I remember as a child the build-up and anticipation for Eid was tangible. In particular, I remember the smells that still transport me back to my childhood. The sweet fragrance of cardamon milk wafting through the house together with the gentle simmering of mutton stock with aromas of whole spices like cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves.
Joking aside - now as a parent of three adult children myself, I consciously emulate the flavours and aromas that are synonymous with Eid. I, like my mother, make sweet milky sevia for Eid breakfast and I also prefer to cook with
mutton on Eid. It may take twice as long to cook than lamb but then it has twice the flavour, so it worth the extra time. I always make a rice dish with it, whether it’s a mutton pilau or biriyani? An authentic mutton biryani has many elements to it and takes a while to get right. It’s made with fragrant saffron basmati rice, cooked with layers of tender meat in a tangy, spicy rich masala sauce all topped in fried onions and finished off with slices of boiled eggs. I think this flavoursome and filling dish is rice at its best, I like to call it the ‘Queen of Rice.’ This is truly a regal rice dish that deserves to take centre stage on a celebratory dining table - it does on mine.
Happy Eid and Happy Cooking,
Prep Time: 25mins + 1 hr Resting Time
Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves 8 to 10 people.
TO MAKE THE MEAT BIRIYANI
TO MAKE THE RICE
- Add the rice in a large bowl and wash out the starch. The best way to do this is - add water into the bowl, gently stir with your hand a couple of times and drain the water. Repeat 5 to 7 times, until the water runs clear, then cover the rice in water and soak for 1 hour. (Washing out the starch this way ensures you rice does not stick together).
- In a bowl, add chops, yoghurt, ginger and garlic. Marinate the chops and set aside for an hour.
- In a large pan add the ghee and three onions, fry until they lightly golden brown. Add the chops and brown them off in the onions for a couple of minutes. Add the chilli, salt, garam masala, coriander powder and all the tomatoes. Stir all the ingredients together, cover and simmer for 1 hour. In the meantime prepare the other elements of the dish.
- Using a non-stick pan, add 2 tablespoons of ghee and fry two onions until they are golden brown and slightly crispy. Set aside.
- Boil the eggs for 5 minutes, peel and set aside. Also mix the food colouring with 2 tbsp water in a small bowl ready for step 10.
- Now back to the chops. Turn the heat to high and stir fry the meat in the lovely sauce for 10 minutes. If the sauce sticks, just add a splash of water and carry on stirring. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring periodically.
- Add the tamarind sauce, potatoes, stir in and cook for a further 2 mins. Add 200ml of hot water, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- While chops are simmering, make the rice. In a separate pan add 2 litres of water, salt, cardamon pods, saffron and the oil. Add the drained rice and bring to the boil. Once the water is boing. Gently stir the rice once and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. (We are only cooking the rice to ¾, as it will continue to cook at stage 11. Drain and set aside
NOW TIME TO ASSEMBLE THE BIRIYANI, WE ARE MAKING 2 LAYERS. YOU NEED TO HAVE THE FOLLOWING READY:-1. Masala sauce and chops2. Boiled eggs, halved3. Fried onions4. Lemon juice5. Boiled rice6. Food colour
- Take a large wide deep pan (minimum 30cm diameter x 20cm deep). Add half the cooked chops masala, cover with half of the boiled rice. Make sure it is evenly distributed. Drizzle with a tablespoon of lemon juice and sprinkle half of the fried onions.
- Then add the last of the chops masala over the rice. Spread remaining rice over the sauce evenly. Drizzle the other tablespoon of the lemon juice, sprinkle the other half of the fried onions, add the boiled eggs and finally drizzle the colouring.
- Cover with a lid and simmer on very low of 20 minutes. Make sure the lid is firmly on and there is no space for steam to escape. You need all the steam to remain in the pan, so all the layers infuse properly. (I usually seal mine by wrapping a clean tea-towel around the lid and weighing the lid down with my stone mortar).
PARVEENS TOP TIP
To store your biriyani, use an airtight container and put in the fridge within 2 hours of cooking. The biriyani will stay fresh for up to 4 days. To reheat, take a portion out at a time, heat and eat. Do not reheat more than once.
Biriyani also freezes really well, with no change to the flavour, however take out the potatoes first as they do not taste nice once de-frosted and heated.
About the author
Parveen Ashraf is a passionate foodie, author, TV chef and entrepreneur and newspaper columnist. Her humorous and relatable writing style is always a winner with SaveCo customers and her recipes and blogs are amongst the most viewed pages.