Biryani, it is probably the only dish which has never seen the face of rejection, I have never come across a single entity who has turned down Biryani for something better.
Honestly I never understood the impetus that over hyped Biryani, maybe it was people’s inability to master the art of Biryani making or maybe it was just their love for rice and meat which shared a common plate (for bengalis it was definitely potatoes).
Whatever maybe the reason it was not enough to make me fall for it probably because it is a staple at my household or maybe because I am quite familiar with the art of biryani making.
As promised to Many, here is my mum’s recipe of the best Kolkata Biryani.
Prep Time : 4 hours Cooking Time: 3 hours Serves: 4
Here’s what you will need:
- Basmati rice 500gms
- Mutton/beef 750gms
- peeled potatoes (big potatoes halved into 2)
- Onion 250gms
- Coriander powder 1tsp
- Red chili powder 1tsp
- Curd 100 gms
- Ginger garlic paste 2tsp
- Alu bukhara (dried plum) 4
- Biryani masala (packaged or homemade) 2 tsp
- Saffron ( one pinch)
- Milk 1 cup
- 4-6 drops meetha attar
- 1/4th cup rose water
- White oil
- Desi ghee
- Star anise
- Bay leaves
Here’s what you need to do:
Take the meat in a bowl and add curd, salt, ginger and garlic paste, red chili powder, coriander powder one big onion grated. Mix well and keep the marinade for 4 hours.
Soak the rice in water for 1 hour after thorough washing.
Soak the saffron in one cup of milk and use 1 tbsp of the this mixture while frying the potatoes in one tbsp of white oil. Add some water and let the potatoes cook.
Cooking The meat
Now mix 1.5 tbsp ghee and 1.5 tbsp white oil in a thick bottom pan and add a one finely chopped onion. Fry till the onion is brown and crunchy. Remove the onion crunches from the pan and soak it dry on a tissue paper or kitchen roll.
In the same oil add one big onion,grated. Fry till golden and add the marinade. Let the meat cook. Make sure the spices do not burn by giving it a stir every now and then. Halfway through the cooking add 1.5 tsp of Biryani masala and Alu bukharas. Cook until the meat is tender, the gravy acquires a dark golden color and starts releasing oil.
Getting the rice done
In a saucer add appropriate amount of water and boil it with some bay leaves, cloves and star anise. Add the rice and let it cook, When the rice is half cooked cut off the heat, strain it. Remove the spices.
Layering the rice
Coat a thick bottom bowl or handi with ghee and add a cup of hot water to it. Now place half the amount of rice in the bottom of the pan. The potatoes and meat come next, spread it evenly over the layer of rice. Cover it with the remaining amount of rice.
Add rose water to the saffron milk and spread the concoction uniformly over the rice. Also add the gravy of the meat (if any left) or some desi ghee on top and coat it with fried onions.
The final step
This step is the key to a perfectly cooked plate of biryani. Heat a thick bottom ( preferably double the the thickness of frying pans) over stove and place the Handi or bowl containing the biryani on it. Lid the Handi. Place some heavy weights on the handi ( I use stone pestle or stone grinder) so that the steam cannot escape. Reduce the flame to least and cook for at 8-10 minutes. After 10 minutes take off the lid, if you see steam coming out then immediately cut off the heat, if not then place the lid back for another 5 minutes until it is steaming. Cut off the heat and keep the setup untouched for next 10 minutes.
And Bam! You perfect plate of Biryani is done!