Berya with coconut milk and pomegranate dressing

Berya with coconut milk and pomegranate dressing

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This recipe came around because I was being greedy. It was a Sunday afternoon and I had already had a fry-up that day, but I also don't think Sundays can be Sundays without a roast dinner. You see the dilemma. There was no chance I would be able to eat any roast potatoes, but maybe half a plate of something with lettuce wouldn't feel so gluttonous. So I decided to give what I would usually roast for a Sunday lunch a Persian make-over, and turn it in to a berya- or the origins of what we call a biryani- rice and vegetables that have been roasted or fried. If I was feeling pedantic I'd also pretend that I knew pomegranate seeds were also native to Persia (modern day Iran) before including them in this recipe, but I just thought they would taste good against the beetroot and rice.

As it happened, the onions were the only thing that ended up being roasted, the rest baked. By cooking them in their skins, they stay really juicy and you get the full whack of their flavour instead of mingling it in with other tastes.

I found amber beetroot and purple carrots in our vegetable box on the same week, which only helped emphasise the contrary theme. This turned in to a super easy Sunday dinner that worked for lunch the following day. It's light, fresh and a good counterattack for a full English. As with any of the salad recipes on Guac, if you're going to save this for leftovers, I would recommend not adding the dressing until you're ready to eat, or it might take over every other flavour.

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Makes enough for 4

For the coconut milk and pomegranate dressing

1/2 can coconut milk

About 2 inches of cucumber, chopped down small

Handful of coriander, chopped

Salt and pepper

Juice of a lime

Seeds from half a pomegranate


For the vegetables, rice and salad

6 small white onions, tops and bottoms cut off but with skins left on

Vegetable oil

Salt and pepper

2 large beetroots, peeled and sliced into roughly 5mm discs  

4 carrots, peeled and with the tops and tips cut off, cut lengthways to roast

2 cups dry rice

1 tsp turmeric

Salad leaves

Extra cucumber for the salad

Handful of almonds

Make the dressing first so the flavours can develop in together. In a jug or bowl, add in all the dressing ingredients, holding back half of the pomegranate seeds to use over the rest of the salad for serving.

To make the vegetables, pre heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Place the onions in an oven-proof dish with some vegetable oil and salt and pepper and roast for 35-40 minutes. The beetroot will take a similar amount of time, so cover an oven tray with baking parchment and bake in the middle of the oven. I added some salt for a little flavour as I find beetroot can turn a bit earthy without it. Put the carrots on baking parchment and then in the oven about 15 minutes later, so they bake for about 20-25 minutes. Once the carrots are in, cook the rice with the turmeric so it turns that great yellow colour. 

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Once the rice and vegetables are ready you can start plating up. Drain the rice and share it between the plates, then stack on the lettuce, cucumber, beetroot and carrots. Once the onions have cooled a little, squeeze them out of their skins and dot them around each plate.  

Add dollops of the dressing, with a sprinkle of the final pomegranate seeds and some of the almonds.  

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