Vegan Biryani with Okra & Soya Chunks (Textured Vegetable Protein) | Mauritian Recipe

Hi friends, this is Teenuja from the Veganlovlie
channel. Today’s recipe is actually a request from one of our subscribers, Tena Fowler,
who wanted a recipe combining okra with rice. So, I thought of doing a briyani dish. So
“briyani” is actually the way we say biryani in Mauritius and it’s a very popular dish
that is liked by almost everyone I know. In fact, this dish originates from India and
we have our own version of it in Mauritius. So, the Mauritian briyani is different in
terms of spices but even in Mauritius, everyone has a slightly different way of preparing
it. So, what I am going to show you today is a simplified and adapted version that will
make it easier for you to try at home. So, let’s get started. I am using soya chunks, also known as TVP
or Textured Vegetable Protein in this recipe. To rehydrate them, cover them with some water
and bring to a gentle boil. Then cover and continue to boil for about 3 minutes or until
the chunks are soft in the centre. The gentle boiling not only rehydrates and removes the
raw beany taste but it also improves the texture, something that soaking alone does not do. What makes a briyani particularly exceptional
is the rice so, use the best quality basmati rice that you can find. Rinse the rice a couple
of times in cold water until the water runs almost clear. Then add 2 cups of water. This
won’t be enough to completely cook the rice, so it will only be half-cooked which what
we want to achieve at this stage. Add 4 – 5 cardamom pods and one cinnamon stick. Then
place the saucepan on medium heat and bring to a boil. Once water starts to boil, allow
it to continue boiling for about one minute then, turn off the heat and cover the pan.
Leave aside as the rice absorbs all the water. Meanwhile you can prepare the vegetables.
The preferred way to cut the carrots for the Mauritian briyani is into julienne but you
can cut it in any way that you like. Try not to cut them into too small pieces
or they might become too soft when cooked. For the okra, discard the top part and cut
them into 5-cm or 2-inches in length. Chillies add a lot of flavour but if you cannot
tolerate too much heat, then leave them whole or deseed them or just use a mild one. Briyani, in Mauritius, is really quite synonymous
with celebration. Traditionally this dish is served at many special occasions and gatherings
— weddings, engagements, religious ceremonies, having guests at home, the new year celebrations,
office parties or even just for a picnic at the beach.
Yes, you would think that a picnic at the beach would call for light and easy meals,
but for many families, spending a day at the seaside would also mean meeting relatives
that they might not have seen for a while. So, a big pot of briyani placed on a camp
fire, was the highlight of the day. Those were the fascinating days of my childhood
and teenage years. Typically, yoghurt is used as the gravy base
in this dish however, my version here calls for coconut milk and tamarind paste instead.
To remove the seeds from the tamarind paste, soak it in a little warm water and smoosh
the pulp between your fingers. Then just scoop out the seeds and fibres with your fingers
and squeeze them in your hand to drain out all the liquid.
I actually have a more explicit video on how to do this if you want to check it out by
clicking on the info icon at the top right. One of the characteristics of the Mauritian
briyani is the addition of fried potatoes. White or red potatoes are a good choice. So,
peel and cut them into 5-cm or 2-inch cubes. Then add one tablespoon of turmeric powder,
toss to mix until potatoes are well coated. To cook the briyani, choose a deep thick bottom
pot which has a lid that seals properly. Now let’s start by frying the potatoes. Heat
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium-high temperature and add in the potatoes. Stir,
mix and let cook while stirring every now and then until potatoes are cooked up to 75%
with a crispy coating. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, still on medium-high temperature,
heat another tablespoon of oil. Add in the pre-boiled soya chunks followed by 1/2 teaspoon
of ground cumin and one tablespoon of soy sauce. Fry the soya while stirring occasionally.
Some people find soya chunks too chewy for their liking but very often it comes down
to how these are being prepared. Pre-boiling the soya chunks improves their texture and
then frying, with just a little oil at a relatively high temperature, firms up the texture and
adds a slightly crispy coating that dissipates much of the chewiness. So, once they have
that crispy coating, remove them from the pan and set aside. Now let’s start making the gravy. Heat one
tablespoon of coconut or vegetable oil on medium-high temperature then add one tablespoon
of mixed ginger and garlic paste. Let it sizzle for about 30 seconds then add in half of the
onions. Let this sweat for about 2 minutes, then add the cumin powder followed by the
garam masala and the coriander seed powder. Let the spices roast for about 5 seconds then
add in the coconut milk and the diluted tamarind paste. By the way, if you don’t have tamarind,
you can substitute it with one tablespoon of lemon juice. Next add the cinnamon stick.
Stir and let the gravy thicken. This may take about 10 minutes depending on how thick the
coconut milk is. Once the gravy is almost paste-like, add half of the chopped coriander
and half of the mint. Mix and add just a little water if the gravy is too thick. The mixture
should not be too soupy though but rather thick.
Add the chillies and, at this stage turn off the heat, before adding in the fried potatoes
and soya. Mix well with the spice gravy then add in the raw okra and carrots. I prefer not pre-cook these as otherwise they
will become too soft. So, once everything is well mixed, we will proceed to layering
the rice. So, remove half of the vegetable mixture from the pot and set aside in a bowl.
Spread the remaining vegetables evenly in the pot. Add a little salt, you can add more
salt later, as per your taste, in between each layer of rice and vegetables. Fluff the half-cooked rice to separate the
grains. Then layer half of the rice on the vegetables in the pot. Spread the rice evenly
to cover the vegetables. Add a layer of the remaining herbs,
the coriander and the mint. Then top with a layer of the remaining vegetables. You can add a little salt at this stage and
spread evenly. Before adding in the final layer of rice,
add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to the rice and mix it thoroughly so that the grains are
coated. They don’t need to be evenly coated, in fact, it is good to have grains of various
tints of orange and yellow. Now add the rice in the pot and spread evenly to cover the
vegetables. Top with the green peas and add 3/4 cup of
water poured evenly around. Cover and start cooking on medium heat. As soon as some steam
starts to form, lower the heat and cook for about 12 minutes only as most of the ingredients
are already pre-cooked. While the briyani is cooking, you can fry
the onions for a final touch to this dish. In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on
medium-high temperature and add in the onions. Fry while stirring occasionally until the
onions are brown and caramelised. After you’ve turned off the heat for the
briyani, add the fried onions on top of the rice. Then cover and let it stand for another
10 minutes before serving. Serve with a refreshing cucumber salad and assorted Indian pickles. While a briyani dish may look a little intimidating
to make, it is neither more difficult nor time consuming than a curry. It is the blend
of spices and herbs that make the difference and the rest is basically just layering the
rice to cook everything in one pot. So, we hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe and
by the way, you can get the recipe in text format on our website at,
the link is in the description below the video. If you do try this recipe, don’t forget
to send us a picture on our social media. Bon appetit and see you soon for another recipe.