Today I will tackle biryani; a grand mughal dish which has caused many an experienced home cook to shiver in dread.
Biryani is cooked on special occasions: Eids, Walimas, Aqiqahs, dinner parties etc.
I’ve come to understand that not all biryani’s are the same. There are two main cooking methods:
- Kacche Ghosht Biryani: partially cooked rice is layered over raw meat and steam cooked.
- Pakki Ghosht Biryani: partially or fully cooked meat is layered with rice and steam cooked.
Kacche Biryani is quite difficult to master, with a risk of meat remaining raw, or rice becoming too soggy. Most home cooks will not even contemplate attempting it on a special occasion.
However, the flavour achieved with Kacche Ghosht Biryani cannot be surpassed. As the meat cooks, its taste and aroma diffuses through the rice; and the meat itself remains tender and moist.
In the Pakki Ghost version the meat is already cooked, so the rice is devoid of meaty flavour. It often results in a mix-match conglomeration of rice, overly dry meat and spices.
During our recent live video stream we addressed the three common issues people encounter whilst making this royal Mughal dish:
1. Meat sticking and burning to the bottom of the pan
2. Overcooked and mushy rice
3. Uneven cooking of meat
Marination of the Lamb
Marinate 2.5 kg lamb meat overnight or for 24 hours in a marinade consisting of :
2 good pinches of saffron
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
1 large spoon sunflower oil
4 tsp ginger paste
4 tsp garlic paste
4 tsp green chilli paste
5 tsp chilli powder
4.5 tsp salt
5 tsp coriander and cumin powder
1.5 tsp turmeric powder
On the day of cooking
Fry 12 medium size onions
Soak (and boil) 200g masoor daal
Soak 1.5 kg good quality basmati rice.
About 4 hours before serving add following ingredients to the marinated meat.
2 large spoons dessicated coconut,
The drained masoor dall
2/3 of the fried onions
1/3 to 1/2 bunch of mint
3/4 bunch fresh coriander
250g tomatoes (Blitz in the blender!)
15 whole dried apricots and 1 Shan Bombay Biryani packet or your own spice mix! (Coriander, cumin, chilli powder, and turmeric).
Also add more chillies and salt (to taste).
Use a good quality long grain Basmati rice, make sure it has been washed and soaked for at least 30min prior to cooking.
To stop the rice from becoming overcooked and mushy, we will need to use rice cooked to different levels of doneness.
Boil a large saucepan of salted water (1.5 tsp salt per cup of rice) with bay leaves, cinnamon stick, a few cloves and cardamons. Once the water has boiled add in the drained pre-soaked rice and stir once through thoroughly. As soon as the water reboils, use a colander to sieve out approx 1/3 of the rice from the pot, and put this aside to drain. This is your 40% cooked rice.
After boiling the remaining rice for a further 2 minutes, take out the next 1/3 rice (60% cooked) and finally drain the last 1/3 rice (80% cooked) after another 2 minutes of boiling. These steps are an essential technique which will allow all the rice (40-80% cooked rice) to cook to perfect fluffiness, without the rice just above the meat becoming too soggy.
Assembly and cooking
Use Potatoes at the bottom of a heavy bottom pot to act as as ‘insurance’ to make sure the meat doesn’t burn or stick to bottom of the pan! Futher details are given in the video above!!
Layer 2.5cm thick slices of potato across the base of a thick based biryani pot. Add the marinated meat mixture directly on top of the potato slices, leaving a gap of approximately 1cm around the edges.
Place the 40% cooked rice onto the meat mixture and into the gap around the meat.
Scatter over half the remaining fried onions and half of the remaining 1/4 bunch coriander. Then layer the 60% cooked rice, then the last (80%) rice.
Sprinkle on saffron infused water and the remaining fried onions, fresh coriander and mint. Use a knife or a handle of a large spoon to poke 7 steam holes down through the layers. Finally spread some ghee/butter on top of the rice.
Cooking by dum (steam)
Make a chapatti dough using approx 2 cups flour and warm water, Roll into a fat sausage and use it to seal the lid of the biryani pot to the actual pot. Alternatively, you could place a heavy weight on top of the pot. Preheat a heavy based cast iron tawwa (used for making chapattis) on the stove. Place the filled biryani pot onto the tawwa and cook on the stove for approx 3 hours; first 10 mins on high heat, then medium/low heat for the rest of the time.
After around 2 hours, the seal will slowly break, as the pressure increases. You’ll see a steady stream of wonderfully fragrant steam escaping from the pot!! Wow, the smell is amazing!! This is a sign that the biryani is in its final stages!! Cook until the steam subsides slightly or for another hour!
Finally cut around the seal with a knife and carefully remove the lid. The Biryani is ready!! Serve with a yogurt raita, poppadoms and Gujarati Chaas (flavoured Buttermilk).
I hope you enjoy the video demonstration and instructions.
I pray you make the perfect Biryani on your special occasions. Please feel free to Snapchat us your results of your wonderful cooking!
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