Biryani is a quendissential Indian-Pakistani sub-contintal rice based dish which is made with excellent quality basmati rice with the addition of a separately cooked meat, seafood or vegetable curry. It is then fragranced with saffron and traditionally with an infusion of distilled pandanus flowers (but I use rose water) and cooked under steam 'Dam method' for unto 30-40 minutes. Other fragrant items like mint, lemon and 'ghee' - clarified butter is also added.
There are different biryani's all over the subcontinent and Iran and Afghanistan and this recipe is my own recipe with is made with the addition of lentil and using mince meat instead of traditional meat pieces. - and always use fresh whole garam masala available in most Indian or oriental shops —Sumayya Usmani
Whole Garam masala:
stick of cinnamon
green cardamons, pods crushed
each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, aniseed, black pepper and cloves
The other stuff:
1 1/2 cups
flat green lentil
mince chicken, turkey or beef
medium finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons
mixture of ginger and garlic paste
chopped medium tomatoes
each of cumin powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder
To add on top once assembled: 1 green chilli, bunch of fresh chopped coriander and some chopped mint, a few slices of lemons and limes pinch of saffron in hot milk left to soak for 20 min, 1 tbsp of rose water
In This Recipe
Soak rice and lentil separately in tap water for about 30 minutes prior to cooking, then par boil both separately and strain and keep aside.
In a saucepan heat oil under medium heat and fry the whole garam masalas until you can smell them. Now add the ginger/garlic paste, onions and allow to brown, but not burn. Add the salt, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and fry with a splash of water to avoid it from burning.
At this stage add the tomatoes and fry until quite thick and the oil comes up to the top. Add the mince meat and fry constantly until the meat is cooked and dry and all you can see is the oil at the sides on the pan – hence no tomato sauce should be moving around the pan. Add fresh coriander and stir
Once this is done, in the same saucepan layer the lentil and then the rice over the mince, pour the ghee and then the saffron and milk and rose water and place a few lemons and lime slices inside and sprinkle fried onions, mint and fresh coriander and a green chilli on top. Cover the saucepan and place in a medium pre- heated oven for about 20 minutes.
Check to see if rice and lentil cooked through, if not then leave in oven longer. By leaving it in the oven you won’t’ be a risk of burning the rice at the bottom even on low heat on the stove. When it’s done give the biryani a good stir serve with greek yogurt or a mint Raita.
Sumayya is a food writer and cookery teacher who grew up in Pakistan, but has now found home in Glasgow. Sumayya is passionate about sharing the flavours of her homeland with a view to highlight Pakistani cuisine as a distinct one. The author or two cookbooks: Summers Under The Tamarind Tree (Frances Lincoln) and Mountain Berries and Desert Spice (Frances Lincoln, out April 2017), her writing reminisces about food and memories growing up in Pakistan. She writes for many publications, appears on television, and co-presents BBC Kitchen Cafe weekly, on BBC Radio Scotland.