Mutton Biryani (Kolkata Style)10:20 AM
Everyone is aware of the food crazy Bengalis but what lesser people know is their consciousness of quality when it comes to their favourite dishes. They are simply crazy about certain restaurants that cater to their tastebuds. They almost worship these places that has been enjoying the iconic status for quite sometime. They love and believe in the quality of these places so much that, if faced with a challenge where their life would be at stake, they can vouch on the name and reputation of these restaurants. I wont be surprised if someone takes oath like “I so and so hereby promise on the name of Shiraz’s Biryani that….” Unbelievable but ask any probashi Bangali (who lives outside Bengal) what he is planning to do on his next visit to homeland, with twinkling eyes they would name all the famous eateries they are going to visit to eat their favourite food. The specialties of these restaurants are so exclusive that some only specializes in one product. For example take Golbari, which is a small shop in the by lanes of North Kolkata. Go there on any day in the evening time and you would be greeted with a huge serpentine queue. Believe me or not they gather there only for one product, Kasha Mangsho (Dry Spicy Meat). Similarly, Paradise’s Sherbet, Bedwin’s Egg Roll, Shiraz’s Rezala and many others today enjoy the cult status.
Royal India (now called Royal India Hotel Pvt. Ltd.) at Chitpur is one such restaurant. This is a very old shop, which started in 1905, and they specialize in Lucknowi style cooking. Still after 106 years of its inceptions their Biryani and chanp(spare ribs) are so good that they are considered as one of the best three Mughlai restaurants in Kolkata. Now they also have branches all over India.
Last year when my MIL was visiting she carried some Bengali magazines. On a lazy weekend when I was flipping through the pages I discovered some Mughlai recipes shared by this hotel. I knew it was like a secret recipe being published so without wasting any time I copied it. The process of the Biryani was quite tedious and so I reserved it for some special occasions to cook it for a big gatherings. I had to wait for more than a year to cook this.
Last week it was my Maa and cousin brother’s birthday. To celebrate that I threw a party and invited some close relatives. I cooked their famous Mutton biryani and chicken chanp. The dishes earned such huge praise that I literally blushed. Everyone just licked their plates cleaned and said it tasted exactly like the store bought ones. I was happy and literally blushing. Now everyone have very high regard for my cooking and they are finally convinced that I am one of the best cooks in our family. What else can a girl ask for???
Process wise this Biryani recipe is very different. After the meat is cooked the oil or the rogan is separated from the meat and later that is put on the rice. Actually this was to be cooked in pure ghee but I used part white oil. Here is the detailed recipe. The ingredient list is a big one don’t get intimidated by that. All the items are easily available.
adapted from Royal India; Kolkata’s recipe
Mutton: 1 Kg 200 gms (the quality of meat is very crucial here. Am no Biryani expert but what I understand is very tender meat will not hold its shape when cooked for long. Hubby bought mutton from a 15 –16 Kgs goat, which was cooked beautifully.)
Basmati Rice: 1 Kg
Raw papaya paste: 1/3 cup
Chopped onion: 11/2 cup
Ginger paste: 5 tbsp
Garlic paste: 2 tbsp
Ghee+oil: 200 gms (I used it in1:1 proportion. The dish is traditionally to be cooked with ghee only)
Ghee: 4 tbsp
Curd: 150 gms
Keora water: 1 tsp
Rose water; 1 tsp
Lemon juice: 3 tsp
Chili powder: 2 tbsp
Garam masala: 1 tsp
Biryani masala; 2 tsp
Green cardamom: 3-4 pcs
Cloves; 10 pcs
Cinnamon: 1.5” stick
Mace: 1 pc
White pepper: 10-12 pcs
Milk: 1 cup
Yellow and red colour: few drops
Potato: 4-5 pieces
Chopped onin: 1 cup
Whole-wheat flour dough for sealing the sides.
Wash the mutton pieces and slit each piece at 2-3 places. Rub some salt and the papaya paste. Cover and keep aside for min 1 hour to max 2 hrs.
Beat the curd till smooth and keep aside.
Heat a big pan, preferably a kadhai with 200 gms fat. Add the whole spices (just roughly crush to release the aroma). When it splutter and a sweet aroma comes out add the chopped onion. Fry on medium till golden brown. Add garlic paste and fry till the raw smell is gone. Drop in the mutton with its juice, curd, ginger paste. Mix, stir and let it cook for 30 minutes till oil separates at the side. Keep it covered and from time to time stir it thoroughly.
Warm ½ liter water and pour this in the mutton. Mix, check the seasoning and cover. Check if the meat is soft and cooked, if not cook some more. Mine was done at the end of 40 minutes. If the meat you are using is very hard pressure-cook it for 1 or 2 whistles.
When the mutton is cooked switch off the gas and cover the kadhai. Let it stand for 10 minutes.
In the meantime cook the rice with lots of water, 1 cup milk, a pinch of garam masala and 1 tbsp ghee. Save 1 cup of the rice water. When the rice is ¾ done drain the water and immediately spread the rice on a flat surface like on plates or on a clean piece of cloth. With very light hand mix 2 tbsp ghee to save it from forming lumps. Keep it aside.
Now very carefully take out the oil that settled on the top of the mutton with a ladle. Mix the rice water to it and Keep this aside.
To the mutton and gravy add the limejuice, chilli powder, garam masala powder, keora and rose water, little yellow food colour and if required more salt.
Peel and half the potatoes. Boil the eggs and potatoes with little salt. Peel the eggs. Smear little salt and a pinch of turmeric and fry eggs and potatoes till golden. Keep aside.
Also prepare the birista by frying the onion till brown. Keep aside.
In a big biryani pot or copper handi or a heavy bottom pan spread the mutton with the gravy. Spread the rice over it. Slowly pour the saved oil on rice. Make sure all the rice is soaked with it.
Add more ghee on top. Pour a few drops of yellow and red food colours at several places (do not stir) along with some keora and rose water. Sprinkle biryani masala generously on top along with the prepared birista, place the fried potatoes on top and cover the pot. Seal the sides with whole-wheat flour dough.
Place the pot on a tawa or frying pan. On slow flame cook it for 45 minutes. Give it a good shake once in between.
A Homemaker's Notes:
Make sure the rice is little hard before you take it out from heat. the rice gets cooked in its steam also so properly cooked rice would turn lumpy.
Spread the rice as soon as the water is drained. I used a big clean cloth to spread the rice on.
Once you add the colour, do not stir the rice.
The mutton should be done before you assemble the Biryani. Dont leave it to be cooked in dum.
Be mean while dealing with keora and rose water. Their aroma is very heavy and a little sprinkle is enough.
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