Authentic Awadhi Mutton Biryani (Serves 4; Preparation Time: 1 hour)

When my mom makes Biryani at home, the atmosphere turns festive. There is unbearable excitement in the air. Uncontrolled impatience. The biryani that she cooks is so aromatic, flavorful, and aesthetic that it completely fills up the eater's senses. It's an experience that lingers long after the last grain of rice has been polished away. 

My Nana (maternal grandfather) was a true connoisseur of food. He was himself an amazing cook and never ate anything cooked less than perfect. So he made sure his daughters were trained by the very best too. Mom  received this original Biryani recipe from Khansamas (expert muslim chefs)  whom my Nana used to hire to cook special meals. 


With formal training and decades of practice, mom is truly an expert in making the most delicious biryani with a prefect blend of spices. 


This authentic Biryani is always made with mutton. Never with chicken. This is a moderately difficult recipe that requires you to prepare with attention, focus and all your heart. Bismillah!!




Ingredients

For Mutton Preparation
750 gms mutton
6-7 large/7-8 small onions
100 gms yogurt
2 cloves
1 inch ginger
1/2 tbsp khus khus (poppy seeds)
7-8 almonds, blanched
2-3 green cardamom
2 bay leaves
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp dhania powder
1/2 tsp Kewra water
1.5 tsp salt/salt to taste
2 tbsp Ghee/Oil

For Rice

500 gms rice
20-25 strands of saffron soaked in milk
2 bay leaves
2 cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ghee
Food color - Orange (1/4 tsp)

For Garam Masala

7-8 black pepper
5 cloves
4 green cardamom
1 inch cinnamon stick
A pinch of nutmeg powder
1 tsp shahi jeera (black jeera)
Very small piece of Javitri (mace)

Steps
  • Dry roast and grind the whole spices for garam masala
Rice
  • Boil water and add bay leaves, 1 clove, 1 tsp ghee, rice and salt
  • Boil rice until its just cooked (leave it just a tad under-cooked, so that when we cook it on dum with mutton, it does not get over-cooked). Keep aside
2) Mutton
  • Wash mutton and marinate in whisked yogurt for 2 hours in the fridge; bring the mutton out 15-20 minutes prior to next steps
  • Grind 5 onions, 2 garlic pods, 1 inch ginger, almonds, khus khus (poppy seeds), chilli and dhania powder into a paste
  • In a pressure cooker heat ghee/oil and  fry one onion (cut into thin rings); add ground onion, ginger-garlic paste and saute until golden brown
  • Take the cooker off the heat and after two minutes add the mutton and yogurt that we had refrigerated
  • Mix well and put it back on heat and  saute for about 10  more minutes on medium low, add salt (we take the cooker off the heat before adding mutton marinated in yogurt to allow the yogurt to blend well without curdling)
  • Pressure cook in high for one whistle, lower the heat and cook for 10 more minutes or until the mutton is tender
  • Discard the bay leaves from the rice and mutton
3) Biryani - layering rice and mutton
  • Take 1/4 of the cooked rice in a bowl and add orange color dissolved in water(about 1tsp water); mix well until the rice is orange colored
  • Take a Handi/wide heavy bottomed pan, heat ghee, add 2 bay leaves
  • Take it off the heat, now spread a layer of white rice, sprinkle some colored rice, garam masala,  and saffrron infused milk, over it spread a layer of cooked mutton
  • Repeat the above step, alternating between rice and mutton
  • Put the lid on, seal with atta (kneaded dough) and cook for 15-20 minutes on the lowest heat
  • Cut one onion in rings, soak in milk for 15 minutes, take these onions out and fry until golden brown and crisp (soaking in milk makes onion crisp)
  • Garnish with browned onions, finely chopped cilantro and few sprigs of mint leaves
Put on some good music,relax and enjoy your labor of love with your loved ones!!



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