Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Lamb & Potato Biryani

Lamb Biryani
Mum's Yakhni Pulao made with mutton or lamb was unforgettable. It was quite a complicated recipe, but unfortunately, there is no record it. I've tried to reproduce it to the best of my ability, and this attempt tasted quite delicious.

My pressure cooker came in handy to pre-cook the pieces of meat, but this step could also be done on the stove top. It would just take an hour or longer instead of 20 minutes in the pressure cooker. 

Shan pulao/biryani masala mix, available in Indian markets, contains a mix of spices that give biryani its distinctive taste and aroma. I used a tea strainer to sprinkle the spices over a plate. That leaves all the solid spices in the strainer which I use for tempering, remove from the oil and enclose them in a tea ball (or cheescloth tied with kitchen string is a good substitute) which is tossed into the saucepan to cook along with the biryani.
Packaged Birista

Bottled Birista
Birista or deep fried onions are an essential garnish for both pulaos and biryanis. They're easy to make but is a tedious and long process. Much easier to pick up a bottle or package of birista at the Asian markets.

Fuji Apple Raita

CucumberTomatoOnion Salad
Biryani is pretty filling as a main course, but is great paired with a raita or simple salad. The grated fuji apple raita on the left is dressed with yogurt and a tempering of raisins, mustard seeds and curry leaves. On the right, a simple salad of cucumber, tomatoes and onion is dressed very simply with salt and lime juice.

2 cups aged Basmati rice, rinsed and drained
12 baby potatoes, boiled for 15 minutes, drained, peeled and left whole
4 onions, sliced in thin crescents

1-1/2 lbs. baby lamb/goat leg, cut in bite-size pieces and marinate for 20 minutes with
  • 1 tsp. ginger paste
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. Kashmiri mirch/paprika/chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. saunf (fennel) powder
  • salt to taste

1 (14 oz.) can beef broth + 1-1/2 cups water, set to simmer
2 + 4 Tbsp. mustard or vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. hing/aesefetida powder
3 bay leaves
1 (6 oz.) tub plain Greek yogurt, whipped
2 Tbsp. Shan pulao/biryani masala mix
1/2 cup deep fried onions (a.k.a. birista)
2 tsp. ghee

  1. Marinate lamb pieces in next 5 ingredients.
  2. Sift pulao/biryani masala in a tea strainer over a plate and set solids aside.
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a pressure cooker or skillet over medium-high heat, brown potatoes and set aside.
  4. In the same skillet, heat remaining oil, sputter sifted solids from pulao/biryani masala, remove solids from oil, enclose in a tea ball or tie in cheesecloth and set aside.
  5. Stir-fry hing until golden-brown and sputter bay leaves.
  6. Add sliced onions, stir-fry until translucent and add lamb pieces, stirring well and bring to a simmer.
  7. Cover pressure cooker and bring up to full pressure over high heat.
  8. As soon as it comes to full pressure, lower heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes.
  9. Allow pressure cooker to depressurize (takes 10-15 minutes) before opening the lid.
  10. Transfer lamb to a large sausepan along with fried potatoes.
  11. Add whipped yogurt and stir well.
  12. Scatter drained rice over lamb and potatoes, sprinkle with sifted pulao/biryani spices and pour simmering broth around the edges (do not stir).
  13. Submerge the tea ball or cheesecloth bundle into the saucepan.
  14. Bring to a boil, cover saucepan and simmer over low heat for 25 minutes.
  15. Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes before opening lid.
  16. Garnish with ghee and birista and serve with a salad or raita.

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