 5 people, you will need:

– 250 g onions, thinly sliced

– 100g butter

– 4 cloves of garlic, sliced

– 50g ginger, roughly chopped

– 1/4 tsp chilli powder

– 1/2 tsp ground cardamom seeds

– 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

– 2 cinnamon sticks

– 1/2 tsp clove

– 3 bay leaves

– 2 tsp garam masala

– 1 green chilli, deseeded and finely slices

– Juice of 1 lime

– 1 large (3kg) pumpkin

– 100 ml greek yoghurt

– 225g basmati rice

– Large handful coriander

– A pinch of saffron

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Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.  Heat 75g of the butter in a pan, and lightly fry the onions until they are soft for about 10-15 minutes.  In a blender, blitz up the garlic and ginger with a tablespoon of water until it forms a paste.  Add this to the pan of onions and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.  

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Lastly, add in the green chilli, spices and lime juice.  Stir it all in. 

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Now that the spice mix is prepared, it’s time to carve out the pumpkin!  Cut the lid off and get rid of the seeds to leave a hollowed out pumpkin.

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Scoop the onion spice mix into the empty pumpkin…

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Pop the lid back on…

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Cover it in foil to make sure the pumpkin doesn’t go brown, and pop it in the over for 1 hr 15 minutes.  When this has gone in the oven, pop the saffron in a cup with a few tablespoons of boiling water.  Leave to one side. 

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When the timer is up, lift the pumpkin out of the over, lift off the lid and scoop out the onion mixture into a frying pan.  Carefully scrape out the now softened flesh of the pumpkin, and stir it in with the onions.  Scrape as much pumpkin out of its shell without breaking the wall of the pumpkin or leaving the sides too thin.  It needs to be able to hold the weight of the filling! 

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Stir in the greek yogurt with the onion and pumpkin in the pan, heating it all through.  Lift out the cinnamon sticks and bay leaves and discard.  In a separate pan, boil the rice for about 6-8 minutes until it is almost cooked but still firm.  Drain and set to one side.

Now it’s time to layer up the pumpkin!  Start with a layer of rice on the base, and then a layer of pumpkin and a sprinkle of corriander, and so on until you reach the top. The top layer must be a layer of rice.  On this final layer, pour over the saffron water mix, and dot across the remaining butter.  Pop the lid back on.

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Cover the pumpkin in a sheet of damp baking paper, and wrap with tin foil.  Pour some water in the bottom of the pan until it is about 1cm deep.  This will create some steam in the oven.  Place in the oven for another hour, allowing the rice to become fluffy and fragrant with all of the spices.  When it’s ready to serve, lift the lid off, fluff up the rice and sprinkle over some more corriander.

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Place in the middle of the table with a giant spoon and get everyone to tuck in! 

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It’s such a great sharing dish, and makes a great spooky centrepiece for a dinner party!  It takes a little while to put together but most of the time is in the oven, and not a lot of preparation so it’s something that you can prepare beforehand and lift out when your guests are ready to eat.  If you’re hosting this Saturday, give it a go! 

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