Biryani, Pulao, Fried Rice; both Chinese & Indian style fried rice are one of my favorite one pot, one dish meals. If any of these rice varieties are on the menu, I do not need anything else; rather I cannot see any other food on the table. All I need is some riata to go with the rice and it is a feast for me! Even my husband is very fond of biryani & bagara (vegetable pulao) and, I end up cooking these rice varieties very often. Unlike me, husband is only interested in biryani and bagara and I have gradually gotten him hooked on to few varieties of rice prepared with fresh legumes such as shanaga kaya annam ~ green chana pulao & chikkudu annam ~ broad beans (valour lilva) rice. For this week’s marathon, I will share some of my one pot meals under the theme Biryani/Pulao/Rice Varieties.
At my home biryani is always prepared with meats and pulao with vegetables. Biryani is a lengthy process and I personally feel it is not worth the time and effort to prepare biryani with vegetables, when there is an easier preparation with delicious results, which is pulao. I personally feel there is no comparison between vegetable biryani & meat biryani. It is like comparing apples & oranges! Sorry vegetable biryani fans, that is just me. But when it comes to meat biryani, I have a contrary view. It is worth all the time and effort put into the preparation. I am also obsessed with dum biryani, as that is the style of biryani I grew up eating. In dum style biryani, meat & partially cooked rice are arranged in layers and cooked under low heat, until done. During this slow cooking process, flavors of meat are infused into rice and tastes amazing. There are again two varieties of dum style cooking; one is pakhi (cooked) biryani & the other is kachi (raw) biryani. In kachi dum style biryani, marinated raw meat & partially cooked rice are arranged in layers and then cooked until both the rice and meat are well cooked. I follow this method to prepare for chicken biryani & shrimp biryani and this is the method used to prepare biryani back home, both at my place and at my in-laws place. For pakhi biryani, meat is pre-cooked, arranged in layers with partially cooked rice and then cooked until the rice is fully cooked. This is the method I follow to prepare mutton biryani and kheema biryani. The texture of the biryani depends on how long the rice is cooked, before arranging it in layers. And this is the tricky step of the preparation. I confess, sometimes even I mess up this step and end up with a little mushy rice. I do not mean to intimidate anyone here but just saying one has to pay some extra attention when pre-cooking the rice.
Growing up, biryani was always prepared with chicken or mutton (goat or lamb meat). Back then, I did not like mutton so chicken biryani was prepared very often and whenever mutton biryani was prepared, especially during Dasara, I would relish the rice and push aside the mutton pieces. If one is a mutton lover, he/she ought to taste traditionally cooked dum style mutton biryani at least once in their life time. My husband thinks that it is the best biryani and I am gradually beginning to agree with him, ever since I started eating mutton about 10 years ago. Although chicken & mutton biryani are prepared very often at home, I do prepare shrimp, kheema & egg biryani once in a while. I have not tasted fish biryani yet and I have not prepared it either. Shrimp, fish and kheema biryani became popular in last few years and the first time I tasted kheema biryani was 5 years ago at a party in Hyderabad & liked it instantly. If I recall, it was at Minerva in Himayat Nagar. Since then, I make it once in a while at home. The other reason I prepare it is I follow pakhi style preparation; hence I can cook the kheema ahead of time. In fact, when I buy kheema, I immediately cook it with some ginger garlic paste, chili powder, salt, garam masala and freeze it in small containers. This cooked kheema can be used to prepare either curry or biryani. This time when I made it this weekend, especially for the blog, I made everything from scratch. Last time I bought some kheema, I was lazy to pre-cook it and froze it raw. Since I had raw kheema on hand, I wanted to try kachi biryani but decided not to experiment now, as I was preparing it for the BM and did not want to re-cook it, if it did not turn out well. I will try it some other time.
Wow! I am surprised I wrote so much about biryani and I usually struggle to write a few words before getting to the recipe. I guess that explains how much I love biryani! 🙂
Measuring cup used here is the one that comes with the rice cooker, which is 180 ml.
- 1 cup (can use ghee (butter) or ½ oil & ½ ghee)
- 1 medium – large size Onion Sliced
- 3 tbsp. Ginger Garlic paste (if using store bought use less)
- 15 – 18 small Green Chilies cut into two pieces lengthwise
- 1 ½ cup chopped Mint Leaves
- 1 ½ - 2 tbsp. Coriander Powder
- 1 tbsp. Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
- 2 – 2 ½ tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
- Little Turmeric
- 1 – 1 ½ cup Yogurt (can substitute 1 large chopped tomato, aprrox. 1 ½ cups chopped tomatoes )
- 1.7 lbs. / 775 grams Goat or Lamb Kheema (ground meat)
- Garam Masala Powder ( ½ tsp. Cardamom seeds + 10 Cloves + 1” Cinnamon + ½ tsp. Shah Jeera (Caraway Seeds or kala Jeera) +10-12 Black Peppercorns ground to fine powder)
- 1 ½ - 1 ¾ cup chopped Cilantro
- 1 Lime or 2-3 tbsp. Lime Juice
- 4 ¼ cup Rice
- 6-8 Cardamoms
- 4-6 Cloves
- 1 tsp. Shah Jeera ~ Caraway Seeds ~ Kala Jeera
- 1” Cinnamon piece
- 3-5 Bay Leaves
- Biryani Flower
- 1 tsp. Ginger garlic Paste
- 2-3 tsp. Oil
- Hand full of Salt
- ½ cup Milk
- ½ - ¾ tsp. Saffron
- 2 tbsp. Oil
There are three main steps to this preparation; preparing kheema curry, cooking the rice and arranging both kheema and rice for dum style cooking. I will list all the steps separately and then will mention how it can be multi tasked to speed up the cooking process.
