HaloodieFoodie’s Ultimate Guide to Biryani
Biryani is a popular South Asian dish that has many iterations, however, not all types of Biryani are equal.Sadly, the art of authentic Kache Gosht 'Dum' Biryani has vanished from most households. Most home cooks now prefer the easier 'Pakki Gosht' Biryani, where the meat is partially precooked and then steamed with rice. Sadly, this iteration is just a mix of meat and spice, which is as harmonious as a Hollywood couple!Real biryani is cooked slowly under dum (steam) with raw meat, the Kache Gosht Biryani results in a marriage of flavour and textures with the meat perfectly cooked and the rice steamed in the moisture of the meat. Kache Gosht Biryani is a speciality of the Mughals and Nawabs and is still found in Biryani houses of Hyderabad. Today, I demystify the ancient secrets of the Kache Gosht Dum Biryani and give foolproof tips giving you insight into cooking this amazing celebratory dish.
- 1 large Biryani pot with lid
- 1 cast iron tawa
- large karahi for frying onions or any other suitable pot
First Lamb Marination:
- 2.5 kg lamb shoulder/leg, cut into pieces
- 500 g natural low fat yogurt
- 2 pinches saffron strands
- ¼ nutmeg, freshly grated
- 5 tbsp sunflower oil
- 4 tsp garlic paste
- 4 tsp ginger paste
- 4 tsp green chilli paste
- 5 tsp chilli powder
- 2½ tsp salt
- 5 tsp coriander and cumin mixed powder (3½tsp coriander powder; 1½tsp cumin powder)
- 1½ tsp turmeric powder
Second Lamb Marination:
- 315 g (2 cups) cooked and drained masoor daal; simmer in salted water until soft. Masoor daal is optional! It's a Guji thing, Gujis always find innovative ways to get in their 5 veg a day!
- 250 g fresh tomatoes (pureed and reduced until thick)
- ⅔ of your fried onions (keep ⅓ for layering and garnishing)
- 1 cup mint leaves, chopped
- 1½ cup coriander leaves, chopped
- 15 aloo bukhara (dried plums)
- 1 pack Shan Masala Bombay Biryani mix (Alternatively use your own spice mix including coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder, black pepper, and turmeric powder)
- salt to taste
- red chilli powder to taste
- 4 tbsp dessicated coconut, optional
- 750 g natural yogurt, optional (Mrs HF has started to leave out the second addition of yogurt)
- 1.5 kg premium long-grain basmati, aged rice (approx 9.5 cups rice)
- 12 tsp salt
- 2 large cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 5 cloves
- ½ tsp black pepper pods
- 6 whole cardamom pods
- 12 medium onions, sliced
- fry oil
Chapati Dough Seal:
- 2 cups chapatti flour
- warm water as required
Final Biryani Assembly Ingredients:
- 2½ cm potato slices (for layering at the bottom of the pot)
- coriander leaves, chopped for topping
- ⅓ remaining fried onions
- saffron infused water (10 strands steeped in 50ml warm water.
- fried potatoes, mixed into the rice layers, optional
- Introduction to Biryani:
- What is Kache Gosht Biryani?
- What is Pakki Gosht Biryani?
- Kache Gosht Biryani wins!
- Why is Kache Gosht Biryani, so problematic and difficult to master?Firstly, the meat can remain uncooked and/or tough. Secondly, the rice can easily become soggy.
- Today we will address the major issues that arise cooking Kache Gosht Biryani, including; 1 – Meat sticking and burning at the bottom of the pot.2 – Overcooked and mushy rice.3 – Uneven cooking of the meat.
- We will guide you through the whole process to ensure your Eid day biryani is worthy of the occasion.
- This recipe is for 20+ people. Its an extended family size portion!
- However, you can scale up or down to meet your requirements.
- We use lamb shoulder or leg.
Preparation on the day before cooking the Biryani: Lamb Marination
- Marinate 2.5kg of lamb shoulder/leg in the following spices for 24 hours or overnight.
- The base of a good biryani is fried onions.
- Using a large karahi heat your oil to 180°C
- Secret to fried onions is:Frying at high heat.
- Keeping the onions moving, to ensure even browning.
- Always take out your onions earlier than you think as they will continue to cook under residual heat, even after you have taken the onions out of the oil.
- You want your onions to be golden brown but not burnt.
On the day of cooking the Biryani
- Add a second marinade to the pre-marinated lamb.
- See ingredients below.Note: The desiccated coconut and second addition of yogurt are both optional.
- At home, we use two types of rice.1. Everyday rice (Daal Chawal/Kitchree Kari).2. Biryani rice which is premium long-grain basmati, aged rice.
- We use Mujtabah rice, but you can use any premium long-grain basmati, aged rice.Other noticable rice brands: Kasturi, Barkat and Lubna Sella rice.
- Wash the rice until the water runs clear.
