Feasting this Sunday on Goat Biryani!

Sunday is usually reserved for cooking and enjoying long elaborate meals with family. Today's request was for mutton / goat biryani. Biryani is a star gem of Mughlai cuisine with delicate complex flavors and long slow cooking. Its usually enjoyed once a while since its very rich in taste and calories. My home made version is simpler and easier on the stomach but scores equally well on the taste. The ingredient list may seem long and daunting but you can substitute it with whatever you have on hand. Its really worth a try when you have at least an hour on hand and want to make something special for your family and friends.

Serves: 5-6 people

1 1/2 lbs goat meat on bone

3 tbsp thick yogurt
1 heaped tbsp ginger paste
1 heaped tbsp garlic paste
juice of half a lime
1 tsp red chili pdr
2 tsp of Meat masala (or garam masala, both available at Indian grocery stores)

For the rice
2 cups of basmati rice
1 cinnamon stick

1 star anise
4-5 cloves
4-5 peppercorns
2-3 green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
1 tsp kala zeera (black cumin seeds)

2 large purple onions, 1 sliced and 1chopped
2 large potatoes, washed and skinned
1 heaped tsp of cumin pdr

1 heaped tsp of coriander pdr
salt to taste
1 tsp of sugar
handful of chopped cilantro
handful of mint leaves
handful of pomegranate seeds
1 tsp biryani masala
1 tbsp of ghee
2 tbsp of oil
1 tbsp of mustard oil
pinch of saffron
3-4 tbsp of milk 

Marinate the meat and keep aside for at least an hour. This works on the principle of longer the marination better the taste. Sometimes i even marinate it overnight if i decide early.
Wash the basmati rice well and drain the water and keep aside to dry.

In the meantime prepare the fried onions. To make this the onions are usually deep fried but i prefer to swallow fry.
In a large pan or pressure cooker, heat 2 tbsp of oil to medium .
Slice 1-2 onions thinly and spread it evenly on the heated pan. Sprinkle some salt to help cook it faster.The onions will brown nicely. Keep tossing to evenly brown them. This may take about 10 mins. Remove the browned onions and reserve for later.
In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp of mustard oil to smoking temp.
Reduce heat and add in chopped onions. Saute till lightly browned. Add in the marinated meat and sear on high heat.
Add in the cumin and coriander pdr, potatoes, salt and sugar. Lower the heat and cook till the meat is done. I prefer to pressure cook the meat to speed up the process. Don't add any water. This preparation should be dry. Goat meat releases it own oils and the water from the yogurt is enough.
Cook the rice with sufficient water and all the spices till almost 70 % done. Drain the water and keep aside.

Crush the saffron strands and mix them in warm milk to extract its flavor and color.

Assembling the biryani is a key process. The flavored rice and meat are layered and cooked on mild heat enclosed or on "dum" as we call it in India. You can do it on the stove if you have a heavy bottom pan  or in the oven. I prefer to cook it in the oven at 350 F for about 15-20 mins.

To assemble take a large pot or pyrex dish. Coat the bottom with the ghee. Spread a layer of rice evenly through it. Add the cooked mutton/goat pieces.  Cover with another layer of rice. Spread few mint leaves and cilantro. Also spread some of the fried onions. Sprinkle few drops of the saffron milk. Also sprinkle some biryani masala pdr. Keep alternating  the layers till all the meat and rice has been used up. Cover with foil and bake or cook on stove at very lower heat for atleast 15-20 mins.

Keep the biryani in its enclosed /dum style till its time to be served. You can garnish it with more mint and cilantro leaves, pomegranate seeds and/or sliced boiled eggs.

Serve hot and steaming Goat biryani  with a chilled pomegranate raita (yogurt dip)

To make pomegranate raita, take thick yogurt and beat it till creamy. Add in some salt, cumin pdr and chaat masala pdr. Stir in the pomegranate pearls. Mix and chill till its time to eat.


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