A few days ago, I made mutton biryani. I followed the recipe that I’d learnt from a chef at the Dumphukth Restaurant at the ITC Grand Maratha Sheraton. I made certain additions to it, like adding more spices (always a good thing). Also, the biryani can be made of mutton, beef or chicken. Pick your favourite. It takes a while to prepare it all at one go, so what I usually do is keep the birasta ready, or better still marinate it the night before (this is what I do when I have to rush to office the next day).
1 kg Boneless mutton
5 medium potatoes cut into 4 and deep fried till partially cooked.
3 tomatoes, diced
1½ cups yoghurt
1 cup birasta (browned onions – read ahead for the method of browning)
¼ cup oil
2 tsps Garam Masala powder
½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
3 black cardamoms
3 star anise
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
2-4 bay leaves
1 cup coriander/parlsey leaves (chopped)
1 cup mint leaves (chopped)
10 slit green chillies (or to taste)
3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
Salt to taste
For the Rice:
1 kg Basmati rice
1/4th tsp saffron, dry roasted for a few seconds and then dissolved in a little milk
Few drops of rose water
Few drops of kewra water (screwpine essence) – they add to the fragrance of the Basmati rice, but it’s okay if you don’t have it.
Salt to taste
½ cup ghee (clarified butter)
A few table spoons of the mint and parsley mixture as well as some browned onions.
Using a mandolin slice about 6 medium onions (these will reduce after frying). Salt it and let it stand for a few minutes. Squeeze out the excess water. Deep fry until the colour is that of almonds. Be very careful, you might be tempted to fry it for a few seconds more, but don’t! They will continue to cook and become dark, even after they’re out of the fryer. This is called a birasta. This tastes wonderful when made properly. A little extra time, and you’ve got yourself burnt onions and a little less time will give you a lumpy mass instead of separate strands. I tend to much on them while I’m cooking so I always make a little extra. :-P
- Prepare a marinade with all the ingredients and marinate the mutton for at least 1 hour.
- Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes.
- Boil water and add rice to it. Add salt, rose water and screwpine essence.
- Place marinated mutton in a thick bottomed pan, add the tomatoes and potatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes (if you’re using chicken, you don’t need to cook it at this stage).
- Cook rice till it is 70% done. Strain and while it’s still steaming, spoon layers of rice over the mutton and sprinkle with mint, coriander and browned onions and saffron milk between the layers.
- Pour the melted ghee over it evenly.
- Cover this with a lid and place some heavy weight on it so that no steam can escape.
- Let it cook for about an hour.
- Garnish with fresh coriander, mint, fried cashews and birasta.
2 cups yoghurt
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
2 medium tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
A handful of chopped coriander
Serve steaming hot biryani with the cold raita.
22nd Feb, ’08 edit: I added black cardamom and star anise this time to the recipe, and it made it so much more fragrant!