Biryani is a South Asian mixed rice dish traditionally served hot, deep and layered in flavors with spices, roasted nuts, dried fruits, or caramelized onions. This one is meant to be a refreshing summer side, starting with cooled basmati rice and an array of dried fruits that puff and crisp in coconut oil. The lentils make it hearty enough for a main dish, if desired, or a great alternative to your usual cookout sides.
Mango & Cashew Summer Biryani
- 1 c uncooked green lentils
- 2 c cooked basmati rice
- 3 c water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large summer squash cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 red onion cut into ½ inch pieces
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 5 tbsp coconut oil divided
- 1 c raw cashews
- ½ c dried mango chopped
- ¼ c dried cherries
- ¼ c dried cranberries
- ⅓ c fresh lemon juice
- 1 c fresh cilantro chopped
- 1 c scallions chopped
- Kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- 1 cup crispy fried onions for garnish (I just got the kind in the bag at the grocery store, where the salad toppings are)
Combine lentils, 3 cups water, bay leaf, and 1 tablespoon salt in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until lentils are tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Drain and cool.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400º. Toss together squash, red onion, curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large bowl. Roast, until charred and crisp-tender, about 15 minutes or however long is needed.
Heat ¼ cup coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-low. Add cashews, and cook, shaking skillet, until sizzling, 7 to 8 minutes. Add mango, cherries, and cranberries, and cook until fruit is puffy and cashews are golden, about 8 minutes. Drain mixture on paper towels, and season with ½ teaspoon salt.
Place rice in a large bowl, and use your hands to break up any clumps. Drizzle with remaining ¼ cup olive oil and remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil; season with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to combine. Gently fold in cooked lentils, squash, red onion, cashews, fruit, and lemon juice; season with pepper and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Fold in cilantro and scallions; garnish with fried onions before serving.
Notes—I think you could use just about any kind of dried fruit in this salad. I just grabbed what they had at my local grocery store although the original recipe that I modified called for dried peaches and pomegranates. I loved the flavors here, and I think the overall “sweetness” is what’s key…
xx — BB