This recipe is my mum's recipe which she learnt from her bengoli cook, its my absolute favourite biryani made with goats meat, but you can make it with any red meat (or chicken if you please, but traditionally biryani is always made from red meat). Be warned this recipe is long and time consuming to make and will use practically every equipment you own, but totally worth it!
Serves 5-6 peoples
Rice 3 cups
Water 5 & 1/4-1/2 cups (boiling water for rice, the water line should be an inch above the rice line when added to the pot)
Onions x 2 medium finely sliced
Potatoes 8 – 10 peeled and quartered
Water for Boiling potatoes
Oil/ghee 1/3 cup
Ginger paste 2 tblspns
Garlic paste 1 & ½ tblspns
Biryani masala powder/paste 1 & ¼ tblspn
Salt to taste
Nutmeg Powder 3 pinches
Mace Powder 2 pinches
Food colouring, yellow/orange 3 pinches (can be replaced with saffron)
Cinnamon stick one 3 inches long
Clove x 3
Cardamon x 3
Peppercorn x 8
Black cumin 1 pinch
Green chillies x 5 whole wash and pierce each with tip of knife- so they don't "explode"
Milk 1/6th of a cup (can be replaced with water)
Sugar a couple of pinches
High sided bowl for soaking rice
Bowl for marinating meat
Small pot for boiling potatoes
Frying pan for frying potatoes
Medium-large heavy bottom pot for cooking meat
Large heavy bottom pot for cooking rice, needs to be big enough to add meat and potatoes to the rice
extra pot/bowl for holding hot rice in temporarily
Various number and sizes/shapes of spoons
Small bowl/cup for milk mix
Firstly in a high sided bowl wash and leave the rice to soak in water; there should be enough water in the bowl so that there is at least two inches of water above the rice line. ( this can be done well in advance as the more hours the rice has to soak the better the rice cooks- aim for at least 4-5 hours)
Marinade the meat with:
“Biryani spice” paste/powder
whole green chillies x 3
salt to taste ( I recommend about 1/2-3/4 tspn)
This can be done at the same time as rice to also allow marinating time of few hours.
Next fry the thinly sliced onion in a heavy bottom pot in oil/ghee, until golden brown, switch off the heat and remove the onions from the oil with a slotted spoon and dish out on to a tray lined with kitchen roll leaves (at least 2!) Spread out the onions to cool nicely to allow them to retain their crispiness. Keep the oil for the next stages!
Remove about 4 table spoons of the onion oil/ ghee and place into your rice pot for using later. Pour half of the remaining oil, into a frying pan for using later for the potatoes, leave the remaining half in the same pot for using later with the meat.
This can be done well in advance (and in bulk) as the oil and onions can be kept for few weeks without a problem! Onions once fully cooled can be stored (as is or crushed by hand depending on its future use) in an airtight container at room temperature and the oil as well can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature- the oil should be aimed to be used within three weeks after which it can start to have a stale smell, onions can be kept easily for up to 6 weeks.
In a separate pot, par boil baby potatoes that are peeled and cut in quartets until the are cooked but still firm.
Then in the frying pan, (which has a portion of the onion oil), turning the potatoes regularly, evenly shallow fry the par boiled potatoes with a bit of Biryani powder sprinkled on it and/or yellow/orange food colour until a nice crispy crust starts to form, this should take about 10 mins on a low heat. Once ready switch off and keep on the side.
In your heavy bottom pot (that you have your onion oil in) now add the marinating meat. Cook on medium flame until tender if it still has quite a bit if water cook it off until its a thick gravy consistency then put to the side.
once the meat is tender take out the green chillies before you stir around too much so that they don't break (if they break then it will get chillier. )
Fill up fresh water in the kettle to boil and switch it on.
make a mixture of milk and a couple of pinches of yellow/orange food colouring with a couple of pinches of sugar and leave it on the side. In total it should not be more than 1/6th of a cup
In your big heavy bottom Rice pot, that has your onion oil, add:
black cumin seeds
Fry the spices on a medium heat until they start to brown. Now switch off the heat and let it cool, this step of cooling although not necessary from its cooking point of view, is very vital for safety, as if you add the rice to the very hot oil you will get lots of oil violently spitting out which can burn you!
Now drain all the water from your rice and add the rice to the pot and two green chillies. Switch the heat back on this time on full. Stir-fry the rice in the oil for a couple of minutes, now add the freshly boiled water,using the above mentioned ratio and salt. Cover the pot with its lid and cook on high heat for about 8-10 minutes. When you remove the lid you should be able to see the water has absorbed quite a bit and you should be able to see bubbles being formed on the surface of the rice. Take out a couple of grains of rice using a spoon and when you squeeze the rice between your finger n thumb it should feel firm but be able to still be mashed to a degree indicating the rice is 3/4s cooked. Now remove the rice from the heat.
Take out 2/3rds of the rice into a pot/heat proof bowl; evenly spread out the remaining 1/3 of rice in the rice pot.
-Then evenly lay on the rice ½ the meat and ½ of the potatoes potato and a handful of the fried onions then a few tspns of the milk and food colouring mix sprinkled around.
-Then add ½ of the 2/3rd of rice you have set on the side evenly layered on to the meat and potato layer.
-Next add the remaining of the meat and potato in an even layer as before with a handful of fried onions and sprinkles of the milk mix.
- Add the last layer of the remaining rice evenly
-Finish off with remaining milk mix sprinkled around and a final handful of the fried onions.
In total you should have three rice layers n two meat n potato layers.
-Put a "tawa" fry pan on the stove on a medium-high heat and the layered biryani rice pot on the tawa for about 15mins or until the steam comes all the way threw to the top (if you have a cooking thermometer you can use it to check that it has heated past 82 degrees Celsius) and the rice is at the right softness to eat if not leave on for a bit longer. Alternatively the pot can be put in the oven at gas mark 4 (180 degrees celsius ) for 15-20mins to achieve the same result.
-Once rice is ready remove from the heat source and mix well all the way through with a big flat rice spoon before you serve.
-Garnish with fried onions n coriander if you please
One can add a sliced tomato to the rice when u add the rice to the oil and some dried plums before you add the water to the rice. These things are not necessary but add to the flavour if you like them.
1 large grated carrot
1/2 cucumber cut cross-sectionally then thinly sliced in semi-circles and then cut those semi-circles into thin stripes so they compliment the grated carrot shape ( do not grate the cucumber it will get messy)
-Whip 300grms yoghurt; mix with carrot n cucumber, add a good squeeze of plain mayo, a couple of pinches of salt, a pinch of red chilli powder and if you like about half tea spoon of dry roasted white cumin seed powder.
( you can not buy it off the shelf, you have to roast on a skillet tawa (or a deep stainless steal ladle also works) roast about a tspn of white cumin seeds till they are brown then take off and grind in coffee grinder or pestle n mortar, alternatively you can roast them and grind them in bulk and keep for up to two years. It is lovely in salads, as well as, you can try and add them to your baked beans with some red chilli powder or my favourite dish I make with them is cumin chicken!)
Although the land of bengal is still a place I have yet to personally visit, it lives and breathes in my being.
HERE YOU WILL FIND:
FAMILY RECIPES FROM OUR BENGALI INFLUENCE-
FAMILY STORIES FROM OUR BENGALI ERA-
STORIES OF BENGAL