Wash and soak the rice for about 30 minutes if possible. If not, soak it before you start chopping vegetables to give it about 10 minutes.
In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil and or ghee if using. Add the whole spices; cumin seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom. Let it fry for about 30 seconds.
Now add the sliced onion and saute until translucent.
Add the rest of the chopped vegetables - I used bell pepper and carrot. We can use potatoes, peas, green beans, cabbage and cauliflower as well. I see this recipe as a good way to use the little bit of leftover vegetable that I have in the refrigerator.
Saute the vegetables for couple of minutes and then add the turmeric powder, red chili powder and the biriyani masala.
Give it a quick stir and then add the drained rice. Mix it gently and let it all fry for about 30 seconds.
Add the water needed along with salt to cook the rice and mix well.
Let the mixture come to a boil and then simmer the flame and cover the pot with the lid. Let it cook on the lowest flame until the rice is completely cooked. This takes about 10 to 12 minutes. Check the rice in between to see if it is cooking.
Do not mix it too often as you will break the long rice pieces. When all the water has been absorbed and the rice appears cooked, turn off the flame and fluff it lightly with fork. Let it sit for few more minutes covered.
Serve warm with raita and or plain yogurt.