Mughlai or Moglai Biriyani

A few weeks ago, I posted about my parents sending over a copy of all my mother's special recipes from India. It's fun to browse through, and admire the nuances that make up a perfect dish. I was drawn to the Mughlai (Mogalai) Biriyani recipe, and tried it out for my sister's Surprise Birthday party. It was fragrant, and the next time around, I'll remember to cook the rice just a bit more. Here's the recipe. (This one calls for mutton/lamb, but I found it worked just fine with chicken.)
Three cups Pulao or Basmati Rice (450 gms in the original recipe)
One pound lamb or chicken (500 gms)
One lime
Quarter cup nuts (almonds or cashews)
Mint leaves, a few sprigs
Three tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 bunch coriander leaves
Two large onions
One inch of ginger (one tablespoon crushed)
Five green chillies
Three cloves of garlic
One cup of yogurt
Half a cup of milk
One pinch or turmeric
Other spices: Saffron, bay leaves, cardamom, cumin and Cinnamon (a pinch of each)
  • Grind ginger,chillies, garlic and nuts into a fine paste
  • Fry sliced onions in the ghee or butter till golden brown and crisp
  • Remove the onion and in the hot ghee, fry the ground paste and then add the meat in that paste and fry
  • After about five minutes, add a cup of water and cook till the meat is tender. make sure to cover the meat as it cooks. I found it took about fifteen minutes, and I added another cup of water as well.
  • In parallel, start cooking rice till it is 3/4 done (I'd use a quarter less water and cook for a quarter less time than normal)
  • Once the rice is ready, add a teaspoon of salt to it and mix well
  • In the cup of yogurt, add the powdered spices (except for the saffron), and add in a sliced chilli, mint and lime juice
  • Add the yogurt mix to the cooked meat and stir in well
  • Dissolve the saffron in some warm milk
  • Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees
  • In a strong (oven-safe), deep pan lay out one layer of rice. Plan on there being at least two layers of rice
  • Sprinkle some saffron milk onto the rice. Next layer some onion and lamb on.
  • Repeat the rice/ onion/ lamb (or chicken) layer
  • Cover tightly and place in a 300 degree oven, and bake for an hour