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In a large skillet, or shallow Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring often, until tender and golden, 5 minutes. Turn heat to medium, add your choice of veggies and garlic and ginger, and cook 4-5 minutes. Remove one cup of the mixture and set aside.
Add spices and bay leaf, and stir one minute, toasting the spices. Add basmati rice, and saute one-minute stirring. Add stock and salt.
Top with chickpeas, raisins and the cup of veggies you set aside. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then lower heat to low. Cover the pot with a thin dish towel, place the lid over the top of the towel, and bring the four corners of the towel up and over the lid. This will tighten the seal and keep the steam in, allowing the rice to cook more quickly and evenly.
Simmer on low 20-30 minutes or until the rice has soaked up the liquid. See notes.
While it is simmering make the Cilantro Mint Chutney
Uncover the Vegetarian Biryani and fluff up with a fork. Top with the toasted cashew and cilantro. Serve with optional Chutney.