Wash and soak rice in salted water for 30 minutes.
Heat ghee in a heavy saucepan.
Fry onionstrips till crisp, brown, drain, keep aside.
Fry cashews till light brown, drain, keep aside.
Fry capsicums till tender, drain, keep aside.
Meanwhile, heat 6 cups water in a large vessel.
Add bay leaves, peppers, cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, salt.
When it comes to boil, drain and add rice.
Bring to boil, cook for 8-9 minutes, till rice is just but not fully done.
Drain in a large colander, spread in a big plate, cool.
Grind quartered onions, ginger, garlic to a paste.
In hot ghee, add paste stirfry for 2-3 minutes.
Add all powdered masalas, tomatoes, mixed vegetables, stir, cook till fat separates.
Beat curd, add, stir till the boil resumes, cook 2-3 minutes.
Add potatoes, stir, keep aside.
To fill handi:
Grease an oven proof handi well on the inside.
Place in half of rice, spread at the bottom.
Top with half vegetables layer, spread over rice.
Mix together fried onions, capsicums, cashews, sliced almonds, coriander.
Sprinkle half over vegetable layer.
Sprinkle half lemon juice all over.
Repeat rice to lemon juice layer by layer.
Either cover with fitting lid, seal edges with chapati dough, or Seal top with a tightly packed foil sheet.
Make a small slit for excess steam to escape.
Bake in a preheated oven at 130oC for 15-20 minutes.
Break seal at the table to get the most out of the aroma.
A handi is a round potlike vessel, with a neck narrower than the base. It may be made of metal or in earthenware. It must be heatproof though. If not available use a deep heavy saucepan.
For a stronger flavoured biryani, mix in some powdered mace, nutmeg into rice before transferring to handi.
Prepare handi few hours ahead, and bake just before serving, to organise your time better.
Making time: 1 hour Makes: 8 servings Shelflife: Best fresh and piping hot