Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook
Essays | Recipes | Gallery

A disciple of Nizamuddin Auliya asked him,
"What did the companions of the cave mean
when they spoke about the choicest of food?
The Shaikh replied,
"They wanted a food that they liked.
According to some, that meant rice!"
Mi'raj Buriyani
Buriyani is always served at religious celebrations in Sri Lanka. This one was an inspiration of Bawa Muhaiyaddeen.
Total time: 2 hours
10 cups water
6 cups rice
1 tbsp. salt (for rice)
2 cups cooking oil (for frying)
3 cups potatoes, cut into ½" cubes
½ cup lima beans
¾ cup string beans, cut into ½" pieces
½ cup shelled peas
3 tbsp. cooking oil (for vegetables)
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
¼ tsp. salt (for vegetables)
1 cup cabbage, cut into chunks
1 cup carrots, quartered lengthwise and cut into ¼" slices
½ cup cubed kohlrabi
¾ cup bell peppers, trimmed and cut into ½" squares
3 tbsp. ghee
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. finely chopped chili pepper
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. cumin seeds
¼ tsp. fennel seeds
¼ tsp. fenugreek seeds
¼ tsp. black mustard seeds
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 tbsp. finely chopped chili pepper
1 cup broccoli florets and ¼" stem slices
½ cup cauliflower florets
½ cup halved cashews
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. finely chopped garlic
2 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
½ cup tomato puree
¼ tsp. cardamom
1 tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
2 tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. cumin
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. turmeric
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup raisins

Bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add the rice and salt, return to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep pot. Deep fry the potatoes a cup at a time, until they are golden brown, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Drain them, sprinkle with salt, put them on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and place them in a warm oven while the rest of the dish is being prepared.

Bring a 3-quart pot of water to a boil, add the lima beans, string beans and peas, and cook for 10 minutes or until done. Drain, put the vegetables in an oven-proof bowl, and place them in the oven with the potatoes.

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot, add the onions and ¼ teaspoon salt, and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage, carrots, kohlrabi and peppers; sauté, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until they are cooked through. Using a slotted spoon, remove these vegetables to another oven-proof bowl in the oven. Reserve the juices.

Using the same pot, heat ghee or oil, chili pepper, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon turmeric. When the oil is hot, add the seed spices. When they begin to pop, add 1 cup onions and the chopped chilies, and sauté until the onions become translucent.

Add the broccoli, cauliflower, cashews, 2 teaspoons salt, garlic and ginger, and mix well. Combine the tomato puree with the powdered spices, then add enough reserved vegetable juices and water to make 3 cups liquid. Pour this into the pot and mix well. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the lima beans, string beans and peas, and stir well. Add the lemon juice and cook for another 2 minutes.

Mix the sauce with the remaining vegetables, and add salt to taste. Let the sauce be a touch too salty, rather than too little, as it will be mixed together with the rice. Layer the rice, potatoes, raisins and curry sauce in a large serving dish and toss like a salad.