Monday, 1 November, 2010

In search of perfection: Experimenting with Biriyani yet again...

If you have grown up eating  biriyani (rice flavoured with spices, slow cooked in meat juices with potatoes and eggs) served in the various Mughlai eateries of Kolkata, no other biriyani can ever satisfy you. Ah that look, that smell, that taste, that it the popular eateries like Shiraj, Ameenia, Bedwin, Ar Salan or the upscale caterers like Bijoli Grill, Anada, Bhoj...chefs in Kolkata know how to make their biriyani.

For two lost souls craving for Kolkata biriyani and deprived of home (as in Kolkata) food for over a year there are two options open--either try out the Indian restaurants here or try cooking it at home.

Trying out the Indian restaurants so far has been laced with disappointment. The biriyani they serve either has tomatoes (yuck, do not get me wrong, I love tomatoes, but not in my biriyani please) in them or just does not have the right flavour or is too bland or too greasy etc etc etc.

Now for the second option...we tried out the old recipes but they are way too time consuming and labour intensive. So we kept searching for the perfect tasting, yet easy to make biriyani recipie. I think the following recipe is pretty near to what we are searching for. Could try it out and let me know how it goes for you. Best of all, it is no fuss, well almost.


Boneless lamb: 1 kg
4 big potatoes
4 eggs
8 big onions
2 cups of rice
1/2 cup of yogurt
1 cup of chicken stalk or 2 stalk cubes (optional, if liquid stalk is added amount of water has to be reduced proportionately, under all circumstances 2 cups of water for 2 cups of rice should be added)
2 cups of warm water
Whole garam masala and a bay leaf
4 table spoons of biriyani masala ( I use the Everest Biriyani Masala)
4 table spoons of ginger garlic paste
2 table spoons of cooking oil
2 table spoon of ghee
A pinch of haldi
Kitchen foil
4/5 strands of saffron soaked in milk or yogurt (if not using the saffron, please increase the amount of haldi)
2 tea spoons of rose water (optional)
Salt according to taste

The day before wash the lamb very well and cut into medium pieces. Once all the water is drained away, marinate the lamb with half a cup of yogurt, 2 table spoons of ginger garlic paste and 2 table spoons of biriyani masala. Refrigerate the meat.

On the day of cooking make four pieces of the each potatoe and boil them (take care not to make them too soft) and drain all the water away. Also boil the eggs. Wash the rice throughly until the water runs transparent and soak the rice in water for 3 to 4 hours. Slice the onions very thinly. Take out the meat from the fridge and drain away the extra water. Pre heat the oven.

Take a oven proof big rice cooker type pan with a lid. Heat the oil and the ghee. Deep fry the potatoes with a pinch of salt followed by the eggs. Drain the excess oil with paper napkins and set this aside. Put the whole garam masala and bay leaf and once they brown add the onions and fry them till golden brown. Once the onions are done, add the ginger garlic paste, 2 spoons of biriyani masala, a pinch of haldi. Once the masala looks done (the oil with separate from the masala), add the lamb with the marinade. Cook the lamb for half an hour, once the lamb looks well fried, add the  warm water/ stalk etc. Bring it to a boil, add the rice, draining the water, stir and mix it well. Add the fried potatoes and eggs, add salt to taste. Stir again to mix this well. Turn off the heat, add the saffron and seal the pan with double layer of kitchen foil, put the lid on top and put the pan in the over. Cook for 40 mins at 165 degree centigrade. If the pan has plastic handles, cover those with foil to make them oven proof.

After 40 mins bring out the pan from the oven, let it rest for 10 mins before opening the lid. If you want that extra sweet smell that wafts from Kolkata biriyani, add two spoons of rose water before serving. It is the nearest we have been able to make, only the mixture of white and yellow rice does not come this way.

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