- Heat 1 cup of oil in a pot big enough to prepare the biryani, at least 5 quart pot. Once the oil is hot, add sliced onion and fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and keep aside.
- While the onions are frying, wash the kheema and put it in a strainer or a colander to drain the water.
- In the same pot & oil in which onions were fried, add ginger garlic paste and sauté for a minute or 2.
- Add green chilies and mint leaves and sauté for a minute.
- Add coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder and mix well.
- Reduce the heat to low, add beaten yogurt and stir well. This step is very important, as soon as yogurt is added, it needs to be stirred right away otherwise yogurt will break up. Once yogurt is mixed well, increase the heat and cook for a minute or two. This step can be done in step 8 but if using tomatoes, add them now itself. If using tomatoes, add salt, cover and cook until tomatoes are mushy.
- Add kheema and mix well for few minutes. If the kheema is not at room temperature, that is if it was removed right from the fridge, it is very important to mix it well. If not lumps will form. Once the kheema is nicely roasted, cover and cook on high heat for 10 minutes, stirring it in between.
- Keep an eye on the kheema. Add salt (if not added), garam masala and continue to cook it until kheema is well cooked. Add water if required but I did not need to add any water. It will take another 10 – 15 minutes for the kheema to cook. Once it is cooked, add lime juice, ¾th of the chopped cilantro and mix well. By now all the liquids in the kheema will evaporated or there will be very little moisture in it. Cover; reduce the heat to low and let cook until rice is ready to assemble. Usually by the time the kheema is cooked, even my rice is ready to assemble it. It usually takes 25 - 35 minutes to prepare the curry.
- Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes.
- Take milk in a microwave safe bowl, add saffron, microwave it for a minute and keep it aside. Saffron will release its color when soaked in warm milk. This step can be done later too but listing it here itself to avoid confusion.
- 10 minutes into soaking the rice, take a large pot, approximately 4 quart or bigger sauce pan/pot and fill it with water ¾th level and bring it to boil. It takes about 15-20 minutes for the water to boil on my gas cooking range.
- Once the water in the pot begins to boil, add all the ingredients listed under “cooking rice” except rice and boil it for few seconds; ½ - 1 minute.
- Add soaked rice and mix well. Cook the rice until it is 80% cooked. It usually takes 6-7 minutes on my gas stove depending on the brand of rice I use. I always cook it on high. This time it took 6 minutes.
- While the rice is cooking, be prepared to drain the rice. As I mentioned earlier, the texture of the biryani depends on how long the rice is cooked. A minute here and there makes a difference. Have a colander or a strainer ready to drain the rice and also a bowl to reserve some water in which the rice was cooked.
- Once the rice is cooked, reserve ½ cup of water in which rice was cooked and transfer the rice into a colander to drain the water
Assembling & Cooking Biryani:
- Spread ½ the cooked rice on kheema and sprinkle some fried onion, ½ saffron soaked milk and some cilantro.
- Top this layer with remaining rice and sprinkle remaining fried onion, saffron milk, cilantro and 2 tbsp. of oil.
- It is time to seal the pot for slow cooking. Back home, wheat flour dough is used to seal the pot. If using wheat flour, cover the pot with the lid. Make long log of the dough. Use that dough to cover the edges of the pot and the lid. Press the dough lightly to properly seal the pot & the lid so that the steam doesn’t escape when cooking. I once used the dough when I ran out aluminum foil and I think I used 3-4 cups of wheat flour.
- I usually use an aluminum foil to seal the pot to retain the steam. Cover the pot with 2 aluminum foils and put the lid on. Aluminum foil should be little longer than the diameter of the pot. Foils should be sandwiched between the pot and the lid. Since the foil is longer than the diameter of the pan, use that extra foil to seal the pot to retain the steam. Using additional foil, wrap it around the edges of the pot to make the seal tighter.
- Once the pot is sealed, put 2 or three heavy objects on the pot, as shown in the above picture. In the obove picture I have only two objects but I usually put two more heavy saute pans on top of it.
- Cook on high heat for 2-3 minutes until steam begins to escape from the edges. We can hear the sizzling of the kheema from the pot, if you put the ear close to the pot.
- Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for another 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for at least 10-15 minutes.
- Remove the foil, mix well and serve hot with shorva or raita. I served mine with left over chicken shorva and salan (nuts based gravy).
- If not serving right away, when cooking the rice, cook it until 70% done, about 5 minutes and follow the steps as above. Once the biryani is cooked, do not open it until ready to serve. Rice will continue to cook in the steam when it is kept covered and unopened.
- Steps 1-2 kheema curry
- Steps 1 – 2 cooking rice
- Steps 3-5 Kheema Curry
- Somewhere between the above step (3-5 kheema curry), need to do step 3 of cooking rice; put a pot of water to cook rice.
- While the water is boiling, finish cooking kheema and once water comes to a boil follow the rest of the steps for cooking rice.
- Once the kheema is cooked and the rice is partially cooked, arrange the kheema and rice as mention in assembling & cooking biryani.
- If any of these steps are confusing, leave a comment and will be happy to clarify.
Recipes posted this day in 2008: Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani
Event Entries: This Kheema Dum Biryani is making its grand entry into my own Red Meats Feast.