" Come delicious little dreams Become more and more yummy deals So that you could heal All pretty unhappy kinda feel"
I don't know why I am becoming poetic nowadays. I usually do when I am quite unparallely happy or totally devastated. Uncanny.. right? But that's what I am.. During the uneventful days I am quite normal. Unusual happiness or utter sorrow brings the Quixote out in me. No wonder most of the great poets were said to be a little out of their mind. Insanity brings outrageous rhythm to your thoughts which pours out as words with a complete twist. Actually I am pushed into such bizarre moods simply by the thoughts of home or by a homely food or hearing my son pronounce correctly a moderately difficult word without efforts. So what was it that let the Miss Loony loose in me this time?
It was a very traditional goodie which actually send my palate (and mind) to extra ordinary ecstasy. Yes the 'Malabar Mutton Biriyani' is something which is more nearer to ecstasy.... if you are a biriyani lover. And like many others, I also think my mom makes the best biriyani . She makes it in the traditional "dum" procedure. 'Dum' is the process by which biriyani is cooked by retaining all its fragrance inside by sealing the lid with dough and keeping a weight on top of the lid so that the fragrant vapour is never going to escape out through any vent. Also hot embers of wood are distributed evenly under the pot as well as over the lid so that the biriyani gets cooked equally over the top and bottom. So much to do for the traditional flavour lock technique... But I do not make it the traditional way because of lack of facilities in my little flat. I try to compensate it though, with resources I have... like aluminium foil to cover the vessel over which the lid is kept which is held intact by clothe pegs :) and keeping the whole vessel in the oven to get the 'dum' effect. Not bad in the outcome. Actually it tastes almost its traditional cousin.
Here is the recipe...
Things you need:
Basmathi rice or any other biriyani rice - 5 cups, soaked for 10 minutes and drained
Boiled water - 10 cups (it depends on the rice you use. some rice needs less than double the amount of water )
Salt to taste
For the masala:
Fresh tender mutton - 1 kg (cut into medium sized pieces, washed and drained)
Vegetable oil - 4 tbsp
Large onions - 5, sliced thinly
Ginger minced - 2 tsp
Garlic minced - 2 tsp
Green chillies, minced - 6
Tomato , sliced - 3
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Black pepper powder - 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder - 2 tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Poppy seeds/ cus cus - 1/2 tsp
(Soak these two for at least 1 hour)
Grated fresh coconut - 3 tbsp (optional)
Lemon juice - of 1 lemon
Coriander leaves , sliced - 3/4 cup
Mint leaves, sliced - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Ghee / Clarified butter - 1/4 cup
Cashew nut - 50 g
Raisins - 50 g
Onion, sliced thinly - 1
Garam masala powder:
4 Cinnamon sticks of 2 inch length
4-6 mace/ jathipathri
4 Star anise
1 tsp fennel seeds
Dry roast all these and powder. Store in an air tight container
Making the masala:
Heat oil in a pressure cooker and add the sliced onions and saute until translucent. Add the minced ginger, garlic and green chillies and saute. Now add the sliced tomatoes and saute until it becomes mushy. Add the turmeric powder, pepper powder,coriander powder and garam masala powder and saute for another 2 minutes. Now add the lemon juice, salt and the leaves. Cook for a couple of minutes with the vessel covered. Meanwhile grind the soaked fennel an poppy seeds into a very fine paste. If there is difficulty grinding them add a little coconut to it and grind.Add this fennel poppy paste to the masala and saute. Finally add the mutton and mix everything well. Now close the pressure cooker and cook with the weight on in high heat. After the first vistle comes simmer the heat and cook for another twenty minutes and remove from heat.
Making the rice:
Heat another heavy bottomed deep vessel and add ghee to it . Add a thinly sliced onion and fry it until deep brown and crispy. Remove it from the ghee and keep aside. Now fry the cashews and raisins in the same ghee until brown and puffed up. Take out from the ghee and keep with the fried onion. Now add the basmathi rice to the remaining ghee and saute until it starts becoming translucent. Add hot water to it . When it comes to a boil add adequate salt and simmer the heat and cook it by covering the vessel. Stir the rice occasionally to ensure uniform cooking. Remove from heat when all the water dries up and the rice is almost cooked.
Heat a deep round vessel and add the biriyani masala to it. On top of it add a layer of rice about 3 inches thick. Spread some fried onion, cashews and raisins on top of it. Sprinkle a little garam masala powder also. Above this add another layer of rice, then the onion cashew mix and go on until all the rice is layered. Now press the top layer with a spatula in such a way that the rice forms a dome shape. This helps in retaining the spicy vapour of biriyani inside the rice layers and gives the rice a nice fragrance. Now cover the top of the vessel with an aluminium foil and place the lid tightly on top. Secure the lid with clothe pegs or any other clips. Place the vessel in oven and cook at 160 degree C or gas mark 2 for 10 minutes or simmer the heat and keep it on the stove for another 15 minutes. Then remove from heat. Do not open until you start serving.
Serve: Serve hot with coconut chutney , curd or pickles and salad. Mix the masala and rice before serving. Garnish it with fried onions, cashews and raisins.