- How much rice?? This depends on your personal preference. Traditional Hyderabadi Dum Biryani is approximately 1:1, so 1kg meat to 1kg rice. However, in affluent western societies we enjoy more meat than our native 'Desi' relatives. We use an approx ratio of 1:⅔ (meat:rice)
How to cook perfect Biryani rice
- One of the major issues cooking Kache Gosht Biryani is getting perfectly cooked rice. The rice is cooked slowly with the meat however, rice may get soggy whilst other parts remain uncooked.
- To get over this conundrum the Moghul khansamas (chefs) would cook the rice to different levels of doneness.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water (1½tsp per cup of rice) to boil. Add sufficient water to cover the rice and have a least 5cm space between the rice and water.Add the dry spices such as cumin seeds, bay leaves, black and green cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves and black pepper pods. Once the water boils, add the drained pre-soaked basmati rice and stir through.As soon as the water reboils, take out ⅓ of the rice. This is 40% cooked rice and this rice layer will sit on top of the kache gosht (raw meat) when the biryani cooks in steam.Continue boiling the rice, after 2 minutes remove the 2nd ⅓ rice, this is the 60% cooked rice.
- Finally, after another 2 minutes remove the final ⅓ rice, this is the 80% cooked rice.These steps are essential in ensuring your biryani rice is perfectly cooked throughout the whole biryani.
A video breakdown of the cooking rice stage
- Bring a large saucepan to a boil.
- Add the dry spices.I'm using lemons in the aluminium pan to stop it from decolourising.
- After the water boils add the drained pre-soaked basmati rice. Stir the rice.
- As soon as the water reboils you will see the first grains of rice dancing to the top of the saucepan.
- This is 40% cooked rice, take out ⅓ of the rice using a colander or sieve.
- Continue boiling the rice, after 2 minutes remove the 2nd ⅓ rice, this is the 60% cooked rice.
- Finally, after another 2 minutes remove the final ⅓ rice, this is the 80% cooked rice.
- Make sure you label the 40%-80% cooked rice. It will help you when you come to layering the biryani.
Layering the meat and rice
- The meat will sit at the bottom, followed by the 40% cooked rice, followed by the 60% cooked rice, and finally topped with the 80% cooked rice.
- The rice layer closest to the meat will cook for the longest, thus it needs to be pre-cooked to 40% to ensure it doesn't become soggy.Then followed by the 60% layer and finally the 80% layer of rice. Following these steps will ensure the biryani rice is cooked perfectly.
- In Kache Gosht Biryani, the meat is firstly layered at the bottom. However, the meat will get direct heat and there is a high probability that the meat may burn.We've developed the following techniques to prevent the meat burning.
- Use a cast iron tawa underneath a heavy-bottomed pot.
- This technique helps to distribute the heat more evenly and effectivily doubles the thickness of the pot.
- Use a layer of potatoes to the bottom of the pot. The potatoes act as a safeguard ensuring the meat doesn't burn.
- Layer 2.5cm thick potato slices across the base of the pot. Then arrange the meat on top leaving a 1cm gap between the edges.
- Layers are as follows:Potatoes > Meat > 40% cooked rice > 60% cooked rice > 80% cooked rice.
- Meat layer on top of the potato layer.
- Add fried onions, chopped coriander and mint in-between rice layers.
- Fried potatoes are optional!
- Add 40% cooked rice and fried onions.
- Followed by the 60% cooked rice and then the 80% cooked rice. Leave a gap for steam.
- Add the final layer of fried onions, chopped coriander and mint leaves. Optionally, add some saffron-infused water.
- Poke vent holes into the biryani using the handle of a large spoon. Add some ghee to the top of the rice. Now we are ready to cook.
Cooking the biryani
- Pre-heat the cast iron tawa.
- Seal the pot by making a large chapati dough sausage and placing it around the edge of the pot then pushing the lid firmly onto the pot, making a seal. Check the seal and patch up if necessary.
- For the first 10 to 15 minutes cook on the highest heat. Then drop down to a medium to low heat for approximately 3 hours.
- After around 2 hours the seal will break and you will see vents of steam leaving the pot. This is a major sign that the biryani is nearly cooked. The smell is intoxicating! Resist the temptation to open and continue to cook for a further 30 to 45 minutes.
- You can see the broken seal, venting in all its culinary glory,
- And it's ready!
- Chalo Kawa!
- The meat is perfectly cooked.
- How large are the meat pieces?
- Can I scale down the recipe?
- Can I use Qurbani meat, such as sheep?
- Why add masoor daal?
- Can we put the meat in other layers too?
- I thought lamb shoulder is gamey? Why are you using the shoulder?
- Can I have a recipe for 1kg lamb please?
- If you are using less rice, the first boil will be quicker.
- are the potatoes in the bottom layer uncooked?
- Do you cook any of the masala before adding to the marinade?
- Can I make this with beef? If so, which cut of beef?
- Do you boil or simmer the rice before adding the rice?
- What dry spices did you add to the rice?