Jan 12, 2013

Ustad Biryani

Ustad Biryani

Me and my family watched the famous Malayalam Movie of recent past “Ustad Hotel”. My husband, who is an avid foodie, immediately suggested me to make the “Karimikka’s Biryani” which is also a main character in the movie.

I prepared the biryani today in the same traditional Kozhikode (earstwhile Calicut) preparation, where preparing the traditional biryani is not a science, but an art, master by selected few (no recipe or hints are given in the movie). Only difference is that I used Basmati rice (the demand for the biryani was at short notice), but the “Original” Kozhikode Biryani is prepared with “Kyma” or “Jeerakasala” rice. I’ll post the recipe link soon.

After tasting the Biryani, my husband and son gave a thumbs up to me, which gave me a lot of satisfaction (just as it is portrayed in the movie, that the food when prepared with devotion and dedication, will not only satisfy the taste buds, but also give wholesome pleasurable experience to body and soul).

 Serves: 3
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour


1st stage:

For the lamb (mutton):

500 g mutton (lamb)

100 ml yogurt/ curd, whisked

2 teaspoon ginger - garlic paste ( fresh and homemade )

1 teaspoon salt ( or to taste )

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Wash and clean mutton pieces. Drain out water completely. Marinate mutton pieces with  ginger - garlic paste, turmeric powder, whisked yogurt and salt. Cover and keep aside for half an hour.

Other ingredients

2 tablespoons oil (may use less or more quantity - May use ghee or butter as well. Never use vanaspati)

2 bay leaves

5 cloves

5 cardamoms

5 cinnamon sticks (1 – inch size)

4 onions, finely sliced

5 green chillies, slit lengthwise

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), cut into thick slices

1 ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)

2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves


2nd stage

For  the masala:

Dilute red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder in 2 tablespoon water (spice mix). Keep aside.

In a pan, heat oil or ghee.  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 slit  green chilli 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  sliced 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 (along with thick yogurt / curd) and salt to taste. Cover with a tight lid and cook on a low to medium heat for  40 - 50 minutes or until done / mutton pieces softens / gravy thickens ( you may get approximately  ¾  - 1 cup thick gravy).

For the rice:

3rd stage


1 teaspoon ghee

4 black cardamom

4 cloves

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

5 peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups / 400 ml basmati rice (Indian standard measuring cup of 200 ml / 8 oz capacity)

6 cups water

For the Rice:

In a pan, heat ghee. Add peppercorns,fennel seeds, cardamom and cloves. Fry till fragrant.

Put all the fried spices, salt and ghee in water and boil. Add rice, and cook until 3/4th done (do not overcook rice. Each rice grain should be separated). Remove whole spices when assembling.

Final preparation:

4th stage


3 tablespoon ghee / oil

2 onion, thinly sliced

10 cashew nuts  splits (or more)

10 raisins (or more)

2 tablespoon chopped mint  and coriander leaves

1/4 teaspoon saffron diluted in 2 tablespoon  milk (optional)

Extra 1 tablespoon ghee

A wet towel or wet Kerala thorth

Maida dough for the seal (depending upon the size of the pan / pot)

Extra 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves


Heat oil / ghee in a pan. Add sliced onions and fry until golden brown and crisp on a medium to low heat. Keep  aside.

Add cashew nut splits and fry on a low heat until golden color. Keep aside.

Add raisins and fry on a low heat until golden color. Keep aside.

Final stage

Dum method:

In a heavy - bottomed vessel or biryani pot or thick non stick kadai, spread a layer of  lamb (mutton) masala (along with half portion of thick gravy) and half portion of cooked rice.  Make 2 layers with cooked rice and mutton masala. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ghee, golden onions, saffron solution (optional), chopped coriander – mint leaves and shallow fried raisins and cashew nuts. Gently put a wet soft towel  over  it. It will help to retain the flavour of the biryani.

Cover with a tight lid. Seal with maida dough on the edges of the lid. Heat a heavy - bottomed iron kadai. Keep biryani pot over it and cook on a low heat for  30 minutes. You can find a color change on the maida seal. Switch off the heat and keep aside for another 15 minutes. Open the seal carefully. Decorate with chopped coriander and mint leaves. Serve with hot with Raita and pickle / boiled egg ...

Here's the recipe link of Kerala Chicken Dum Biryani or Kannur Style Chicken Dum Biryani (with Kyma rice / Jeerakasala rice)

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