Biryani - 28 December 2010 - Page 1

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Biryani, its like Risotto but tastes nothing like it

The other day I made Risotto, tonight I make Biryani. The concept is familiar except Biryani is a lot browner and tastes very different.

Here are all the ingredients. There are lots.
Spices include cumin, garam masala, green cardamom, bay leaves, cinamonn quills, fresh coriander, fresh mint, garlic, ginger...your basic Indian set of spices, oh and also ground fennel seeds, which is a bit more authentic than most Australians are used to.
I am using lamb, but you can also use chicken, beef, goat, snake, vegetables, horse. Anything can be Biryani'd. In India, apparently crow is quite common at truck stops.

Here is the lamb, marinating in some oil, with ground ginger, garlic, and spices. The longer you leave it the more bacteria will form, the more rotten the meat will become, and the more flavoursome it will be.

My mixture some time later, now semi rotten, not too rotten, perhaps not rotten enough, but rotten none the less.

Now, find your big flat pan, and fry up some onions, ghee would be better but gives you heart cancer. Add to this the bay leaves, cardamom and cinnnamonnn quillls.

After a while, or after its burnt and you are mad, add some chopped tomatoes and green chillis. Stand over the frying chillies and breath in the fumes. Do this often enough and police pepper spray is no problem.

Next up, add the meat. Brown it. Brown is one of the main flavours of Indian food. Another common flavour is yellow.

Here I have added some roughly torn mint and coriander, but not all of it, as we will use some later.

Now we add some vegetables, carrot and grean beans here. Vegetables are important because they attack free radicals and charge them admission that is too much for anyone to pay so instead they go home defeated.

Final vegetable I have added is cauliflower, so the 3 colors are orange, green and white, these are the colors of the Indian flag. Hence I have made real Indian Biryani.

Now I am adding all my dry spices, never measure anything as that would ruin the surprise.

I like to leave the heat on full and risk burning everything and having to throw out my pan. occasionally add just a tiny amount of water and clean the burnt bits (flavour) off the bottom of the pan.

After about 20 minutes of vigorous stirring, empty the pan out into something, not the bin, some sort of container to set the food aside. Then, dont clean the pan, add some rice to it (No idea how much I just tipped in until it was enough). Add some water and stir about again.
Note the burnt stuff still in the pan, this flavours the rice.
Some people do 50/50 plain rice and saffron rice, but since saffron costs more than gold and has no taste, I dont bother.

Here the rice is half ready, so stop cooking it immediately. You dont want to cook it properly, its important that it remains crunchy and horrible at this stage because we will keep cooking it in the oven.

Go find your oven dish with a lid that fits properly, I am sure you have one.
Put the meat and vegetable mix in the bottom, you should probably oil it first to.
Pack it down tight.
Now put some of the dirty rice mixture thats half cooked on it and spread it out.

Now add the remaining coriander and mint, and also some spinach, and anything else green you can find.
Then put some yoghurt on this, if you are an elitist you can call this curds. Its probably a good idea to use plain yoghurt rather than chocolate coffee flavoured or something like that, but you never know, maybe chocolate biryani is good!

Top it off with more rice and pack it down hard, this is important because my oven dish is too small and it wouldnt fit otherwise.
Seal the lid, the correct way is with a ring of dough, failing that a special soaked cheese cloth thing, failing that, aluminium foil, failing that dont even bother sealing it!
I went for the last option.
Stick it the oven on about 200C and forget about it until the smoke detector goes off....actually dont do that, leave it for about 30 minutes.

Heres one I prepared earlier, or 30 minutes after the last photo.
You cant really tell from looking, but the rice is now cooked, the yoghurt and curry sauces have combined and bubbled through the mixture using the awesome power of steam, and the flavours have intensified into a menagerie of awesome.

Finally, serve it on a plate.
A healthy filling serve of lamb biryani.


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