- Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large, heavy bottomed, lidded saucepan. Fry the onions with the salt for 10 minutes, or until soft and just starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute, until aromatic. Add the cumin, ground coriander, garam masala and cardamom pods. Fry again for another minute and crumble in the stock cube.
- Add the vegetables and rice, and stir until everything is well coated in the onion spice mixture.
- Add 600ml/1 pint of water and turn up the heat to bring the rice to the boil. Put on the lid and reduce the heat as low as it will go, then allow to steam for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and allow the rice to rest, lid on, for a further 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toast the almonds over a medium heat in a small frying pan until golden, and roughly chop the coriander.
- Remove the lid from the rice, and pick out the cardamom husks that should have worked their way to the top. Fluff up the rice with a fork, and stir in the flaked almonds, chopped coriander and the lemon juice before serving.
Making the perfect biryani is dependent on a number of factors, especially how much control you have over your heat source (if you are cooking on a gas or electric hob, for example), how heavy the bottom of your pan is and how tight a fit the lid is. If your biryani is slightly undercooked, return it to the heat with a splash more water until it is all absorbed. If it is slightly sticky, reduce the quantity of water by 25ml next time you make it.