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Beat off the Diwali Blues with a Biryani Fest!

Ankita Vaidya
Written by Ankita Vaidya
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The best part of being an Indian, undeniably, is the unending festivity. While we barely wrap up one festival, there’s another one waiting just around the corner. I feel like, for the last two months or so, we have had enough excuses to break our diets. Itstarted with Shravan month and the cultural celebrations, then came Ganapati. Followed by that was Dassera and within a fortnight or so after Daserra is Diwali. Now that Diwali is over, a lot of us are going through, what we call,Diwali blues!
Yes, it’s a thing. That first office/school/college day after mini Diwali vacation is kind of rough! If I could have it my way, that day would be a national half working day, just saying!
Anyway, we are here to cheer you up! Diwali might be over but there is Eid around the corner. And that means its Biryani time! A little trivia on Biryani here. As we all know Biryani is a Persian dish that came to India with the Moughals. Thanks to their commitment and the desire to flourish all over India, Biryani has become as native to India as Taj Mahal.
Every nook and corner of India has its own variations of Biryani. What changes is the type of rice, meat and a few spices here and there. The idea still remains the same, a complete meal with rice, meat, nuts and spices.
Hyderabad and Lucknow give each other a tough competition over the Biryani Central title. Hard to tell which ones better. Honestly, there is no competition here. The climate, the soil, all of geography is so different that there is no comparison. At the end of the day, both Lucknowi andHyderabadi Biryanis hold a special place in my heart.
Biryani was not just Nawab’s favorite. It is believed that Kings who were foodies (like all of us here), especially the RajputKings, had these special Chefs in their Shahi Khansama brigade who would travel miles around the nation to get the best Biryani recipe for their master. Then spent hours mastering it, only because their master deserved the best of the best!
Gone are those days where these Chefs travelled from valleys of Kashmir to backwaters of Kerala looking for saffron, cumin and peppercorns! Also, gone are the royal days where one person’shukum meant the world to thousands. Today, the wives and mothers struggle feeding the husbands and the kids, sometimes even trying to match their likes and dislikes. One thing hasn’t changed and that’s our love for this dish.
I am not sure what the occasion was, but I remember this hole-in-the-wall place opposite the Nooridarga in Thane where we ordered mutton biryani from. He delivered in a huge huge stock pot and unlike other layered biryani, this wasn’t. Apparently that style of Biryani is called Kacchi Biryani as in raw biryani- raw rice and meat cooked together. It’s a skill to have both of them cooked perfectly, at the same time. So, here’s my take on the recipe for Miyaji ki Mutton Biryani.

Ingredients

800 g mutton/ goat meat
1 large onion, sliced
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
½ cup yogurt
1 tbsp Turmeric
2 tbsp Kashmiri red chili
3 tbsp Biryani spice
Salt800 g Basmari rice
2 bay leaves
2 black cardamom
2 pinch Saffron1 cup ghee
3 medium potatoes, slicedBiryani spice:
¼ cup coriander seeds
4 inch Cinnamon
6 cloves
12 peppercorns
14 green Cardamom, shelled (save the shells)
2 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp Nutmeg powder
6 to 8 dry plums

Method

1. Biryani spice: Dry roast all the ingredients except dry plums. Powder them in a spice grinder and your biryani spice is ready. Add the dry plums(whole) to this powder or you may keep it separate.
2. In a large pot,marinate the meat with turmeric, ginger garlic, red chili powder, biryani spice and salt. Cover and keep in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
3. Rinse Basmati rice in cold water and soak it for minimum 2 hours. Have enough water to just barely cover the surface of the rice.
4. In a large pot, add half cup ghee. Start with sauteing bay leaves and onions. Turn the onion brown by sauteing them over low heat. Then add the mutton and mix well. Put a lid on and cook for 7 to 12 minutes. Add water just enough to cover half the meat. Put the lid back on and cook on low heat.
5. In another big stock pot, heat ghee and line the bottom with raw potato slices. When the meat is half done, usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the quality of meat, transfer it to thisanother pot with potato slices.
6. Then add the soaked rice on top along with the water that was used for soaking. If needed, add a little more water but don’t let the rice swim in meat juices.
7. Add roasted saffron threads and black cardamom pods now and put a lid on. You may now seal the lid with dough and put burning charcoal over top or cook it over charcoal or woodfire. Or just on gas stove, on low heat.
8. It may take anywhere between 40 min to 60 min to get things ready.
9. When ready add fresh chopped coriander as garnish and serve it with a nice cooling raita on side!!
10. P.s. potatoes are essentially layered to prevent burning of the meat. You may or may not choose to eat them.

There are 50+ other varieties of biryanis found all over India. So let us know which ones your favorite and why! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #metime. Cheers, and Eid Mubarak!
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About the author

Ankita Vaidya

Ankita Vaidya

A computer engineer on paper, chef by profession! Being born in a gastronomically enthu household was sheer luck and definitely some good karma. I left India at the age of 22 with 3 suitcases full of parents’ love, passion and determination to chase my dreams.

A connoisseur of Indian cuisine, I enjoy sharing my love for traditional Indian cooking wherever I go. Nurtured with extreme affection, this ‘lil princess’ is all set to touch millions of hearts with her holistic zeal for food and cooking.

I believe life is like a box of spices- though some moments may seem overwhelming, a thoughtful use and correct application will definitely give you extraordinary results. Feel free to share food related anything with me ‘cause I am a student for life!

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