BIRYANI/YAKHNI PULAO…Mingling with ‘One Dish Dinners’

“In the childhood memories of every good cook, there’s a large kitchen, a warm stove, a simmering pot and a mom.”
Barbara Costikyan

LAMB BIRYANI/YAKHNI PULAO

Decided to make a biryani/yakni pulao for lunch last weekend. Have been procrastinating making it for long as it is just a bit involved. Then I thought, might as well, & went off to dust the cob-webs off my biryani utensil which hadn’t seen light of day for a while. Life seems to be all about eating & drinking…so I got on with tying my bouquet garni!! In a strange quirk of fate, after eating the Mughlai dish for lunch, we unexpectedly got invited to see a special screening of the film ‘Jodhaa Akbar’ that night. The film was a tad disappointing for a period film. It’s based on a 16th century love story about a marriage of alliance that gave birth to true love between a great Mughal emperor, Akbar, and a Rajput princess. The high point of the film was beautiful glimpses of extensive shooting done within the palaces of Rajasthan. Absolutely stunning…unbelieveable that such interiors could have been made by man, & that too centuries ago!

Back to the foodie issue then…The recipe is one my mother has been making for years, & the kids love it because the stock flavours the rice beautifully. I made a small change to it by using half milk/half water to make the stock. Had read about that in a Hyderabadi coffee table book by Pratibha Karan. And yes, I also added some star anise since the flavour is nice & subtle. This preparation is a cross between a biryani & pulao; more a pulao because the rice is cooked in stock, & a bit like biryani because I slow-cooked it on dum!

Historically, Biryani and Pulao were ‘rice and meat’ dish.
In Pulao, the ‘meat and rice are stirred’ before cooking. For Biryani, meat and rice are layered during cooking. Pulao is of Persian origin. Pilaf is another common name used in India. Mutton was cooked in water with aromatic spices. Once the meat was cooked, rice and more water were added to finish cooking. The broth with yogurt was called Yakhni.
Biryani in Farsi means ‘fry before cooking’. To make Biryani, mutton is fried in ghee and par-cooked (Cooked half way). Separately, the rice is fried in ghee, and par-cooked (cooked half way). The rice and meat were layered (cluster of rice on top of cluster of meat) in a cookware called handi. The handi is sealed with dough. It is dum cooked (baked) on low heat.

It’s delicious served with a ‘Garlic Raita (yogurt)’

Ingredients:

Lamb – 750gms (ribs & shoulder cuts)
Rice – ½ kg (2 steel glasses)/ soaked for 30 minutes
Onions – 4 (3 whole; 1 sliced)
Garlic – 1 whole bulb
Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Ginger grated – 1 tbsp
Whole Coriander seeds – 3 tbsps
Whole Fennel – 3 tbsps
Star Anise -2-3 (optional)
Star Anise powder -1 tsp (optional)
Green Cardamom -3
Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Milk – 1 1/2 glasses
Bay leaves – 2
Cinnamon sticks – 2 pieces
Saffron – 1 pinch soaked in a few tbsps warm milk
Cashewnuts for garnishing

Method:

  • Make a bouquet garni with 3 onions (whole) + whole coriander seeds + whole fennel + star anise + garlic bulb + grated ginger. Tie firmly.
  • Put the lamb in the cooker with the bouquet garni + 1 1/2 glasses of water + 1 1/2 glasses of milk + 1 tsp of salt.
  • Cook under medium pressure for 15 minutes. Open only once cool. (Adjust cooking time according to your need; the lamb shouldn’t get overdone, otherwise it will fall into pieces while roasting later! CAREFUL!).
  • Once cool, pour through a soup strainer & collect stock (yakhni) in a bowl; pick out the lamb pieces & reserve in another bowl. Squeeze out the bouquet garni through the strainer. Dispose off the bouquet garni .
  • Now measure the stock/yakhni (if rice 2 glasses then stock should be 3 ½ glasses); make up the shortfall with water if required.
  • Heat ½ cup oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add sliced onion & fry till light brown.
  • Remove & keep for garnishing. Repeat with cashews.
  • Add the green cardamom & fry till light brown.
  • Add the lamb pieces, yogurt & garlic paste. Roast gently.
  • Now add the stock + bay leaves + cinnamon sticks + salt for rice & bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add the rice & let it get 2-3 rolling boils, then cover & simmer for 10-15 minutes till the rice is almost done.
  • Open & sprinkle the saffron & milk mixture evenly over the top.
  • Cover with a snug lid sealed with some dough & leave to cook on dum on a girdle/tava on low heat for about 15-20minutes. ( or in the oven at 150 degrees C for 30 minutes).
  • Don’t open immediately; let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes.
  • Garnish with fried onions & cashews.
  • Serve with a Garlic raita. (Whip a bowl of yogurt with 1 level tsp garlic paste; add salt & red chili flakes; mix well;chill)
    Notes: Always reheat biryani with a little sprinkle of milk.
How familiar those words are for all of us… ‘What’s For Lunch Honey?‘. It’s mingle time once again at Meeta’s & this time she’s looking for yourOne-Dish Dinners…”the only rule is your entire dinner should come out of ONE pot!” Sit pretty in the pot, dear biryani…it’s time to be sent off for the ‘Monthly Mingle’!
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Comments

