Biryani a dish that supposedly originated as a princely dish and migrated from royal kitchens to commoner’s kitchen or a dish that is described in words of noted author of ‘Biryani’, Pratibha Karan, as God’s food is as enigmatic as any dish could be.
Biryanis require an elaborate preparation that has made it attain a distinction of being a complex dish. Besides the complexity involved in the preparation, what makes the discussion more convoluted is the comparison with Pulao.
Pulao and Biryani both being a rice dishes are relished with equal delight by food aficionados, but when you begin to go deeper to understand the difference between these two dishes, discussion becomes interesting. Eliciting a definite and clear response to the question of differences between these two could prove out to be a herculean task. The dividing line between these two is so fine that often you would find a curious mix-up. However, still if one has to differentiate a Biryani from a Pulao, one could say the magic happens in layering. Biryanis are layered with the rice being the first and last layer and meat, fish, poultry, vegetables occupying the middle layers. There could be sometimes just two layers to a Biryani, and at other times there could be more-alternating between rice and meat layers. Pulao is more of a mashup where the rice and vegetables/meat/chicken are cooked together in one large pot. Chicken or meat stock or water is used to cook the Pulao rice.
Biryanis are also more scented, spiced and flavored than Pulao which are mildly spiced and scented. Though largely these differences hold true but there are some variants of pulao that is made the biryani way and vice-versa.
As if all this wasn’t enough to convolute the debate, there is another layer of complexity involved, a debate about Pakki and Kachchi biryani. These are two prominent methods of making a biryani that differs in their marination and cooking style. The elementary difference being that in Kachchi Biryani meat is marinated for a longer duration and then the marinated meat is layered and cooked with semi-cooked rice on a slow heat in a sealed biryani pot. Pakki biryani has meat almost cooked separately and then finally layered and cooked with almost cooked rice for lesser duration. In the bitter-sweet debate of claiming their supremacy between Awadhi and Hyderabadi Biryani, Hyderabadis are pretty dismissive of Lakhnawi biryanis to the extent of equating the Pakki biryanis of Lucknow to Pulao. Kachchi Biryani is considered to be the ultimate version of biryani- something that purists claim to be the real biryani. Soft, succulent and juicy pieces of meat slowly cooked with rice in its own juices- cooked till perfection. Mutton Biryani must be paired with a subtly spiced raita-Burani Raita
Find more Biryani recipes
Let’ go through the ultimate version of biryani.
- 500 grams Mutton (cut into large pieces)
- 200 grams onions- sliced into lengths
- 250 grams curd-whisked
- 1 cup fresh coriander leaves
- ½ cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 tbsp. Ginger paste
- 1-1/2 tbsp. Garlic paste
- 5 Green Chilies- sliced into lengths
- 1-1/2 tbsp. Lemon Juice
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- 2 tsp Red Chili powder
- 1-1/2 tsp Garam masala powder
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 2 tbsp. Raw Papaya paste (with skin)
- 100 grams Cooking Oil
- 250 grams long grain Basmati Rice (soak in water for 30 mins)
- To add flavors to rice: 2 Bay leaf, ¼th tsp Black Cumin seeds, 5-6 Cloves, ¼th tsp Mace, 4 Green Cardamom, 6-7 Peppercorns, 1-1/2 inches Cinnamon Stick. Black Cumin seeds will be added directly to boiling water. Tie remaining spices in a muslin cloth to form a spice bag. Spice bag is used to extract the flavors of spices into the cooked rice without actually biting into the spices. Pound the spice bag.
- 2-3 tbsp. clarified butter (ghee)
- Few Saffron strands soaked in 2 tbsp. lukewarm Milk
- 1 tbsp. Rose water
- Marinade with raw papaya paste. Rub nicely on the mutton pieces. Add Ginger paste and Garlic paste.
- Let's fry the sliced onions. Heat 100 grams Oil in a pan and add Onions. Fry until Onions become crisp and brown.
- Onions become brown on a medium heat in 10 mins. Allow fried onions to cool down. ¼th of the total fried onions will be used for biryani layering and remaining quantity will be crushed and used for marination.
- In a large bowl, put marinated mutton, lemon juice, chopped coriander and mint leaves, green chilies, fried and crushed onions. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, Garam masala powder, Red Chili powder, curd, leftover oil and salt to taste. Mix well. Cover with a cling film wrap and keep the marinated mutton refrigerated for 6 hours.
- Boil 1 liter water in a large pan. Add 1 tbsp. salt, Black cumin seeds, Spice bag, 1-2 tsp Oil. Allow the water to boil. Remove the spice bag from the pan and add soaked and drained rice.
- Allow the water to boil again. We will cook rice for 2 mins (20%). After 2 mins, switch off the flame, drain the water and spread in a large plate. Meanwhile, we will knead a soft dough to seal the Biryani pot.
- Put the mutton in a biryani pot and layer with rice, chopped coriander leaves, fried Onions, rose water, generous portion of clarified butter and Saffron milk. Cover the lid with dough and seal the pot.
- Keep Biryani Pot on a high heat for 4 mins. After 4 mins place the Pot on an iron griddle (indirect heat) and reduce the heat and cook for 35 mins. Place a heavy weight on the biryani pot. After 35 mins, switch off the heat and give a 15 mins standing time.
- Flavorful Hyderabadi Mutton Biryani (Kachchi) is ready to be served. Biryani can be relished with Burani Raita
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