This was one of my staples for the longest time... my ex had an Indian coworker who tasted this and said it was better than any biryani she'd ever made.
1 cup rice, preferably basmati, rinsed
1 tablespoon soy margarine
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 baking potato (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into small chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 10-oz package frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
To serve (see note):
1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
Plain soy yogurt
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in the rice and boil until just done, about 10 minutes. Drain the rice, return to the pot, and cover to keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, melt the margarine with the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the cumin, turmeric, curry powder, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute longer. Add the potato, carrots, water, and salt. Increase the heat to moderately high and simmer until the vegetables are tender and very little to no liquid remains in the pan, about 10 minutes.
Stir the peas into the other vegetables, and remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the 1/4 cup yogurt and the rice. Serve topped with the jalapeno, tomato, cilantro, and additional yogurt. Serves 4.
Note: This tastes fine without the jalapeno and tomato, but I'd recommend not skipping the cilantro. If you don't like cilantro, use a mixture of fresh parsley and mint instead. This is also good with mango chutney.
Helpful hint: Chop everything ahead of time, measure out all the spices into a small cup, etc. The cooking goes pretty quickly, so if you take the time to measure as you go, you'll burn it!