Ingredients (Serves 4)
For the Biryani Masala
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2-3 pieces of green cardamom
1 black cardamom
2 small sticks cinnamon
1/2 piece nutmeg (javitri)
2 pieces mace
5-6 dry red chillies (as per taste)
3 cups basmati rice, washed and dried in a colander
500 gms mutton, washed and cut (I used 300 gms boneless and 200 gms with bones)
1 cup yogurt, whipped
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 sprig mint leaves, finely chopped
1 sprig coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 each of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and star anise
5 medium onions, finely sliced and deep fried until crisp and golden brown (drain on paper towels to remove excess oil)
2-3 tbsp ghee (this is to be used while layering the rice and mutton; use as per requirement)
2 medium potatoes, halved and fried till golden brown
1 big potato, thinly sliced (for layering at the bottom of the vessel to prevent burning)
3 boiled eggs halved
A pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp cold milk (optional)
1+1 tbsp salt
2 tsp meat tenderizer (you can also 2 tbsp grated raw papaya)
1 tsp red food color
1 tsp yellow food color (you may skip to use the food colors and prepare with single colored rice. I just wanted to experiment)
2 tsp kewra essence
Aata dough for lining the lid of the vessel
Marinate the mutton pieces with 1 tbsp salt and keep aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a pan, dry roast all the ingredients given under Biryani masala and let it cool. Then grind to a fine powder and keep aside.
Wash the marinated mutton pieces with water and drain any excess liquid. Now add the yogurt, biryani masala, ginger, garlic, 1 tbsp salt, meat tenderizer/raw papaya, and half of the fried onions. Mix everything well and cover with a cling wrap. This has to be marinated for a minimum of 2 hours. For best results, marinate overnight and keep it in the refrigerator. I marinated it overnight.
In the morning (if marinated overnight) take the meat out and keep it on the kitchen counter and bring it to room temperature. Now start to prepare the rice.
If you are using food color, soak a fistful of rice in one bowl with the red color and another fistful in a bowl with yellow color. Soak the rest of the rice in another bowl for 30 minutes. Start with the red rice and cook till just 60% done. Drain and spread it out on a plate. Now prepare the yellow rice and again cook for 60% doneness and spread it out in the same plate as the red rice. Now cook the rest of the rice.
While making the rice, add the cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise for extra flavor. You can also add 1 tsp of ghee. Within 5-7 minutes of putting the rice on stove top (about 30% done), remove 1/4th of the rice. Drain and keep in a separate plate. This rice forms the base of your biryani. Now cook the rest of the rice till just 60% done. Once the rice is done, drain the excess liquid completely and spread out the rice on the same plate as the colored rice. Mix well and keep aside.
Meanwhile, fry the potato halves and keep them ready as well as the other ingredients for the assembly.
Now its time to prepare for the assembling. Heat a heavy iron griddle/tawa. Take the vessel where you will be putting the biryani on dum. Grease the base and the sides of the vessel with a little ghee on your palm. Now line the botttom of the vessel with the sliced potatoes evenly ensuring minimum gaps. If your vessel is too big, you can use extra potato pieces. Use as per requirement. This is a crucial step as this will ensure that the biryani does not stick to the bottom. I always do this step but for today I miscalculated and was short of potatoes. So I greased the bottom with some extra ghee and that served the purpose as well.
Now, put the first layer of rice that you had kept separately and sprinkle some mint and coriander leaves.
the marinated mutton and sprinkle some more chopped coriander and mint leaves followed by half of the remaining fried onions, fried potato halves, boiled egg halves, and about 1 tbsp of ghee and 1 tsp kewra essence.
Now cover up the meat with the mix of colored and plain rice followed by a last round of coriander, mint, remaining fried onions, 1 tsp kewra essence and ghee.
Now sprinkle the kesar/saffron milk (if using) on top and tightly seal the vessel with the atta dough that you had prepared and close the lid.
Ensure that there are no gaps in the lid through which the steam can escape. Keep the vessel on the hot tawa/griddle and keep the flame at the minimum.
Cook the biryani on dum for about 1- 1.5 hours. You will know that the biryani and most importantly, the meat is cooked when you start getting a lovely aroma from the mini gaps of the lid that will start opening up towards the end.
Continue cooking on the tawa with the flame off until the tawa is warm enough to touch. Serve hot with raita and enjoy this delicious treat with your friends and family.