Mutton (Lamb) Biryani
Serves: 4 - 5
You will need
Ratio of rice to water – 1 cup basmati rice : 1 3/4 cups water
3 cups (600 g) basmati rice
4 cups water + 1 1/4 cup thick coconut milk (that makes a total of 5 1/4 cups of liquid for 3 cups of rice).
12 cashew nuts (soak in 1 tablespoon water for half an hour and make a paste)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons red chilli powder
1 teaspoon jeera powder (cumin seed powder)
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
Saffron - a few strands - soaked in 1 table spoon milk - optional.
Wash and clean rice. Drain out water thoroughly. In a non stick pan, add rice, thick coconut milk (1 1/4 cup), water (4 cups), jeera powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, cashew nut paste and salt. Cover with a tight lid and cook on a low to medium heat for 15 – 18 minutes or until the water dries up and rice cooked well (each rice grain should be separate). Switch off the heat and keep aside. Don't worry even if the rice is only 90 % cooked. Do not over cook under no circumstances.
For mutton (lamb) masala:
1 kg mutton, cut into medium size pieces
1 cup (100 ml) thick curd
Juice of a lemon (1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 tablespoons oil (may use less or more quantity - May use ghee or butter as well. Never use vanaspati)
2 bay leaves
5 cinnamon sticks (1 – inch size)
4 onions, finely sliced
5 green chillies, make a paste of green chillies
3 tablespoons ginger – garlic paste (fresh and homemade)
2 teaspoons red chilli powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons coriander powder
3 tomatoes (pick well ripe), chopped in big slices
1 ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
Extra 2 tablespoon chopped mint and coriander leaves (for final preparation)
Wash and clean mutton pieces. Drain out water completely. Wipe each piece with a kitchen towel.
In a wide bowl, mix mutton pieces with thick curd and juice of a lemon. Marinate well and keep aside for at least half an hour.
Dilute red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder in 2 tablespoon water (spice mix). Keep aside.
In a pan, heat oil. Add whole spices (bay leaf, cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon stick). Fry on a low heat until fragrant.
Add sliced onions and fry till golden color on a low to medium heat.
Add green chilli paste and stir well.
Add ginger – garlic paste and stir well for 2 – 3 minutes or until the raw smell goes.
Add diluted spice mix (red chilli powder – turmeric powder – coriander powder) and stir well on a low heat for 2 – 3 minutes or until well blended and water dries up.
Add chopped tomatoes. Stir well for 4 – 5 minutes or until the tomatoes well mixed with onions and other spices / tomato gravy thickens.
Add chopped mint and coriander leaves. Mix well.
At this point, add marinated mutton pieces and salt to taste. Do not add extra water during cooking. Cover with a tight lid and cook on a low to medium heat for 30 - 40 minutes or until done / mutton pieces softens / gravy thickens ( you may get approximately 1/2 cup gravy).
In wide non stick pan / thick bottomed vessel / iron kadai, spread alternate layers of gravy-less mutton mixture and rice to make it 2 - 3 layers of mutton / rice. Sprinkle chopped mint and coriander leaves. Spread extra mutton gravy (1/2 quantity) evenly over this. Cover with a tight lid and cook on a very low heat for 20 minutes. Open the lid and mix mutton masala and rice gently. Serve with raita / baingan pachadi / salad / pickle / sweet & sour chutneys (tomato , dates .....etc).
Garnishing : - The scope for garnishing is limitless; and depends on time, convenience and availability. Suggest garnish with fried onions, raisins and cashew for a minimum. For those who prefer more decoration may add chopped ripe pineapple , cherry's at this stage.