Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sindur khela...Kolakuli...Subho Bijoyar Chandrapuli...

In Bengal, Goddess Durga is worshiped during Devipokhsha(the fortnight of Goddess) for five days. It starts on Shasthi(the sixth lunar day) with Bodhon(welcome) of the goddess and ends on Dashami(the tenth lunar day), when the idol is immersed in river or pond. Dashami is commonly known as Bijoya Dashami denoting the victory of Ma Durga over Mahisasur, the buffalo-headed demon. This is the last day of Durga Puja.

The immortal Goddess comes to her devotees into mortal form for these five days. The five-day celebration of Durga Puja comes to an end with the Bhasan(immersion of idols) and the Goddess goes back to Kailash, her husband's abode. Before we bid a tearful farewell to goddess Durga and her four children— Laxmi, Saraswati, Kartik and Ganesh, the married women perform a ritual called 'Sindur  khela'. Sindur khela is putting vermilion on each others forehead and praying for long and happy married life. Married women of all ages take part in this.

After bhasan(immersion of the idol) the younger people touch the feet (Pronam) of their elders for their blessings and the men of same age do Kolakuli(hugging each other in a particular way). During this time we visit our relatives and close friends to say Subho Bijoya to them. And of course greet each other with platters of sweets like naru(coconut balls), chandrapuli(half moon coconut fudge), goja(fried sweet) and savouries like ghugni(white peas curry), nimki(fried crispy) etc.

Though I am miles away from my own city still, I can feel the festive pulse for these five days. Our puja  here is compressed to a weekend puja, but still I feel the same sadness on Dashami. To relive the wonderful memories of my childhood days, I made some Chandrapuli. A speciality sweet for Bijoya Dashami, made of coconut and solidified milk. Wish you all Subho Bijoya and as well as Happy Dusshera.

Things needed to make Chandrapuli:

  • Coconut (grated): 1cup
  • Mawa(solidified milk): 1cup
  • Green cardamom (crushed): 6-7
  • Milk: 2-3tbsp
  • Sugar: 3/4cup
  • Ghee(clarified butter): 2tbsp
  • Raisins or pistachio for garnish

Steps of making Chandrapuli:

1. Make a fine paste of the grated coconut. Using milk makes it easy to paste.

2. Take the seeds of the green cardamoms and crush them. Do not use the outer part of the cardamom, but do not discard it, keep it for some other dishes.

3. Grate the mawa. If you do not get mawa sustitute that with condensed milk. Condensed milk are already sweetened so you may need not to add extra sugar.

4. In a heavy bottom non stick pan heat ghee on medium heat. As the ghee melts add the crushed cardamom seeds. Reduce heat to low and add coconut paste and grated mawa. Mix well. Keep stirring till the mawa melts completely and get well mixed with the coconut paste. Keep the flame to low to low-medium. Keep stirring the mixture till the mixture starts to come together and drier. Gradually add sugar. It is a little time consuming and stirring continuously makes the hand pain, but there is no other way to do it.

5. the amount of sugar always depends on your choice. As I like mine to be less sweet I added about 3/4 cup granulated sugar. Take a little mixture and taste it to adjust the sweetness.

6. When the mixture becomes thick take a little mixture in you hand and try make a smooth ball, if you are successful making a smooth one then the mixture is done. Switch off the heat. Let it stand for 5-8min.

7. Take the chandrapuli mould, brush little ghee on it. Take handful of coconut mixture and shape it like chandrapuli. Chandra means moon in Sanskrit. The half moon shaped sweet is called so because of its shape.

8. The mixture should be hot to touch while moulding. After moulding 4-5 sweets clean the mould with a piece of clean cloth and brush a little ghee again. This helps the mould keep clean and the shaping the sweets become easy. If you do not have the mould, just make large circles from the mixture and cut into half moon shape and garnish with dry fruits.

8. Garnish the sweets with raisins or pistachio or any other dry frits of your choice. I remember my grand mother used add a little amount of camphor to the coconut mixture. That gives a nice aroma. But I did not have it so could not add it.

Store the sweets on an air tight container, 1cup of coconut and 1 cup mawa yields about 20-22 chandrapuli.

Enjoy with friends and family...Subho Bijoya..

