Monday, January 10, 2011

Malabar Biryani

 I often get the comment, "You must be finding it very cold here as India has tropical climate and has no snow."  To which I say, "India has snow and deserts.  India has beaches and plateaus.  We have it all".  I lived in India 21 years before I got married and have still not seen much of this beautiful country.  The cultural and religious diversity adds beauty to the already geographical diversity of this country.  To add to this potpourri of diversities, we have the food and tastes that are so varied from one region of India to the other.  Take for example a simple curry – in Maharashtra it would be full of spices and aromas, in Gujarat a tinge of sweetness would be added.  The same curry would be full of coconut in Kerala and in West Bengal a distinct taste of mustard would be present in it.  I remember having a curry in the UK and it had tinned sweet mango purée in it.  I am still looking within India to find that sort of curry...I doubt I would ever find it.

Malabar is a region in the south of India that is famous for its beaches.  This seasoned rice or biryani is prepared in the Malabar way.  You will find several ways of preparing biryani, each specific to a region or to the ingredients used in the dish.  The biryani below is less spicy than the norm with other biryanis.  

Onions, lamb and poppy seeds & coconut mixture
Preparation Tine:  1 hour
Serves 8


1 kilo mutton/lamb
1 kilo long grained basmati rice
500 grams red onions
50 grams ginger
50 grams garlic
2 green chillies
3 teaspoons coriander powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon red chilli powder
300 grams tomatoes
Onions, raisins, cashew nuts, coriander and mint
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
½ fresh coconut, grated
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup mint leaves
1 cup yoghurt
4 tablespoons lime juice
5 tablespoons sunflower oil
50 grams cashew nuts
50 grams green raisins
2 teaspoons garam masala
Salt to taste

  1. Cut and clean the mutton/lamb in reasonably large pieces. 
  2. Slice the onions and keep aside.  
  3. Grind the green chillies, ginger and garlic into a paste.  
  4. Grind the poppy seeds and coconut gratings separately and keep aside.  
  5. Chop coriander and mint leaves and keep aside.  
  6. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a thick bottomed vessel.  
  7. When hot, add ¾ of the sliced onions and fry till transparent.  
  8. Now add the ginger-garlic and chilli paste and fry for another 3 minutes.  
  9. Add the coriander, turmeric, chilli and garam masala powders and sauté for 5 minutes more.  
  10. Add the chopped tomatoes now to the vessel and let it cook for another 5 minutes.  
  11. Add the mutton/lamb and fry for about 10 minutes more.  
  12. Now add the salt and yoghurt and cover the vessel and cook on low flame for about 20 minutes.  
  13. When the mutton is cooked, add the poppy-coconut mixture and stir and keep on flame for another 5 minutes.  Keep this aside. 
  14. In another vessel, add the remaining oil and fry the remaining onions till brown and crisp.  Keep aside. 
  15. In the same oil, fry the raisins and cashew nuts till brown and keep aside.  
  16. Wash and soak the rice in a vessel for 10 minutes.  Water should be double the quantity of the rice.  
  17. Keep rice on flame and add salt.  
  18. When the rice is ¾ cooked, take out from fire and drain the water.  Keep the rice aside.  
  19. In a big vessel, pour some of the rice and spread a little of the mint and coriander leaves, lime juice, fried onions, cashew nuts and raisins.  Put a layer of the lamb/mutton over that and repeat the process till all the rice and meat are over.  Preferably make three such layers.  
  20. Keep this vessel, covered, on very low flame for 10 minutes.  
  21. Now heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and pour over the rice-meat mixture and cover and keep for another 20 minutes.  Serve hot with salad.

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