  1. This one is a definite keeper of a recipe – I’m bookmarking it!

  2. Oh I love it. I didn’t understand half of it but I love it. Hehehe. I need to make some research about the ingredients and utensils. I love the fact that you gave us some history of the dish. Delicious!

  3. Happy cook says:

    Beautiful Biriyani. I love them.
    I see a star anise in the piv, you can send it to Sunita too as the spice is star anise.

  4. vimmi says:

    Oh thats so yummy. Lot of work though but surely worth it if the end product is so good.

  5. Meeta says:

    Oh yes! I love biryani and really appreciate all the effort that goes into making this dish. I’ve made it on a few occasions so I know. Deeba, this is a fantastic entry.

  6. Passionate baker...& beyond says:

    Thanks Miri.
    Hi Ben…you make me laugh!! Its just a lamb cooked in some liquid to make a stock. Then strained to get a clear stock & lamb separate. Then the lamb & rice are put together in a big heavy bottomed pan & simmered till the rice is done …& thankfully the lamb too. See…easy no?
    Happy Cook, Star anise seems to be my spice of the month too ever since I got it on my friendship chain! Have sent Sunita an entry already…thanks for the thought!!
    Vimmi, Meeta…thanks for the great words…:0)

  7. Passionate baker...& beyond says:

    Thanks Miri.
    Hi Ben…you make me laugh!! Its just a lamb cooked in some liquid to make a stock. Then strained to get a clear stock & lamb separate. Then the lamb & rice are put together in a big heavy bottomed pan & simmered till the rice is done …& thankfully the lamb too. See…easy no?
    Happy Cook, Star anise seems to be my spice of the month too ever since I got it on my friendship chain! Have sent Sunita an entry already…thanks for the thought!!
    Vimmi, Meeta…thanks for the great words…:0)

  8. Arundati Rao says:

    looks fabulous…i love the brass handi!!

  9. Purnima says:

    Deeba, lovely n detailed directions n the biryani looks yum!! U surely have lots of patience n caliber of a 1000 cooks!

  10. Biryani looks yummm Deeba..Love ur explanation and write-up about it ?? Jodha Akbar disappointing?, I was looking fwd to seeing it :(…

  11. Lamb, rice, spices, nuts…I’m in heaven! I can’t wait to try this, as I know it will be amazing!

  12. Mrs. W says:

    I have to try this! Thanks for posting such a mouth-watering recipe!

  13. shayma says:

    deeba i cant believe you asked me for a pulao recipe- (i have posted it)- but look at this fantastic recipe you have created- you need not ask anyone for a recipe! this is so beautiful, each grain separated and the onions so beautifully caramelised. i am definitely going to visit you in Delhi one day, inshallah. hope you are having a great w/e. x shayma

  14. Amarnath says:

    nice recipe…btw, how much is a glass in ml?thanks for any info you can provide…

  15. Shereen says:

    I just tried this out! OMG its super tasty!! I loved the aroma, the color..it was just perfect :)
    After drooling over almost all the pics, I thought I'd give this one a try and it turned out wonderful!
    Thank you

  16. Jinny says:

    Hi, Thanks for the recipe – got a question – will this work out with chicken instead of lamb?

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