Monday, December 6, 2010


A biryani requires saffron. A spice I hardly use but had the pleasure of using when I made this. 

In using saffron i realized that crushing the saffron threads to a powder before soaking them in some hot water is a must if you want the intense crimson liquid to bloom to its fullest and to speckle the rice as if it had caught bits and pieces of golden sunlight here and there making the biryani rice quite attractive. 

The second time I made biryani I had not crushed the saffron to a powder and all I got was a yellow hue that made the biryani rice look as if i had cooked the rice in tumeric tinted water. Which is ok if I was making tumeric rice of course....but not if it was a biryani. 

Ghee or clarified butter adds so much flavour as well giving it the distinctive biryani taste. This too I had discovered when I had omitted using ghee the second time around.

Now I know why rules are meant to be broken. It convinces you that they shouldn't be.

Unlike the true Indian biryani where the rice and meat is layered and cooked in one pot, with the lid sealed tightly to the pot with a flour and water dough in order to retain as much moisture as possible within, I had instead cooked them seperately because I didn't trust myself.

You could of course layer the meat and rice after both have been cooked seperately, sprinkle some fried onions, chopped coriander leaves, squirts of lime juice in between each layer and let the mixed dish sit over a slow flame, covered, for an extra 5 minutes to infuse the flavours and serve thus.

If you had a three tiered tiffin carrier a simple salad of sliced cucumbers and pineapple could be included and you would have a complete biryani meal. 

The recipe ~

The biryani rice ~ from Delicious magazine

Vegetable oil
4-5 shallots, sliced thinly
 11/2 cups basmati rice
3 T ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
5 cardamom pods
5-6 cloves
1 inch cinnamon stick
2 dried bay leaves
1/3 cup sultanas
1/3 cup cashews (optional)
A pinch of saffron thread

Fry the finely sliced shallots until golden and crispy. Drain of kitchen paper and keep aside.

Wash the rice at least three times until the water is clear and to rid of excess starch. Drain over a fine sieve. Keep aside.
Heat a medium deep pot. Melt the ghee, Saute the cumin, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, sultanas, cashews (if using) and a teaspoon of salt for a few seconds. Add washed rice and stir until the rice is evenly coated by the ghee. Add 2 cups (500 ml) of boiling water. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile pound the saffron until a powder, scoop into a small bowl and add a teaspoon of hot water.

Uncover the rice pot after 15 minutes and dribble the saffron water over the rice. Cover again and let the rice cook over a very allow heat for about 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep half covered to allow the rice to dry a little. Sprinkle the fried shallots over the rice once transferred to a platter.

The meat biryani ~adapted from Indian Cooking by Lalita Ahmed

½ kg beef fillet, sliced thickly or into 1 inch cubes
3 yellow onions
1 bay leaf
1 inch cinnamon stick
4 cardomoms
6 cloves
1 inch ginger, pounded
2-3 cloves garlic
1//2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
½ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cashews, roasted and ground finely
A pinch of saffron thread, pounded and soaked in 1 T of hot water to release the colour
A sprig of coriander leaves, chopped
About 1 cup of water
3 -4 T ghee

To finish :

1/4 cup of crispy fried shallots,
Some chopped coriander leaves

Heat a medium deep pot. Melt the ghee, add the sliced onions and sauté until golden brown. Then add the bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Saute until fragrant for about 30 seconds. 

Then add the meat, ginger, garlic, turmeric, the ground spices, chiili powder and yogurt. Stir to incorporate the spices all over the meat. Cover and cook until dry and the oil seperates from the mixture.

Add water, ground cashews and continue cooking for 40-50 minutes or until the meat is tender. There should be 4-5 tablespoons of thick sauce. Add the chopped coriander leaves and saffron liquid and stir to mix in. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.

Before serving sprinkle the fried shallots over the dish and some chopped coriander leaves


Federica Simoni said...

ciao! arrivo giusta per l'ora di pranzo!!!!mmmmmmmmmm..........complimenti!!!!ciao!

Anh said...

I have such a weak spot for briyani! yours looks perfect!

Sonia ~ Nasi Lemak Lover said...

This looks so good and delicious! Time for me to try out Briyani.

3 hungry tummies said...

Your briyani looks absolutely to die for..well done Zurin :)

La Table De Nana said...

I have seen those Tiffin pretty and you really made a delicious looking meal:)

Torviewtoronto said...

delicious we make the same way but mixed :)

Elin Chia said...

Zurin......I am hungry just drooling at your briyani rice and that meat briyani looks so good....awwwwww salivating now and swallowing back some :p Thanks for sharing this perfect match :)

Ninette said...

Yum, yum, yum! This looks so good. Your pics are fabulous -- I just want to jump into the pictures and help myself. Thank you so much for laughing at my Thansgiving post. I love you for that, since I feel adrift from blogger friends as I have been overwhelmed at work. You made my day!

Anonymous said...

I am drooling just to look at this and i am vegan:)

Kate at Serendipity said...

Oh, Zurin, this looks amazing. I love lunch boxes and I love cooked lunches. When I take my lunch I have a box with little boxes inside it--like a bento (sort of). I'd love to fill it with this briyani.

Thanks for posting this!

Angie's Recipes said...

A mouthwatering briyani!

Sarah-Jane - said...

that does look yummy. What time is dinner ?

sana said...

Your briyan löök great!

Passionate About Baking said...

Hi zurin,
The rice briyani looks so good! And your meat! Gosh, this is really something worth dying for! Thanks for sharing!

Bakericious said...

I shn't have visit your blog at lunch time, looks delicious that I wanna throw my lunch away!

Pushpa said...

Looks so delicious.

Kimberly Peterson said...

This looks incredibly delicious and 100% authentic!! So when can I come to your restaurant? :)

Cherine said...

Your briyani looks so good!

Pei-Lin said...

"Now I know why rules are meant to be broken. It convinces you that they shouldn't be."

Zurin, very well said and good observation!

Hey, thanks for the saffron tip! But then, I haven't used saffron myself as the spice is very pricey!

How I wish I could have this for breakfast! Yup, these definitely make great tiffin meal for me at work for lunch too!!!

Will you be publishing your stories, too? Please? =)

Anonymous said...

Ah... Zurin! Your gorgeous looking nasi briyani is making me drool. I think I know what to cook this weekend :p

chow and chatter said...

love biriyani

diva said...

Love a good briyani. reminds me of when my Indian housemate used to whip one up on special nights! This looks gorgeous.

Su-yin said...

Your briyani looks absolutely fabulous. It's making me very hungry! :P Also makes me miss home admittedly, especially when you mention tiffin carriers...

Sarah said...

wow, that looks great! makes me want to buy more spices so I can make real Indian food one of these days.

one thing, though: it's biryani, not briyani :)

Sean Grey Hanson said...

I can't wait to try these! I love that briyani. It's really the best lunch worth dying for.

Elin Chia said...

Hi Zurin,

I am sharing my award with you...pls do drop by when you are free and collect it at Elinluv's Sweet Delights :)


Anonymous said...

I love briyani but to make one is soo leceh, at least to me hehe

Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

I am so glad to be back and surrounded by warm spicy savory dishes! The Briyani looks outstanding, Zurin!

chow and chatter said...

Merry Christmas Zurin :-)

hugs Rebecca

Bakericious said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family!

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Zurin!

Through My Kitchen Window said...

Your photo is simply stunning. I haven't cooked a biryani. Yours looks so beautiful. If I were a magazine owner I would snap you up in an instant. Mariana xx

Ruru said...

I made this today and the whole family loved it!!! Thanks!


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