One of the very first dishes that I learned to cook, was biryani simply because it’s my favorite. I love to have it any time of the day, lol!. That’s absolutely bad for my waistline but I still do it.. 😀
Biryani preparation intimidates a lot of people due to the various steps involved. But I will make it simple for you and list it in points. Even newbies can try this out and for that reason, I have explained everything in detail and also included several tips. This is my mom’s recipe ♥
Btw, I will be including links to several of the ingredients I mention below so that you can find them easily in case it’s not locally available to you and also because the site that am linking to, gets you everything on a discount and ships worldwide from US.
Ok, let’s make mutton biryani 🙂 . Btw, the spice level is hot. Tone down the chili if you like it mild.
Here are some steps that should be done before hand (or during the cook, if you are ok with multitasking).
● Clean the mutton very well. Remove unnecessary fat layers, hair if any and if you look close, it might even have wood pieces in it, from the cutting board used by the butcher. Remove these by hand, wash several times, then add a little bit of salt (for it’s cleansing properties) & turmeric powder (for it’s antiseptic properties). Do one final rinse & keep in a colander so that excess water is gone.
Those marked in red, goes away
● Ginger, garlic and chilies should be ground together coarsely.
● Onion should be sliced lengthwise & as thin as possible. You will need onion for 3 purposes – to make masala, for raita & for Birista (deep fried onions used for garnish).
Tip – If you separate the outermost layer of every onion and slice that thinly, that’s the best choice for frying, since this layer has the least water content and fries faster.
● Grated coconut & around 12-15 cashewnuts should be ground with a little bit of water, to make a fine paste. Adding this makes the masala richer.
● Tomato should be diced into cubes. Add the juice of 1 lemon to this.
● Coriander & Mint leaves should be chopped into tiny pieces. This is used for two purposes – for adding into masala & for garnish.
Tip – Use the more leafy part for garnish while the stems and all goes into the masala.
● Pineapple should be diced into tiny cubes. You just need a handful. Take it into your hand and squeeze to get it’s juice. Dont throw those cubes away now that you have taken it’s juice. These are used for garnish. Add 2 capfuls of pineapple essence to the juice. Keep aside.
● Take 1 tsp of milk (that’s at room temperature) & mix 2 drops of yellow food color in it. This is used also in the final garnish process.
Tip – If using powder food color, go for the slightest amount, like maybe 2 mg or something, coz they tend to be pretty pigmented. If milk is not available, you can substitute with water.
● By now, water should have left the mutton. Make a mix of 8-10 tbsp yogurt, juice of 1/2 a lemon, some mint & coriander leaves, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp salt. Mix well with mutton and let it marinate for atleast 1/2 an hour.
Tip – Yogurt & lime helps to make the mutton tender while the spices, herbs & salt helps mutton pieces to get more flavor.
● Place a pan on high flame & pour equal amounts of RKG (Cow ghee) & vegetable ghee. Once it’s hot, lower the flame & add about 50 gms of halved cashew nuts. Let it fry just the slightest bit. It shouldn’t become reddish. Remove immediately & then fry the onion in the same ghee. The leftover ghee is used in the garnish process. So, keep that aside.
Note – You can add sliced almonds too along with cashew nuts. Also, golden raisins can be added too if you like the sweet taste that they impart. Fry them until they puff up and remove before they become reddish brown.
Tip : Frying the nuts first infuses the oil with a lovely taste & smell. This transfers onto the onions when you fry then next. When frying onions, make sure there is a good amount of ghee, so that it’s immersed in it. We are deep frying the onion. Next thing, don’t stir the onion. Just let it be. When the onion on the sides start gaining more color, give a slight stir. This ensures golden fried onion. A tip within a tip (Whoa, Inception!) – Before frying the onion, add a pinch of salt & 1/2 tsp sugar to it. It gives the onion birista a wonderful flavor & the sugar helps towards making it caramelized.
