Biryani originated during the Mughal era in India and has been ever so popular since then. In fact, every region in India developed a distinct way of preparing it. One of the most popular biryani destinations is Hyderabad (the land of the Nizam monarchy), which is famous for its dum style of cooking in a sealed container over a slow flame. If you ever visit this city in India, you will find it lined with a number of restaurants serving biryani.
I really can’t think of anything that can replace a plate of biryani. The choice of rice is very important for the taste and feel of biryani. A rice grain that stands out and does not lump up after cooking is best. I usually use basmati rice for this. Biryani can be made with different meats, eggs and even vegetables. For this recipe, I’ve used lamb; it is cooked with a delicious medley of aromatic and flavored long-grain rice mixed with fresh herbs and crispy fried onions.
2 lb (907 g) lamb pieces, bone-in
1 cup (285 g) Greek yogurt 4 tsp (8 g) green chile paste
2 tsp (6 g) ginger-garlic paste
¼ cup (60 g) crispy fried onions
2 tsp (4 g) ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
4 tsp (8 g) Kashmiri red chile powder
1 tsp garam masala spice blend
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp (11 g) salt
2 tbsp (30 ml) fresh lime juice
½ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
1 cup (160 g) thinly sliced onion
2 tbsp (4 g) chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp (4 g) chopped fresh mint
2 cups (370 g) uncooked basmati rice
2 bay leaves
4 black peppercorns
2 black cardamom pods
2 green cardamom pods
1 tbsp (15 g) ghee
4 tsp (22 g) salt
2 tsp (6 g) ginger-garlic paste
2 tsp (5 g) green chile paste
2 to 3 drops kewra water (see Note here )
¼ cup (60 ml) milk
Pinch of saffron, soaked in 1 tbsp (15 ml) water
½ cup (60 g) crispy fried onions
2 tbsp (30 g) ghee
1 recipe 5-Minute Cucumber Mint Raita , for serving
Wash the lamb with water and drain away any excess water. Place the lamb pieces in a large bowl along with the Greek yogurt, green chile paste, ginger-garlic paste, crispy fried onions, coriander, turmeric, Kashmiri red chile powder, garam masala, cumin, salt and lime juice, and mix everything well. Marinate the lamb for at least 2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
To cook the lamb, heat the oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onion and fry, stirring frequently, until the onion turns golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Once the onion is browned, add the marinated lamb along with the remaining marinade in the bowl, increase the heat to high and fry, stirring regularly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Now, add 1 cup (240 ml) water to the cooker and close the lid of the cooker. Pressure cook until 1 whistle sounds, then lower the heat to low and cook for another 20 minutes. Remove the cooker from the heat and let the pressure release naturally. Once the pressure is released, open the lid of the cooker. Place the cooker back over high heat and cook until most of the water is evaporated evaporated from the lamb. Add cilantro and mint and mix well. Put the lamb aside.
Make the rice: Wash the rice two or three times with water, or until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in 6 cups (1.4 L) of water for 40 to 45 minutes. Then, heat 8 cups (1.9 L) of water in a large pot. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, black and green cardamom pods, ghee, salt, ginger-garlic paste, green chile paste and kewra water to the pot and bring the water to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot. Cook the rice until it is 90 percent cooked, which means that there should be a very slight bite to the rice. It will take 8 to 10 minutes for the rice to come to this stage. Once the rice is cooked to this stage, drain the water and set the rice aside.
Assemble the biryani: Transfer the cooked lamb to a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Top it with the cooked rice. Sprinkle the milk, saffron and its water, crispy fried onions and ghee on top. Now, cover the pan tightly with a lid and heat it over very low heat for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest for 10 minutes. Then, remove the lid and gently mix the lamb pieces with the rice, using a large ladle. Serve with the 5-Minute Cucumber Mint Raita.
Alternatively, to make this recipe in an Instant Pot, use the sauté setting to cook the lamb before closing the lid. Then, pressure cook on high pressure for 20 minutes, followed by natural pressure release.