Friday, February 11, 2011

Hyderabadi Katchi Biryani

The Katchi means raw. The raw mutton is cooked very slowly with partially cooked rice for around an hour.

The recipe requires about 1 Kg of fairly large pieces of lamb. The meat must not be very tough, because we don't want to overcook the rice.

The meat is first marinated with ginger garlic paste with some tenderizer for maybe two hours. The tenderizer is not absolutely required if the meat is not tough.

Next cut 1/2Kg onions in slightly thin half circles, and fry it in butter or ghee, till crispy. You will need to add salt to it.

Put half the fried onion along with assorted whole spices (necessary are black (large) cardamom, cloves, and black pepper, as these give a hot flavor. You can also add cinnamon, green cardamom, star anise, if you want a more subtle and softer taste) into the marinated meat. Also add two spoons of coriander seed powder, 1 spoon caraway seeds AND 1 spoon caraway powder in the mix.
Add some green coriander, and green mint leaves.
Also add 2 cups of hung yogurt.
Lastly add some green hot chilli, depending on the sharpness you want.
Also add some red chilli powder for colour.
Also add salt to taste.
Mix all the above in the meat and leave it for further marination for another couple of hours.

Now take 300gms rice (the original recipe called for 1/2Kg, but I prefer the more oily biryani, and lower carb), and keep it in water for soaking. The rice should ideally be a good quality basmati. The basmati rice does not get sticky, it does not break easily, and has a unique smell of its own. It is also a long grain rice which gives a good texture to the biryani. Leave the rice for an hour for soaking, with adequate salt.

Take some of the assorted whole spices used in the above mix fry them in ghee, and pour it over the rice. Don't use butter here, as it will heat to very high temperatures unlike frying onions. This step can be done before the frying of onions, so that the onions will take any extra cumin left in the ghee.

Then boil the rice, till it starts to increase in size. Let it boil for another minute, while mixing it, so that the oil get coated over the rice. Drain out the water and cool the rice with fresh water. We don't want the rice to cook any further. The logic is that the rice cannot start to cook without boiling in water, so this step is important.

Now take a very heavy bottom pan with a very heavy lid. Basically we want some pressure to build in the pan. A pressure cooker would be the ideal device. Put the meat at the bottom of the pan. You have to judge the fat content of the meat. If it is too lean add some butter or ghee to it, otherwise the biryani will come out too dry. You might have to experiment on this aspect. If you don't mind more fat like me then start with more ghee and reduce subsequently.

Over the meat add the half boiled rice, with its own spices. Mix some Saffron in a small amount of milk and pour over it. You could also use turmeric in place or in addition. It makes some rice coloured and some white, giving a nice texture to the biryani.

Now add some more green coriander leaves and mint leaves, and the remaining fried onions over it.

Now cover the pan and cook on a slow heat. Some sort of insulation is required to avoid pressure escaping from the sides of the cover. Traditionally wheat dough is used.

In the beginning the heat can be higher, but once the temperature is attained, the heat must be low.

The temperature is easier to judge with a pressure cooker, just let it build some pressure but not enough that it comes even near to giving a whistle.

After about an hour of cooking, the biryani is ready. The time also depends on whether you started with a high heat or whether the meat is tough. Don't exceed one hour, otherwise the rice will be overcooked. This is why you need meat from a smaller goat. If you don't mind the rice getting overcooked then it is OK. A good quality basmati will not look bad even after overcooking.

The Rice in biryani is cooked from the moisture in the meat and yogurt. There is no water added. You will find that the rice by itself tastes heavenly.

If the meat is not tough and the temperature used is correct then the meat will come out very tender, and juicy.

You will have to mix the meat, fat, and rice, as the rice will be sitting over the meat and fat, before you serve.

For a video look at the following.

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