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bhoger Khichuri...Durga Pujo Special

'Durga Pujo' these two words are so important for every single Bengalis. It is the most awaited festival for us. As the monsoon ends, the golden sunshine with fluffy white clouds drifting slowly on the backdrop of bright blue sky announces Durga Pujo is near. The white Kash phool and morning Siuli makes the festive mood. We all plan for shopping new dresses, gifts for near and dear ones. And of course the Pandals being ready with artisans creativity makes this religious event to a mass festivity, where religion or language hardly matters.
This Autumnal festival, Durga pujo is about worshiping the Goddess Durga, who saved all the other Gods from a demon named Mahisasur(buffalo headed demon). The goddess symbolises shakti(power). The divine power wins over the evil.
In Kolkata, India we celebrate Durga Pujo for 5days. It starts with Panchami(the fifth day of Goddess) to Dashami(the tenth day). The preparations starts long ago. First with making of the Durga idol. It is made with bamboo sticks, hay and clay.
Durga idol on making..Picture courtesy Sayantan Sarkar. For more pics please visit
The puja starts on Panchami with the inauguration of the idol. It is not allowed to see the face of the goddess before that. Then on Shasthi the priest welcomes the Goddess with Bodhon. Saptami starts with Kolabou snan, then puspanjali(offering flowers to the Goddess).

Light work outside a puja pandal, Kolkata

Dhunuchi dance

It is a common practice to fast during the morning of durga puja till the pushpanjali. After Pushpanjali, bhog(food for the Goddess) is distributed. In between Astami and Nabami a special puja called sandhi puja takes place. On the last day, the Dashami the idol is immersed in the water of Ganges.
The durga idol, Austin, Texas
The rhythm of dhak, fragrance of incense, dhoono, flowers and the priest chanting the mantras creates a divine atmosphere. I have grown up with all these. Now they are sweet memories for me. Being more than 7000miles apart I can only call my friends and relatives to ask how much are they enjoying? or watch the Bengali television channels to do a virtual pandal hopping. But for the food I recreated it in my kitchen.
The special Bhoger khichuri along with fried veggies was my pujo special lunch yesterday. Here is the details for you all...

Things needed to make Bhoger Khichuri:

  • Rice(Gobindobhog or kalazeera): 1cup
  • Mung(skinned and split mung beans) Dal: 1cup
  • Dry red chilies: 3-4
  • Bay leaf: 2-3
  • Cumin seed:1tsp
  • Cinnamon stick(1inch):2
  • Cardamom:3-4
  • Cloves:5-6
  • Ginger paste: 2tsp
  • Tomato(chopped): 1 large
  • Turmeric powder:
  • Cumin powder:
  • Red chili powder:
  • Garam masala powder;
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar
  • Ghee:2tbsp
  • Oil:1tbsp
  • Green pea(shelled):1/2cup
  • Potato, cauliflower(optional)

Steps of making Bhoger khichuri:

1. Soak the rice for 30min. The rice has to be Gobindobhog or kalazeera, otherwise it will taste like bhoger khichuri.

2. Take the mung dal in a pan and dry roast till the color changes to light brown. Stir continuously to prevent from burning. Wash the dal, and boil it till 3/4 done. I like to cook the dal before adding it to the rice, that reduces the cooking time. I washed the roasted dal, put it in the pressure cooker and cook till one whistle and switch off the heat. I waited till the pressure released and kept the almost done mung dal aside.

Mung Dal
3. In a pan add ghee. I used 1tbsp ghee with 1tbsp oil. If you like you can use only ghee. As the ghee melts add bay leaves, whole garam masala, dry red chilies and cumin seeds. When the spices release a nice aroma add the chopped tomatoes and sprinkle a pinch of salt. Cook for 2min, add the ginger paste. Cover and cook on low-medium heat for 4-5min. Add cumin powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder, mix well. Cook till oil separates.

4. Add rice and cook for 2min on high heat. Add warm water(3cups) and let it boil, as the water boils reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5-6min. Add the dal and mix well. If you are adding fresh green peas then add them at this stage. I used frozen peas, so I added those at the last stage of cooking. Cook for 12-15min. Check whether the rice and dal is fully cooked or not. If needed add more water and cook for 10 more min. The bhoger khichuri has a runny consistency, so do not hesitate to add water. Add salt and sugar as per taste. Add the frozen green peas. Add ghee and garam masala powder. Switch off heat, cover the pan and let it stand for 15-20min.

