Soak the meal maker in water till soft. Squeeze the water once soft and keep aside.
In a heavy pan, add oil and saute the spices - cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, followed by dry fruit, garlic and onion. Once browned, add the ginger-garlic paste and cook till the raw smell is gone. Add the tomatoes and cook till mashed, followed by the spices, chilli powder, coriander powder, biryani powder, salt and turmeric. Reduce heat completely and add curd. Mix well. Once cooked, add the meal maker and vegetables and cook till half done.
Pre-soak the basmati rice in water for 10-15 mins or follow the instructions mentioned on the cover. Cook the rice with all the condiments as well as the saffron strands soaked in water. Once partly cooked, strain in a colander and keep aside, giving a gentle stir ensuring it is only par boiled. Keep aside.
Gradually incorporate the vegetable masala into the rice, slowly folding it in the rice. Alternatively, you could follow the layering technique used in dum biryani. Place a layer of rice followed by the caramelized onions and garlic. Pour a small portion of the saffron soaked milk. Repeat the process till the rice and vegetables have been completely layered. Cover with a lid, and let the rice and vegetable cook together for an additional 10-15 mins on medium heat. Seal the lid with the dough you use to make rotis. When done, do not break off the dough immediately. Let it rest for 10 mins, then serve garnished with coriander and accompaniments of your choice.
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Anamika Sharma is a passionate foodie, a food blogger with a background in aviation and telecom industry for a good 15 years. Her mission is to spread her love for Indian cooking to all those who think it is too difficult.