Ingredients for meat masala
Mutton – 2.5 kgs
Onion – About 25 (Yes!. I do mean 25, not 2-5) medium sized ones (used for three purposes, explained earlier) -that’s roughly 2 kgs
Green chilies – 15
Tomato – 4 – 5 medium sized ones
Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Lemon – 1
Vegetable ghee – 5 tbsp for masala & as required for preparing onion birista
Cow ghee– As required
Ginger garlic paste – 3 tbsp (or you could use fresh ginger and garlic)
Garam masala – 2 tbsp
Coriander powder – 2 tbsp
Chili powder – 3 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tbsp
Chicken stock cube – 1
Salt – To taste
Coriander leaves – 2 bunches
Mint leaves – 1 bunch
Cashew nuts – Roughly 50+ gms
Grated coconut – 1/4th of a coconut
Method of making the meat masala
Add 5 tbsp vegetable ghee to a deep pan, on medium flame. Add about 3 tbsp ginger garlic green chili paste. Saute for about 3 mins, until the raw smell of the ginger garlic goes away. Then add onion. Keep sauteing, until translucent/light brown. Add salt (it helps the onion to lose its water content and fasten the process of becoming translucent). Add garam masala, coriander powder, chili powder & turmeric powder to the onion. Saute and mix well.
Add tomato & lime mix to the pan. If you want, you add 1 cube of chicken stock at this point (irrespective of what meat variety you are using. This gives an enhanced flavor). Add yogurt, coriander leaves, mint leaves, cashew/coconut mix. Mix well in between adding the above 4 ingredients. This onion & spices mix is called ‘masala’.
Meanwhile, put the marinated mutton in the pressure cooker (without adding water) and depending on how tender the meat is, pressure cook it for 2- 4 whistles. It should be done to about 80%.
Add this to the masala when it starts to boil slightly. Close the lid. Let it be, for some 10 mins, on sim. This step helps the mutton to draw in the flavor from the masala. Switch off flame & keep aside when you feel the meat is done.
Method to make rice
Rice – 1.5 kgs (Tip – Usually the rice : meat ratio is 1:2)
Fennel seeds– About 1 tbsp
Cinnamon sticks – 5 one inch pieces
Cardamom – 7-8 big ones
Whole peppercorns – 12-14
Bay leaf – 2
Half a lemon
Salt – to taste
Use good quality long grained Basmati rice for biryani.
Wash the rice several times until water runs clear. Strain and keep aside. No need to soak the rice. Then take a pot with 3/4th of it filled with water. Add fennel seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, bay leaf, cardamom, whole peppercorns to it, in order to let it infuse in the water. Add salt in such a way that the water actually tastes salty.
Tip – This is because this water is drained away once the rice gets cooked. By making it salty, the rice gets the right amount of salt in it.
Once it starts to boil, add the rice. Immediately add the juice of half a lemon to the pot.
Tip : This ensures that the rice doesn’t stick together when cooked.
Now, be alert and check the doneness of the rice after about 6 mins and onwards. It should be 80% done when you drain away the water.
Final cooking process
Add one layer of masala at the bottom of the pan that you are planning to do the ‘Dum’ process (which is the cooking of the meat, masala and rice together). Then add once layer of rice. Next sprinkle some coriander leaves,mint leaves, ghee (leftover from making the onion birista), pineapple cubes, pineapple essence/juice mix, milk/food color, cashew nuts (From here on the above will be mentioned as ‘garnish’).
Next add another layer of rice, then a layer of meat masala, then rice, garnish and repeat the above if there is more rice/meat masala. The final layer will be rice that’s topped with the garnish.
Tip – Now seal the pan with a layer of foil. This seals in aroma & heat.
Then put on the lid of the pan. Keep something heavy on top of it, like the mortar (from the mortar & pestle thing). Keep on high flame for 3 mins, then on sim for 15 mins. Biryani ready!
Note – If you are using fish or chicken as your meat choice, fry them first. A little of the oil that it is fried in, can be added while making the masala and also during dum process. It brings more flavor.
Biryani should be served with a yogurt salad called raita.
Method of making raita
Yogurt – As required
Onion – 1
Tomato – 1 medium sized one
Green chilies – 3
Curry leaves- 2 stems
Salt – To taste
Chop onion finely. Dice tomato. Add chopped green chilies and curry leaves along with a little salt. Next, squeeze and crush these together with your fingers to let it release it’s juices. Then add yogurt to make it the perfect raita.
I hope you try this biryani recipe. If you do, please share your experience with me & my readers ♡. If you have doubts, leave a comment & I will try my best to explain more. I have put in a lot of effort in doing this post. Would be great if you shared this on any social media channels. Thanks!