Serve hot with fried veggies, potato, pumpkin, okra etc.

Again that wonderful Durga image captured by my friend Sayantan..for more visit
This post is going to the durga puja special event of Kolkata Food blooger

May the Goddess bless us with peace and happiness...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cashew Chicken..

Again an American-Chinese dish, Cashew Chicken. Few days back my daughter had this dish in one of the popular food chain here, Panda Express. She liked it so much and asked me to recreate it at home. I did not follow any particular recipe just did it my way. As It was for my 5yr old, I kept it sweet and tangy. You can add green chilies or dry red chilies to make it hot-spicy.

Things needed to make Cashew Chicken:

  • Chicken breasts (cut into bite size pieces): 2cups
  • Cashew nuts: 1/3cup
  • Garlic (minced): 1tsp + 1/2tsp
  • Red onion (cut into large triangles): 3/4cup
  • Green bell pepper (cut into large triangles): 1/2cup
  • Red bell pepper (cut into large triangles) : 1/2cup
  • Scallions/Spring onion (green and white part chopped): a bunch
  • Dark soy sauce: 1tbsp+ 1tbsp
  • Kecap manis: 1tbsp
  • Sherry/Chinese white wine: 1tbsp
  • Oyster sauce: 1tbsp
  • Tomato Ketchup: 2tsp
  • Red chili powder: 1/4tsp
  • Black pepper powder: 1/4tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Chicken stock/water: 1cup
  • Corn starch: 2tbsp + 2tsp
  • Oil

Kecap manis (pronounced as KEH-chup MAH nees) is dark brown, syrupy-thick Indonesian sauce commonly used in Indonesian cooking. It is sweeter and has a nice flavor. It can be easily found in any Asian market. If unavailable, it can be approximated by simmering ½ cup (125 ml) soy sauce with 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar until the sugar dissolves.

Steps of making Cashew Chicken:

1. Wash, clean and pat dry the chicken breasts and cut into bite size pieces.
2. In a bowl mix garlic(1tsp), kecap manis, dark soy sauce(1tbsp), oyster sauce, sherry or chinese white wine, black pepper powder. Mix well and taste the salt, if you think you need to add salt then add a little. As all these sauces have high salt content, taste before you add salt. Add the chicken pieces to this mixture. Cover and marinate for 30min.
3. Heat oil in a wok.
4. Dust the marinated chicken pieces with corn starch(2tbsp). Fry the chicken pieces in batches, on high flame for 6-7min. Take out the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
5. Fry the onion and bell peppers for 1-2min on high heat. Keep them aside.
6. In a pan add 1tbsp oil, when the oil is hot add 1/2tsp garlic. Cook for 1min on high heat. Add the cashew nuts and cook for 2min. Take care not to burn the nuts. Add chopped spring onion, only the white part.

7. Add fried chicken, onion, bell peppers, mix well. Add tomato ketchup, dark soy sauce(1tbsp), red chili powder, mix well. Cook for 2min on medium-high heat. Add chicken stock or water, increase the heat.

8. Mix corn starch with little water. As the gravy boils add the corn starch-water mix. Cook for 2-3min, the gravy will thicken. Switch off heat. Garnish with chopped spring onions(green part only).

Serve hot with fried rice or plain rice...Enjoy!!!

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Monday, October 15, 2012



Ghugni is a very popular street food in Kolkata. The food vendors selling hot Ghugni to the crowd in front of a movie theatre or a park is a common visual. This hot and spicy snack is served on a eco-friendly leaf bowl(Saal patar bati), drizzled with tangy tamarind water and a thin slice of coconut.

Not only in West Bengal, Ghugni is also very popular in other Eastern states of India, like Bihar, Orissa, Assam. It is served as a evening snack or breakfast, even during lunch on a road side stall along with some toasted breads. It is a practice in many household, making Ghugni on the last day of durga puja, that is on Bijoya Dasami, along with other sweets.

There are several different varieties of making Ghugni. Some are vegetarian, that is without any onion and garlic(Yes, In India onion and garlic are considered to be non-veg); and some are with chunks of meat(Mangsher ghugni) or small shrimps(Chingri mach diye ghugni). And of course the road side version with the zing of tamarind water. Ghugni is also served as a side along with puri or rotis.

The ghugni I made today was to go with some luchi(puffed fried flat bread). It was our Sunday special breakfast.

