Mutton Biriyani

Let me begin this post by taking 2 minutes to mourn the demise of strawberries for the ongoing season. When I went to New Market a couple of days back I had to return empty-handed. :( Well, not exactly empty-handed, but without strawberries. You get it. What I got instead, among many other things, was a tiny bottle of biriyani essence. Ever since that day, I've been putting a little of that liquid on the back of my palm and smelling it incessantly. So before people started thinking that I was doing drugs and before the contents of the entire bottle went in adorning my palm, I decided to bring them to good use.

Holi was round the corner. What a perfect time to hit the kitchen and try and conquer the Mughlai menace! I'm not the one to play with colours, so the idea of sprinkling some colour on plates seemed perfect for the occasion. Immediately I set about procuring mutton from our patent Park Circus shop. The next 24 hours were spent internalising the recipe, reading the steps again and again and picturing in my mind how the entire process should pan out.

Now the idea of this recipe is not to intimidate you. Of course if you DO get intimidated I won't blame you. It's not for the faint-hearted. If you want to cook something quick and easy, steer clear of biriyani. Order it from Aminia or Shiraz or Arsalan, and your craving will be satisfied. Only if you want to feel the kind of triumph that you might feel after maxing your question paper in your exams after nights of sleepless study or when you score a century in hostile Australian conditions against the formidable attack of McGrath, Brett Lee and Warne after hours of net practice would I advise you to tread down the path of biriyani-making. Don't even attempt it if you don't have a full day to yourself. By which I mean a full day that you'd be willing to spend in the kitchen. You'll fret, you'll sweat, you'll wish you never embarked upon this project...but aah, sweet fruits of labour! Once your biriyani comes out of the dum, you'll feel protective about it like a mother is about her baby. And when your guests would ask for second helpings, you'll thank yourself secretly that you took the pain and nailed the Mughlai monster! I'd like to thank everybody who helped me nail it. Yes, it's that Filmfare kind of moment! :P

Serves: 8-10


For mutton:

Mutton: 1 kg
Ginger, pasted: 2 tbsp
Garlic, pasted: 2 tbsp
Yoghurt: 1 cup
Onions, sliced finely: 2.5
Turmeric: 2 tsp
Salt, to taste
Coriander powder: 2 tbsp
Cumin powder: 2 tbsp
Red Chilli powder: 2 tsp
Garam Masala powder: 1 tsp
Tomatoes, chopped: 4
Green chillis: 2
Oil: 2-3 tbsp

For the rice:

Basmati rice (soaked in water for half an hour and then drained): 4 cups
Cloves: 4
Cinnamon: 2 sticks
Green cardamom: 6
Black cardamom: 3
Peppercorns: 5-6
Mace: 1
Bay leaf: 3-4
Salt: 1 tsp

For potatoes:

Potatoes, cut into halves: 4 big
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Oil, for frying

For assembly:

Onion, sliced: 2
Ghee: 2-3 tbsp
Saffron: a few strands
Milk, warm : 1/2 cup
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Biriyani essence/ rose water: 2 tsp
Coriander leaves: a bunch
Mint leaves a bunch


1. Marinade mutton in yoghurt, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and one tablespoon each of ginger and garlic pastes for at least four hours or overnight.

2. Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Add sliced onions and green chillies. Cook, stirring continuously, till onions are light golden brown. Add remaining ginger paste and garlic paste and mix well. Add marinated mutton and cook on high heat for seven to eight minutes. Add coriander powder, cumin powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Mix thoroughly and let it simmer till oil separates.

3. In a pressure cooker, add chopped tomatoes, salt, garam masala powder, two cups of water and the mutton. Pressure cook till mutton is almost cooked (three whistles). Ensure that the cooked mutton does not have a thin gravy. If that is the case reduce only the gravy on high heat.

4. Cook rice in 12 cups of boiling water along with cloves, cinnamon, green and black cardamoms, peppercorns, bay leaves, mace and salt till rice is almost cooked. Strain and keep rice warm. 

5. In the meantime, heat sufficient oil in a kadai and fry 2 sliced onions till brown and crisp. Drain and keep onto an absorbent paper. 

6. Rub the potatoes with turmeric and salt, parboil them and fry them and keep aside.

7. For assembly: Rub a handi with ghee. Arrange half of the cooked mutton and spread half the cooked rice on top of the mutton. Arrange 4 pieces of potatoes, sprinkle a little of the remaining garam masala powder, fried sliced onions, saffron dissolved in warm milk, gravy of mutton, ghee, coriander and mint leaves and biriyani essence. Spread the remaining mutton on top of the rice, followed by cooked rice and repeat the process. Seal the handi with atta dough and cook in dum, resting the handi over a tawa, for 40-45 minutes on low-medium heat.

8. Once cooked, mix the contents thoroughly so that each strand of rice is coated with the gravy. Serve hot with raita. And don't forget to give yourself a pat on the back for taming the shrew! :)

P.S.: This recipe is an amalgamation of Sanjeev Kapoor, numerous food blogs, my basic knowledge about cooking, my mother's kitchen tips and tricks, especially in the rice department, my jyethi's advice with the aloos and a couple of previous experiences which were so long back that I don't even remember them properly.


Popular Posts