"This is a journey of my life since I was all of 12 yrs when I started my hand in cooking to now with displays of my learning and creations of recipes from around the world. My inspiration and role model has always been my Mum who has always created dishes from around the world and excellently well. I do not believe I would ever match to her culinary skills. I remember the times she could cook and bake almost 4-5 dishes in one go without ever letting one go under cooked or burnt! I was born and raised in Dubai, UAE and recently moved to India for family reasons. Kitchenette just means that over the decades, my kitchen has changed from that of my mum's to my uncle and aunt's, to my home in UAE and now in India. Pala't'te, describes both global cuisines ('Palatte'-diverse flavours) and pleasing diverse 'Palates'."

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sunday Lamb Biriyani - Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani

There used to be a time when I lived in the UAE that I would love to have Biriyani on a Friday afternoon followed by an afternoon snooze. But after my health went downhill, I gave up on that routine. My mom makes the best biriyani ever. Something funny though, she would make biriyani to feast on by a large gathering and would even pack what was left for our thoroughly satisfied guests but would not even eat a bite. For some reason, she dislikes biriyani. She would eat plain rice or pulav/fried rice but never biriyani :) Our guests though never had a problem with that, which just meant more for them :D Seriously it is that good. 

One Saturday my dearest hubby asked me for Biriyani on Sunday. So made my version of Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani. The response: nothing short of praise, claps and hoots! My toddler said 'Wow Mama...yummy!' So that was enough for me to know that this recipe needs to go into the blog! For my Vegetarian readers, do not fret, you can make this recipe with your choice vegetables instead of lamb. Instead of the egg you can add potato.

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani as you may know (esp. from its name) is a signature dish from Hyderabad, the City of Pearls. In fact it was the first dish I tried from various restaurants in Hyderabad. There are several versions I like. It is a blend of Mughal and Persian cuisine. Basmati rice is slow-cooked with layers of marinated meat or chicken in a deep bottomed vessel and sealed with a dough paste. This process of cooking is also known as 'Dum' . The key is to ensure that your rice turns out to be fluffy and perky. Initially I must admit my rice used to turn out to be quite sticky. This is one of the reasons why I never cooked biriyani when mom was around. I didn't want to disappoint her. She gave me a few pointers to cook basmati rice and I have included them in the recipe. However I also took tips from Jamie Oliver ;)

For the Lamb, you need:
  • 1 kg boneless Lamb, cleaned and cut into bite sized cubes, drained (use a sieve and set aside to dry)
  • 3 tbsp, crushed Ginger & Garlic or paste
  • 2 cups yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • 3 tbsp Homemade Garam Masala (Indian all spice powder)
  • 2 sprigs mint leaves,  finely diced
  • 4 sprigs of Cilantro/Coriander leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 small lemons, juiced
  • ½ tbsp Salt
For the rice, you need:
  • 1 kg of Basmati rice
  • Drinking water - double the quantity of rice
  • 1 tsp black cumin seeds
  • 6 whole green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 1 tbsp of cooking oil or clarified butter(ghee) (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp of salt
For the Biriyani:
  • 4 onions, diced finely
  • 4 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 pinches of saffron,  soaked in lukewarm water or 2 pinches of red-orange food colour
  • Sticky dough made of wheatflour and water (enough to cover the mouth of the biriyani vessel)
  • 2-3 boiled eggs, cut in halves
  • Pinch of cilantro/coriander leaves
The Make:
Cooking Time: 45 minutes Preparation Time: overnight or min of 2 hours (includes marination time) Serves 6-8

Marinating the lamb:
1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large bowl till well combined. 
2. Add the lamb and mix well. 
3. Cover and let it rest for at least 6-8 hours or overnight if possible. 
This would enhance the flavours in your biriyani as it cooks through.

Cooking the rice:
* Ensure you use a deep-bottomed and wide vessel to cook the rice. 

1. Then follow the steps in  http://gginaflavorspalatte.blogspot.in/p/how-tos-or-tips-kitchen.html for a nice and fluffy rice cook.

2. When the water comes to a running boil, toss in the dry spices, salt and oil/clarified butter and boil for a minute.  Next follow the steps in http://gginaflavorspalatte.blogspot.in/p/how-tos-or-tips-kitchen.html 

3. Immediately drain the rice along with the spices in a strainer. Let all the residual water drain off. Set aside.

Assembling the Biriyani:

1. In a skillet, add the oil and toss in the onions. Saute until crisp and golden brown and set aside on a kitchen towel. Toss away the residual oil.

Biriyani vessel is usually layered in a large vessel as shown in this image. However for 6-8 adults and the quantity of rice and meat, you could use 1/4 this size of the vessel shown in the image. Thanks to mom, I inherited her biriyani vessel :).

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the Biriyani vessel on a stove top with medium-low heat. You may need to turn on two burners depending on the size of your vessel. Let the vessel get slightly hot and turn off the heat. Alternatively, you could place the vessel in your oven and allow it to heat for a minute.

3. Now add  first half of  the marinated meat at the bottom of the vessel, followed by half of the crispy onions. This becomes your first layer.

4. Next add a layer of the half cooked basmati rice. You can chose to add a tbsp of clarified butter/ghee or oil at this stage. I had not as I did not want my rice to be too greasy seeing as I chose lamb for meat.

5. Repeat step 3 and 4 and then artistically pour the saffron mix or food colour mix on top of the rice (try a circular spiral fashion starting from center and going to the corner of the vessel. This would give an amazing colour combination of slightly white to coloured rice.

6. Next, add some sticky dough paste to the mouth of the vessel and cover with its own lid or aluminium foil. You can also place the aluminium foil and then add the sticky dough to the corners and then cover with the vessel's lid.

7. Carefully place the sealed vessel in the oven and lower the heat to 180°C. Cook for 30-40 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it rest in the oven for at least 10 minutes.

8. Uncover and serve from one side of the vessel making sure to dig deep to the bottom of the vessel and place in a biriyani pot (handi). This method of serving ensure you get all the layers of the meat, rice and spices and  the saffron/food colour.

9. Top with boiled eggs (cut in halves) and a pinch of cilantro leaves. Serve hot with papad, lime/mango pickle, green salad or just some raw onions with lemon juice and salt and vegetable raitha or plain yoghurt. 

Traditionally in Hyderabad, Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani is served with Mirchi Ka Salan (Chili and Peanut curry). Since Anup dislikes it, I didn't bother to make it. I too am not a great fan of Mirchi Ka Salan.

  1. Tips for a nice fluffy basmati rice: http://gginaflavorspalatte.blogspot.in/p/how-tos-or-tips-kitchen.html
  2. Adjust the spices to your taste.
  3. Remember the key factors for a well-cooked Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani is:
  • Well-marinated meat. You can even marinate it the night before and refrigerate. Remember to stand the meat in its own juices and spices before refrigerating.
  • A nice and fluffy basmati rice.
  • Good quantity of spices mix and rice layered well in the assembling process.
  • Whilst serving, ensure you get all the layers by digging deep into the biriyani vessel. Pretty much like you would do for an English trifle to ensure you get all the layers. You'd need a good long handle and wide mouthed ladle to do so. 

Bon Appetit! Hope you enjoy this recipe. If you do try it, please do not forget to leave me a comment here or mail me a picture of your make with your comments / feedback on gginazkitchenette@gmail.com. Alternatively you can also visit our facebook page and 'Like' our page and add in your comments there! We are also on Twitter now! Follow us here.

Happy Sunday!

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