Things needed to make Ghugni:

  • Ghugni kodai/Dried yellow peas: 1 and 1/2 cup
  • Potato: 1 large
  • Onion: 1cup
  • Garlic paste: 1tsp
  • Tomato: 1 large
  • Ginger paste: 2tsp
  • Turmeric powder: 3/4tsp
  • Cumin powder: 1tsp
  • Garam masala powder: 1tsp
  • Red chili powder: 2-3tsp
  • Salt to taste
To garnish
  • Chopped onion
  • Chopped green chilies
  • Lemon wedges
  • Bhaja masla/Roasted and coarsely ground cumin and dry red chili

Steps of making Ghugni:

1.Soak the ghungi kodai(dried yellow peas) overnight. Wash well and drain water. Cook the peas in a pressure cooker. As it whistle once, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10-15min. Switch off heat, wait till pressure releases. The peas I used were perfectly cooked this way, but sometimes the time varies. Just check whether the peas are cooked or not. It should be soft but should retain its shape.
Boiled yellow peas
2. Drain the boiled yellow peas and keep aside. In a pan or kadai heat oil, when the oil is hot fry the cubed potatoes till the potatoes are golden. Keep the fried potatoes aside.

3. In the same oil (add more oil if needed), add the chopped onions. Cook on medium heat for 5-6min. Keep stirring in between. Add garlic paste, cook for 1min. Add ginger paste, mix well and cook for 2min on medium heat. Add chopped tomatoes, sprinkle little salt and mix well. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are done.

4. When the tomatoes are mushy add turmeric powder, cumin powder, red chili powder and mix well. Cover and cook on low-medium heat till oil separates.

5. Add water to the cooked masala and let it boil. As it boils add the fried potato cubes. Cover and cook till potatoes are almost done. Add the boiled yellow peas. Mix well. Cover and cook on low-medium heat till potatoes are done. Check the seasoning and adjust accordingly.

6. Add garam masala powder. Switch off heat, cover the pan and let it stand for 10min.

7.Serve hot with dash of lime juice, chopped onion, green chilies, and sprinkle bhaja masala. Bhaja masala is roasted and ground dry red chili and cumin seeds.

Can be served with luchi, puri, rotis...or just as a snack....

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Meen-a-curry...Fish with curry leaves

I simply love the flavor of curry leaves. Be it in sambar or as seasoning in the fried potatoes. But the problem is I have a big anti-curry patta member in my family. So I can't use it very often or experiment with it as I like to do. This time I was planning to make something different with fish. I was totally in dark what to do. I was not eager to make anything elaborate with thick buttery gravy or even not ready to make regular Bengali stuff like jhol or jhal.
Suddenly dimak ki batti jali and I thought of using curry leaves to cook the fish. It is a very simple dish with very few ingredients. The good thing it is finger-licking good in spite of such few ingredients, and I give the sole credit to my obedient ingredient curry leaves.

Things needed to make Meen-a-curry (fish with curry leaves):

Fish: 5-6 pcs
Curry leaves: 12-15
Fenugreek seeds/Methi dana: 1tsp
Dry red chilies: 6-7
Garlic (minced): 2tsp
Tomato (chopped): 1large
Turmeric powder: 1tsp
Red chili powder: 2-3tsp
Jaggery/brown sugar: 1tsp
Oil (preferable mustard oil)
Salt to taste

Steps of making Meen-a-curry(fish with curry leaves):

1. Clean and wash the fish pieces and smear with turmeric powder and salt. Keep aside for 30min. I used tilapis fish. You can use any other fishes or prawns for this dish.

2. In a pan or kadai add oil. I used mustard oil, as it brings extra flavor to the dish. When the oil is hot fry the fish pieces well and keep aside.

3. In the same oil add curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, dry red chilies. Cook till you get a nice aroma of curry leaves. Fenugreek seeds give a nice flavor but it taste bitter, so if you like you can take the seeds out after it changes the color. But I just kept the seeds in, just was a bit careful while eating not chew those little bitterly seeds.

4. Add the garlic and cook on medium heat for 2min. Add the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle salt and put the lid on. Cook on medium heat till the tomatoes are done.

5. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and mix well. I added 3teaspoons of red chili powder as I like my fish to be spicy hot. You can always adjust the amount of chili depending on your taste preference.

