Its Biryani challenge for this month at the Muslimah Bloggers group. Everyone loves a good Biryani so when it was announced we had to cook a Biryani , I wanted to make something that was related to us. Biryani is a well loved dish at my home, I have eaten Biryani versions at Sri lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and of course the best ones at Karachi ,Pakistan. But one of the first Biryanis I tasted was back home ,here in Male'.
It was long time ago, during Eid , one of my father's distant relatives who lived here in Male' sent us a package of Biryani as per tradition of sending friends and family sweet and savory treats on Eid day. It was so tasty that the taste still lingers in my mind. I tried various recipes from the various local cook books I had and for this challenge I decided to try one I found in this book called Karunayaa nulaa kehkun, ( means cooking without tears) a recipe book compiled by the late Mohamed Amin Didi , who was the first president of our country. A man who according to my mum, worked hard to improve and educate women. In those days there was a girls school called Saniyya, now now as Aminiya and cooking was a compulsary subject . According to the preview on the book the book was made by him as a request by the principal for a compilation of recipes for the students to cook. So he had consulted various established ladies for the recipes. His method of writing is fun and a bit like a maldivian version of Jamie Oliver's method of writing. The first book was published long time ago somewhere in the 1950s, but the one I have is republished one, which was published in 2003. My hubby gave it to me when we got married and its become one of my go to books when looking for old authentic local recipes.
Now this recipe is delicious !!, I was surprised by the addition of saffron but I think biryani is made complete by the addition of saffron.
In the old days the spice merchants made their way across the indian ocean and Maldives is a stop over point. so thats probably where the saffron is coming from and because its so expensive and rarely available its used here in this biryani. The original recipe used Goat meat but I used lamb because I love lamb. Can even use chicken
Recipe : Lamb Biryani, recipe adapted from the book Karunayanulaa Kehkun .
Serves about 4-5
350g Basmathi Rice
300g-350g Lamb meat, cut into bite size cubes, or use goat meat, or small chicken skinned and jointed
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 large onions, sliced
6 dried chillies
3 cloves garlic
4 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp fennel
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 sprig of curry leaves( about 12- 15)
1 (3") pandan leaf, knotted
1 inch cinammon
10 cardamon pods
large pinch saffron
1/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp rose water
1/2 cup skinned peanutts
3 eggs, boiled and peeled and cut into half
about 6 tbsp ghee
First, prepare the spice paste by heating a non stick pan and warming up the spices, coriander, fennel and cumin seeds along with the dried chillies. Just warming, not toasting, just so the flavours come out. Grind to a fine powder.
Rub this mixture along with lime juice on to the lamb cubes, set aside.
Grind the cinnamon and cardamon ( seeds) . set aside.
Finely slice the onions, grind the garlic and ginger together.
In a casserole or saucepan with a heavy lid, heat 2 tbsp of ghee and fry half of the onions till translucent. Add curry leaves and pandan . Add ginger and garlic pastes along with the lamb mixture. Add just enough water , to cover the meat and bring to a quick boil and then simmer covered on a low heat for one and half to two hours.
While the lamb is cooking, prepare the rice and garnishes.
Heat 3 tbsp of ghee, and once its melted add the onions and fry till light golden, remove on to a kitchen paper. Add the raisins and nuts and stir fry till the raisins puff up and the nuts turn golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Set aside
Wash the rice till the water runs clear, and place in a saucepan with water that comes 1 1/2 inches above the rice. Season with salt and cook till the water level is just absorbed, remove from heat , set aside.
By now the meat will be tender, with very little gravy. taste and add salt . Remove from heat. If there is too much gravy remove the lid and simmer a few more minutes.
Mix saffron with the hot water and leave for 10 minutes, then add the rose water and set aside
Take a large casserole or cooking vessel, a little oil , about 2 tbsp, and a layer of rice. sprinkle with a few tablespoons of the saffron mixture.Then on top spread half the curry. Then arrange some of the egg and fried onion and raisin mix. Then again layer of rice, a layer of curry, remaining eggs and then the last layer of rice. Sprinkle the remaining saffron water on the rice, top with remaining fried onion and nuts and ( if available some fresh mint leaves). Dot with remaining tablespoon of ghee and cover with foil. Place the lid and place the biryani in the oven ( which has been preheated to 180 degrees C) for 30 - 45 minutes. Keep in the middle shelf. If cooking on stove top, place a large frying pan on top of the stove top and then place the briyani pot on top. Cook over a low heat. The frying pan prevents the bottom from burning.