Mangalorean biryani

  • 1 kg beef or mutton on the bone
  • Juice of 1/2 lime (optional - use while cooking the meat)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi) (optional - use while cooking the meat)
  • Fistful of chopped coriander leaves (optional - use while cooking the meat)
  • 5 big onions sliced
  • 6 juicy tomatoes thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup of coriander leaves chopped
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 3 cardamoms
  • 3 cloves
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee for frying
  • For the rice 
  • 600gm / 3 cups basmati rice * see notes
  • 2 inch cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cardamoms
  • Salt to taste
  • For the masala (to be ground)
  • 8-10 green chilies *see notes
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds (badashep/saunf) * see notes
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 whole pods garlic peeled (Indian variety)
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp mace (javithri) flakes
  • 3-4 star anise (chakri phool)
  • 1/2 nutmeg (zaiphal)
  • 1 packed cup of mint leaves
  •  To be ground separately
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds (khus khus) (substitute with 1 tsp grated coconut if khus khus is not available)
  • 5 almonds (badam) soaked in hot water and skinned
  • For the layering
  • 3 onions finely sliced
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1-1/2 packed cups of coriander leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 pinches saffron strands soaked in 3 tsp rose water or milk
  • 2 tsp Garam masala (optional)
  • 15-20 whole cashewnuts
  • 20-25 raisins/kishmish
  • 2 tsp ghee (to grease the pan)


A) Cooking the meat
1. Cut the meat into medium size pieces, wash and allow to drain on a colander for 10 minutes.
2. Transfer into a pressure cooker and sprinkle water up to the level of the meat. Add salt to       
     taste. Add lime juice, turmeric powder & fistful of coriander leaves
3. Cover & cook on a full flame until the first whistle goes off (takes about 8-10mins). 
4. Reduce the flame to sim and continue to cook for 20-25mins in the case of beef. If you are 
    using mutton, follow the same procedure till step#3 and then cook for about 13-15 mins if the
    mutton is tender. 
5. Allow the pressure cooker to cool down completely before removing the weight (whistle). Mix     contents once and keep aside.

B) Preparing the garnish
1. Heat 4 tbsp ghee in a wide heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions till golden brown, drain           & keep aside. 
2. To the same ghee add cashewnuts and fry till golden brown n drain n keep aside. 
3. Turn off the flame and add the raisins n take it immediatly or else it will burn.

C) Preparing the masala
1. In a large pan (or use the same pan that was used to fry the garnish) heat 2 tsp ghee.  Toss       in the whole spices (garam masala) and fry for a minute. 
2. Add onions and fry till golden brown. This will take about 4-5 minutes. 
3. Add the sliced tomato and fry for 2 mins on a medium high heat and reduce the flame a bit         and continue to fry until the oil separates from the masala.
4. Add the ground green chilli masala, fry for about 4-5mins
5. Add the pre-cooked beef/mutton, adjust salt to taste and add the meat stock in parts. Allow       to boil till meat is tender. Don’t make a watery gravy but use up stock to make a thick gravy.
6. Add the almond paste to it n boil again 4-5 mins. Add chopped coriander leaves on top of it. 
    Turn off the flame after a couple of minutes 

D) Preparing the rice 
     Using the draining technique (where rice is partially cooked, layered with meat and then    
     placed on 'dum' till it is fully cooked)
1. Wash & soak the basmati rice in water for 15mins. 
2. Boil rice in plenty of water along with the whole garam masala. Cool al-dente (3/4th done). 
3. Drain and keep aside until required


You can prepare the rice using the absorption technique (where rice is fully cooked and then layered along with meat)
1. Wash & soak the basmati rice in water for 15mins
2. For 600gms (3 cups) rice use a little less than double the quantity of water. ie 3x2 = 6 cups of     water minus 1/2 cup = total of 5-1/2 cups of boiling water. 
3. Heat 2 tsp of ghee in a large enough pan to accommodate cooked rice, add the washed &         drained rice and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the freshly boiled water. Adjust salt to taste       and add juice of 1/2 a lime. You may add 2 bullion (stock) cubes for an additional flavour. 
4. Bring the water to a rolling boil, stir and cover the pan with a tight lid. Reduce flame 
    completely and continue to cook for 6 minutes. Turn off the flame and let the rice cook in the 
    steam. Open the lid after 3-4 minutes and fluff up with a fork. Cover & keep aside till required.

E) Assembling
1. Brush the base and sides of a large wide vessel with 2tsp ghee. Place one third of the meat        as the first layer.  Add a one third of the of the rice over the meat. This is the second layer
2. Sprinkle one third of the fried onions, cashewnuts, raisins, a few coriander leaves, a few mint      leaves, part of the saffron mixed in rose water. This is the third layer.
3. Repeat the process till all the meat, rice and garnish has been layered. 
4. Make a few holes through the biryani and drizzle some ghee through them.

     If you have cooked the rice as per the absorption technique proceed to step# 6, else 
     proceed to step#4

4. Seal the vessel with dough or aluminium foil. Place a tight lid over it to ensure there is no 
     loss of steam.
5. Place on the vessel on a cast iron tawa/skillet and let the biryani to cook on dum for 20-     
    25mins. Turn off the flame and allow the flavours and aromas to blend well before serving.
6. Serve hot with the raitha of your choice

Rice: The original recipe asks for a 1:1 ration between the meat & the rice. However I have scaled it down to 600gm of rice to a kilogram of meat since I have a small family. 
Chillies: The original recipe calls for 20 green chillies since there is no other source of basic spice (peppercorns or such), however, I used 10 medium sized green chillies as I was using just 600gm rice. This resulted in a moderately spicy biryani. Adjust the quantity of chillies according to your taste and as per the quantity of rice used.
Fennel seeds: Reduce the quantity by half only if you don't like the intense fragrance of fennel seeds, however, the aroma does get masked by other ingredients when the gravy is done.
Although this is a dum style biryani, you may choose to hasten the process by cooking the rice fully, layering it & then serving it immediately. However, the dum technique increases the flavour quotient of this biryani. 

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