6. Cook till oil separates. Add the jaggery or brown sugar or normal sugar, what ever you are using. Mix well. Add 1/4cup water and let it boil. As the gravy boils add the fried fishes and reduce the heat and cover. Cook for 10-12min, turn the fish in between. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Serve with steaming hot rice.

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Monday, October 8, 2012

Kadhai Paneer

It happens often that the vegetables in my refrigerator decide for me what I should cook. Sometimes they threaten me that if you do not cook me today, tomorrow you may have to throw me in the trash...But sometimes their freshness, and vibrant colors prods me saying that we will look very pretty and colorful in your blog...
That happened with this Kadhai Paneer also. I was thinking of making a paneer dish but was not sure which one. Then I found these red and green bell peppers in the vegetable tray. So the choice came naturally, I was making Kadai Paneer for dinner.
Kadai or Kadhai is a round bottom frying pan used in Indian kitchen. This is very similar to a stir fry pan, only with two handles on the sides. Kadhai is a type of preparation where the spices are coarsely ground. Kadhai dishes are generally semi dry, with a tomato based gravy and flavored with kasuri methi and garam masala.

Things needed to make Kadhai Paneer:

  • Paneer: 200gm
  • Green bell pepper(cut into squares): 1/4cup
  • Red bell pepper(cut into squares):1/4cup
  • Onion(cut into squares):1/4cup
  • Onion(sliced):1/2cup
  • Garlic(chopped):2tsp
  • Ginger(grated):1tsp
  • Tomato(chopped): 1cup
  • Red chili powder:1tsp
  • Turmeric powder:1/2tsp
  • Deghi mirch powder:1tsp
  • Coriander powder:1/2tsp
  • Coriander(roughly ground):1tsp
  • Garam masala powder:1tsp
  • Dry red chili: 4-5
  • Kasuri methi: 1tsp
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste

Steps of making Kadhai Paneer:

1. Cut paneer, bell peppers, onion into equal size squares.

2.In a flat non-stick pan heat oil, as the oil is hot put the paneer pieces in a layer and fry them in high heat for 3-4min or till the paneer takes a nice brown color. Keep turning the paneer pieces. Do not overcook the paneer, or it will become hard.

3.  In a kadhai or pan add oil(1tbsp), when the oil is hot fry the bell peppers on high heat for 2min. As the bell peppers take brown color on the edges take them out. It should be crunchy. Add the bell peppers in small batches at a time to the oil. Keep the heat high, this will help the bell pepper to be crunchy. After frying all the bell peppers, fry the onions same way. Take out from oil and keep aside.

4. In the same pan heat more oil(2tbsp), add the sliced onions and cook on medium heat for 4-5min. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 2min. Add grated ginger and cook for 2min. Add chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle a little salt and mix well. Cover and cook till the tomatoes are mushy. Cook on high heat for 2-3min. Switch off heat and let this mixture cool down. As the masala cools down transfer it to a grinder or food processor and make a smooth paste. Keep it aside.

5. In a kadhai or pan add oil. When the oil is hot add half of the roughly ground coriander seeds and dry red chilies. I roasted the coriander seeds first then crushed them. Cook for 1-2min or till the spices release a nice aroma. Add the freshly made onion-tomato paste. Cook on low-medium heat for 3-4min and stir in between. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, deghi mirch powder, coriander powder, mix well. Cook on medium heat till oil separates from the masala. Add 1/2 cup warm water and bring that to boil. Add salt and sugar. Mix well. Add the fried paneer, bell peppers and onions. Cover and cook on medium heat for 3-4min.

6. Check seasoning and adjust accordingly. Add kasuri methi, garam masala powder and rest of the crushed coriander seeds. Cover and let it stand for 5min. Serve hot with naan or roti.

Kadhai Paneer served with naan

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Murgh(chicken) Malai Tikka...

If you ask which is your favourite day of the week, 7 out of 10 will answer Friday, the door opener to the weekend. As I child from Wednesday evening I used to comfort myself saying it's only Thursday then Friday and yeeeepeeiii the most awaited weekend, a break. Still now I do that. A break from waking up with the annoying alarm on the phone, a break from everyday must do jobs, a break from routine.
So why not treat your family, friends and yourself with something special on this Friday evening. I do that. And a foodie like me always think about foods on any every single occasion. Be it fun Friday or mundane Monday...only yummilicious foods can make it more merrier or less gloomier. 
Do not assume that I cook a five course meal to celebrate my Friday, it is something small but bright, like cherry on top or a little glitter on the cheek.

