Biryani is a luxurious, highly seasoned rice and meat, vegetable or fish dish. In the past it was cooked predominantly at Indian functions or on special occasions, but it’s now frequenting our tables on any day of the week.
My mom made the most divine meals when we were growing up, always something different every day. She’s my role model and created my passion for food. Her biryani was second to none and therefore it is one of my absolute favourite dishes. I find any excuse to cook it, especially when the sky darkens, with the sound of distant thunder and the promise of rain. Mmmm pure hearty comfort!
Steam four peeled and quartered potatoes – coloured with 1/4 teaspoon of orange food colouring and a little butter – in a microwave for five minutes. Cook three cups of rice of your choice until 3/4 done. Boil 1/2 cup biryani dal or lentils, or use one can of brown lentils. Boil a few eggs (optional).
TO A LARGE POT, ADD:
2KG lamb pieces (on the bone)
1 large chopped onion
2 tsp each of roasted dhania seeds, jeera seeds and fennel seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
4 cloves and elachi (all ground)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp tumeric
2 tsp ginger and garlic paste
1 tbs chilli powder (optional)
2 sprigs curry leaves
1/2 tsp saffron
10 peppercorns (freshly and coarsely ground)
4 dried chillies
1 cup sour milk
Cook for 45 minutes on medium to high heat. Mix in two tablespoons of tomato paste and one bunch of mint leaves. Spread a thin layer of half-cooked rice over the meat mixture, spread the biryani dal over, add the potatoes and boiled eggs (if using). Cover with the remaining rice, a few blobs of butter and half a teaspoon of orange food colouring on top.
Add one cup of ice water, cover the pot with foil and then the lid, and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to the lowest and steam or bake in a preheated oven at 160°C for about 45 minutes until rice is cooked through. Enjoy with dal or raita.
No oil is used in this recipe.
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