Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Mutton Keema Kofta Biryani

There was a time when Biryani for me was the most tedious dish to cook and was only a weekend treat to be eaten outside. With my husband being a great Biryani fan, how could I stay away from not trying out this flavoursome dish at home. My first biryani was almost a year back and it was an instant hit. Although there was room for improvement, it was a good beginning nonetheless. With each passing attempt, my Biryani just kept getting better and better and better. Now I have reached a stage where I have developed my own Biryani recipe from scratch and have included a very interesting twist to it, Koftas!! The idea was originally shared by a fellow foodie on a food group and I developed it from there. The husband was licking his fingers (literally) and the guests (who had to mantain their courtesy being Germans) swiped off the entire bowl squeaky clean. 
Now, I look forward to cooking my next Biryani!! 
For the koftas
500 gms minced mutton
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp grated garlic 
5-6 mint leaves chopped 
1-2 green chillies chopped (optional)
1 sprig coriander chopped 
1 tbsp besan/gram flour
1/2 tsp red chilli powder 
1/2 tsp garam masala powder 
1/2 tsp cumin powder 
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp Salt (approximately) to taste (do not add a lot as the koftas will also absorb masalas from the biryani sauce later on)
2 tsp oil plus extra for frying

For the Biryani Masala
1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds 
4-5 whole red chillies
3 green cardamoms 
1 black cardamom 
3-4 cloves 
1" piece cinnamon 
1/2 star anise 
1/2 nutmeg
1 mace
1 bay leaf
6-7 black peppercorns 

Dry roast all of the above and make a fine powder. 

For the Biryani Sauce
2 medium onions chopped 
3 medium tomatoes chopped 
1 tbsp ginger paste 
1 tbsp garlic paste 
1 tsp caraway seeds/shahjeera 
2-3 tbsp grated paneer
1/2 tsp turmeric powder 
Biryani masala prepared above
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

For the rice
2 1/2-3 cups of Basmati rice, washed and soaked for 20 minutes 
1 medium onion finely sliced 
1/2" piece ginger, finely chopped 
2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds 
2 green cardamom, 3 cloves, 1/2" cinnamon, 1 mace, 4-5 black peppercorns 
1 tsp saffron soaked in 1 tbsp cold milk
Salt to taste but not exceeding 1 tsp
2 tbsp ghee (for maximum taste and fragrance)

For the assembly 
Fried onions and finely chopped fresh coriander 

The first step will be to prepare the keema koftas. 
Wash and drain the keema and put in a food processor. Pulse until a smooth lump is formed. To this add all the remaining ingredients including 2 tsp oil and pulse till a smooth lump is formed and there are no solid bits. Remove from the food processor and take it out in a plate. Now while you heat oil in a wok for deep frying, start forming the balls with your hands. Do not make oversized balls as they might not cook very well then. 
 When the oil is hot, reduce the flame to medium and start frying the balls, 3-4 at a time on medium heat until golden on all sides. Do not fry on high flame as the balls may get browned too soon leaving a raw inside. Drain the excess oil on paper towels. 

Once you are done frying all the balls, start preparing the sauce. For that, heat oil in a pan and splutter the caraway seeds. Now add the onions and fry till golden. Add the ginger garlic paste and fry for another 2-3 minutes till the raw smell disappears. Now add the tomatoes and fry on high till the tomatoes get soft and mushy. Add the grated paneer and the biryani masala and the other dry spices and salt and fry for another 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup warm water and bring it to a boil. Now add the fried koftas, stir to mix and coat everything well and cover and cook on medium low flame for 10-15 minutes.  This is to ensure that the koftas absorb maximum flavors and masala from the sauce which will ensure that they are soft and juicy once assembled. Also, if any of the koftas are not completely cooked, this step will make sure it does. Be very careful while stirring the sauce in between as you may break the koftas. Once the gravy reduces to about 1/4th with mostly the masalas remaining and minimum water, turn off the gas and keep the pan covered as you move on to the next step. 
 Time to cook the rice now. Heat ghee in a pan. Add cumin seeds and the whole garam masala and let it release the fragrance. Now add the onions and fry till translucent followed by the ginger. Add the soaked and drained rice and fry till the rice becomes transparent sonewhat. Add the chopped coriander and stir. Add salt and now if you are using the electric rice cooker, transfer the rice to the cooker and add 5-1/2 cups of water for 3 cups of rice and cook till done. If preparing the rice on gas stove, you can add water directly to the pan and cook the rice covered till just done (about 90%). Do not overcook. 
Once the rice is done, sprinkle the soaked saffron over the rice and stir and let it remain for 10-12 minutes. 
Now the final and most easy step. Take an ovensafe bowl or, a deep bottom vessel (if preparing on gas stove) and put one layer of the rice. If you do not have an oven, you can also do it in the microwave. Now add the biryani sauce along with the koftas. Sprinkle some fresh coriander and fried onions and cover up with the remaining rice.
Sprinkle some more coriander and fried onions on top and optionally a dollop of ghee. Cover tightly with an aluminium foil (if using the oven), a clinwrap (if using the microwave) or a tight lid sealed with atta dough (if using the gas). Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes, if using the gas, with an iron skillet at the bottom to avoid the rice getting burnt. If using the microwave, cook for 7-8 minutes at high. If using the oven, like I did, cook in a pre heated oven at 175 degree celsius for 20 minutes. Keep covered until served hot with raita!


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