This Friday it was Murgh(chicken) Malai Tikka to say TGIF..!!! A quick simple kebab for my family. Tikka means bite size. Malai means cream. So from the name you can make out that the bite size chicken pieces are marinated in cream and then cooked. Traditionally the tikkas are cooked on a clay oven or tandoor. I did mine on the oven.

Things needed to make Murgh Malai Tikka:

  • Chicken(boneless): 500gm cut into bite size pieces
  • Lime juice: 1tbsp
  • Garlic (fine paste): 1tbsp
  • Ginger (grated): 2tbsp
  • Hung curd or Greek yogurt: 1/2cup
  • Fresh cream: 1/4cup
  • White pepper powder: 2tsp
  • Coriander powder: 1tsp
  • Cardamom powder: 1tsp
  • Mozzarella Cheese (grated): 1/4cup
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil: 1tbsp
  • Butter (melted): for basting

Steps of making Murgh Malai Tikka:

1. Clean and wash the chicken breasts, pat dry with a kitchen towel. Cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Prick the meat with a fork. Marinate the chicken pieces with lime juice, salt and half of the white pepper powder for 15min.

2. In a bowl add Greek yogurt or hung curd, fresh cream, garlic paste(use only very fine paste), rest of the white pepper powder, coriander powder, cheese, oil. To this add the extract of grated ginger. Discard the fibrous part, you only need the juice of the ginger. Mix well. Marinate the chicken pieces in this mixture. Coat all the chicken pieces well. Cover and marinate for min 6-8hrs inside the refrigerator.

3. Take out the marinated chicken from the refrigerator 1hr before cooking.

4. Preheat the oven to 400F or 200C. Put the chicken pieces in the skewers. If using wooden skewers, then soak them in water at least for 30-40min. For metal skewers no need to do that. As the oven beeps to tell its preheated, reduce heat to 350F/180C and cook the chicken for 10-15min on the top rack. In between turn the chicken and baste with melted butter. When the chicken is cooked set the oven to broiler mode and cook for 3-4min, so the chicken takes nice burnt color.
[To know whether the chicken is cooked or not, take a knife and cut through a chicken piece, if it is white in color then the chicken is cooked. But if it is pink or pinkish then its needed to be cooked more.]

Serve hot with salad, lemon wedges and green chutney. Enjoy your Friday.

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Mutton Biryani...Kolkata style

Biryani, what can I say about this dish? It is already been talked about so much. Biryani has its own long journey from Middle East to India. There are many different variants of Biryanis cooked throughout this world. Only in India, there is almost 15 or 16 different style of making Biryani.
The biryani I made is the Kolkata (Calcutta) style.  This particular type has evolved from Awadhi/Lucknowi style. When the last Nawab (king) of Awadh, Wajid Ali shah was exiled to Kolkata, along came his personal chef, so did the Biryani.
Being a Bong, I love the Kolkata style Biryani. To celebrate the biggest festival of Bengal, the Durga Puja what else could be more suitable than biryani. Seeking blessings from the deity, pandal hopping, new dresses and some yummy food that makes us true Bong. Try this recipe for your friends and family and enjoy the festivity.
I combined several different recipes to make this Mutton Biryani. A special thanks to my mom and my friends from Dubai Pinki and Satyaki.

Things needed to make Mutton Biryani:

For the rice:
  • Basmati rice: 800gm/ 4cups
  • Bay leaves:2-3Cinnamon sticks(1inch): 3Shah jeera/black cumin: 1tsp
  • Mace/javitri: 1 floret
  • Nutmeg/jaiphal: 1/4
  • Star anise: 1
  • Black peppercorn: 6-7
  • Salt: 2tsp

For the Biryani masala:
  • Cinnamon (1inch stick): 3
  • Cardamom: 5-6
  • Cloves: 7-8
  • Shah jeera/black cumin: 1tsp
  • Black cardamom: 2
  • Mace (javitri): 1floret
  • Nutmeg (jaiphal): 1/4
  • Black peppercorn: 7-8
  • Star anise: 2
  • Fennel: 1 tsp

To marinate the goat meat:

