Serves a Crowd

Ambur Star Mutton Biriyani

March  5, 2019
Photo by Lena Philips
Author Notes

My best friend and I have been on a quest for the past 2 months to make the ultimate biriyani. After making at least 12 batches, this is the recipe that we finally figured works well. This is based on the recipe from Ambur Star is a famous biriyani restaurant outside Chennai, in India. Having made this for my cousin who grew up eating that biriyani, she said that this was the closest to the biriyani she remembered from her childhood. Yes, this recipe takes time, but the end result is totally worth it.

Dagod phool, stone flower, or kalpasi is a type of lichen that is sometimes used in Indian food. Flavor-wise, it seems like the umami of South Indian food. You can find it on Amazon. One jar will last a lifetime. As for the goat meat, try to get goat leg meat. It has far fewer bones and makes for a much more enjoyable eating experience. —George Philips

  • Prep time 40 minutes
  • Cook time 2 hours
  • Serves 6-8
  • Masala paste
  • 3 inch ginger, chopped
  • 20 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 10 Thai green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon dagad phool, also goes by stone flower or kalpasi
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 5 small pieces of mace
  • Goat curry
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 10 Kashmiri red chilies or bydagi red chilies
  • 4 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 250 grams thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 tomatoes, small to medium size
  • 2.75 teaspoons salt (not kosher)
  • .5 cups loosely packed mint
  • .5 cups loosely packed coriander
  • 2.25 cups water
  • .5 cups yogurt
  • Juice from 1/2 a lime
  • 2 pounds bone-in goat meat, leg preferable
In This Recipe
  1. Wash rice until water runs clear and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Grind all the dry spices for the masala paste together (mace, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, star anise, stone flower)
  3. Grind all the remaining ingredients for masala paste separately (ginger, green chilies, garlic). Add water as needed to help make a smooth paste
  4. Pour the dry spice powder into the ginger-garlic-chili paste and grind until well combined
  5. Roughly chop the tomatoes, coriander, and mint.
  6. Stem and deseed red chilies. Soak them in boiling water for 20 minutes, then grind into a paste.
  7. Whisk together the water, yogurt, lime juice, 1 tsp salt, and Kashmiri chili paste
  8. Heat peanut oil and ghee together in a pressure cooker. Slice shallots and fry with 1/4 teaspoon salt until deeply caramelized.
  9. Add the masala paste and fry for 5 minutes
  10. Add the chopped tomatoes, coriander, mint, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook for 3-5 minutes
  11. Add the water-yogurt mixture and goat to the pressure cooker
  12. If using an Instant Pot, pressure cook on high for 26 minutes and quick release the pressure
  13. After the pressure has finished releasing, remove the goat pieces from the pressure cooker. Pour all the liquid and remaining solids (but not the goat) into a dutch oven, and add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.
  14. Bring liquid to a boil. Add the rice and goat, and cook on medium for 4 minutes
  15. Uncover and mix well. Cover it again and cook on low for 10 minutes.
  16. Move dutch oven off the burner and let steam, covered, for 20 minutes.
  17. Fluff and let cool for 5 minutes uncovered before serving

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