Cradle babe got wed last week and I am a little disoriented since then. I'm happy for her, but you see, to me she's still the babe in the cradle, which is why, I must now talk about how the Hyderabadi Biryani was realised in my kitchen. For there is nothing quite like talk of good food to set your bearings straight!
So, the story goes back about 29 years. Ever since (and perhaps even before) I sprouted my first set of teeth, I have had dad cooking and feeding me what he calls "Hyderabadi Biryani". Legend also says that the first official sentence I lisped was, "First you must brown the onions". Intention here is not to brag, but to emphasize how deeply rooted in my upbringing the biryani always has been and hence was only a matter of time before I'd introduce it in my own kitchen.
I'm glad to report that this has been by far the most resounding success of the Sushi-Sashimi kitchen. When he first tasted it, Sushi, he was moved enough to...oh never mind, let's cut to the chase shall we.
First you must locate a goat with a hind leg, then have the butcher chop it(the hind leg) into medium sized pieces. You then get your prize home, wash the pieces thoroughly and tuck them away in the refrigerator. Next, we grab some glossy, green, firm, green chili - about 18 whole chillies for 1 kg of mutton. You need to then divide them in 3 groups and slice them three different ways. The first group simply has the heads chopped off, the 2nd is slit down the middle, the 3rd is slit down the middle too and de-seeded. Please excuse the brutality, but it really was necessary to the story. I'll even rate this offering PG.
We then mix some g-g paste in curd, add half of each kind of chili groups, salt, garam masala and half a cup of lemon juice. Then we go find the mutton tucked away in the refrigerator, add it to the above mixture. Let it sit nice and quiet for the next 3 hours.
In the mean time, any guesses? Well, as even a 4 year old would be able to tell - brown the onions! Set them aside. We progress now, to my favourite and the most aromatic and exotic part of the entire preparation - in a big pateela, set a large volume of water to boil. Drop in the remainder of the chilies, cloves, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, and general things of that genre along with salt. When the water is boiling, in goes rice. It comes out in the next 10 minutes flat, because we don't want the rice to be more than 2/3rds cooked at this point. The way to check for 2/3rd cooked-ness is to bite through a grain of rice to make sure that your teeth sink in only up to 2/3rds of the thickness of the grain. It's a bit tricky at first, but when you get the knack for it, you wouldn't even need a ruler to test.
The last step is to assemble everything together. First the mental calorie calculator needs to be switched off. Then pour in ghee or oil to a depth of about 1 cm at the bottom of the pateela. Next the mutton pieces are arranged at the bottom. The remaining curd from the marinade is poured on top, rice (2/3rd cooked) goes next. Plenty of chopped coriander leaves are sprinkled on top of the rice for garnish (Cradle babe hates coriander). Your pateela would need to be sealed off with its lid. I even use dough to make sure the lid stays stuck in place.
The rice-ghee-mutton-coriander assembly should now be put on fire. Dad always uses real charcoal fire, but all that mess daunts me, so I go for the trusty gas stove. 10 minutes on high, the next 10 minutes on medium, and 10 minutes after that on indirect heating - you are now all set to tuck in!
You're welcome, it's totally been my pleasure.