  • Goat meat: 1kg(2.2lb)
  • Grated papaya: 3tbsp
  • Greek Yogurt/Hung curd: 4tbsp
  • Ginger paste: 1tbsp
  • Garlic paste: 1tbsp
  • Salt: 1tsp
  • Biryani masala: 1tbsp
  • Red chili powder: 1tbsp
Other Ingredients:
  • Onion(thinly sliced): 2cups
  • Potato(baby potatoes): 4-5
  • Hard boiled eggs: 3-4
  • Rose water: 2tsp
  • Kewra essence: 6-7drops
  • Milk: 1/4cup
  • Saffron strands: 1/2tsp
  • Oil
  • Ghee/Clarified butte

Steps of making Biryani:

To make the Biryani masala:

1. Dry roast all the spices separately on a pan. Let them cool down and make a powder. I always make a little more needed for the Biryani, the rest I store in an air tight container for future use. You can use this masala to make other biryanis, like chicken or egg or vegetable biryanis. Even you can add it to any meat preparations.

To prepare the meat:

1. Use large pieces of goat meat without fat. I used the front leg part or the agli raan to make this Biryani. Clean and wash the goat meat, pat dry with a kitchen towel.

2. Grate green papaya. You can also use meat tenderizers. Marinate the meat with the grated papaya for 30min.

3. In a bowl mix Greek yogurt (or hung curd), ginger paste, garlic paste, salt and biryani masala(1tbsp). Marinate the mutton pieces in this for 3-4hrs, you can also marinate it overnight.

Making fried onions or Barista:

1. Slice the onions very thin. Separate the slices.

2. In a pan or kadai add oil (2inch deep) and fry the onion slices till nicely brown. Take care not to burn them. Fry in small batches. Do not put all the slices at a time, that will lead to lumpy messy onions. Make sure all the onion slices frying are dipped in oil, if needed add more oil. Keep stirring continuously but gently for an even brown color.

3. Take the fried onions out with a slotted spoon or ladle. Keep them on a paper-towel lined plate. This crispy brown fried onion slices are called Barista. Keep half of the fried onions for later use and use half to cook the meat. Do not discard the oil, use it to cook the meat.

Cooking the meat:

1. In the same pan where onions were fried take half of the fried onions and add the marinated meat and cook till almost done. The oil would be separated from the spices and there should not be any watery gravy to the meat.

Preparing the filler(potato and egg):

1. Boil 3-4eggs till hard. Cool down and shell the eggs. Fry the egg till golden and keep them aside.

2. For the potatoes, either use 4-5 small baby potatoes or cut a large potato into quarters. Peel the potatoes and wash well. Fry the potatoes till golden brown. I boiled the potatoes first then fried them.

Preparing the rice:

1. Use only good quality long grain Basmati rice. Soak the rice for 20min in water. Wash well till the water runs clear. Drain all the water.

2. In a small piece of cloth take cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg, black peppercorn, shah jeera, star anise and tie a knot to make a bag(potli).

3. In a deep pan take loads of water and put bay leaf, salt, the spice bag and let the water boil. As the water rolls boiling add the rice. Cook till its done 3/4th. Drain and spread the rice on a tray.

Preparing the saffron-milk:

1.Take 1/4cup warm milk in a cup and dissolve saffron strands in the milk. Cover and wait for 20min. Add rose water and kewra essence in the milk. Mix well and cover. Keep aside.

Layering the Biryani:

1. Take a large heavy bottom pan with tight fitting lid. Add 2tbsp ghee to the pan. Melt the ghee on low heat. Turn and rotate the pan carefully so the ghee can coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Switch off the heat.

3. Add a layer of cooked rice, then cooked meat pieces, potatoes, egg, sprinkle saffron water, sprinkle biryani masala, add fried onion slices and ghee. Again add a layer of rice, then meat...go on like this till you are done. Top and bottom layer will be of rice.

4. Put the lid on. Seal the pan with flour dough. I did not use flour dough, I covered the pan with aluminium foil, then put the lid. Keep the heat to lowest. And cook the Biryani in this 'Dum' process for 40min. Make sure your pan in heavy-bottomed or the rice will burn. Or you can place a flat tawa then keep the pan on that tawa. Some like to make a double boiler. For that, take a wide pan add boiling water to the wide pan and place your pan with Biryani on that wide pan.

After 40min switch off the heat and let the biryani stand for another 10min. Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with raita and salad.

This post is going to the Puja special event of Kolkata Food Bloggers.

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