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Malabar Mutton Biryani



Mutton - 1kg or 2.5 lbs
Onion 500 gm or 4 medium
Tomato - 200 gm or 2
medium sized ones
Green chilies 100 gm or
about 15 in number (Use 20-
25 for 2 kg
mutton..depending on the
hotness of the chili.)
Ginger - 50 gm or a 4 piece
Garlic pods 50 gm or 8 cloves (big)
Pepper powder 1 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Plain Yogurt- 3/4 cup (thick)
Fennel(Perinjeerakam/Saunf) - 1 tsp
Poppy seeds (Khus khus) - 1 tsp
Mint leaves (Pudhina) - 1/2 bunch
Coriander leaves (Malli ela/Dhania) - 1/2 bunch
Curry leaves- a handful
Lemon juice- 1 1/2 tsp or juice of 1 lemon.
Clarified butter (Ghee) - 1/2cup or 1/4 cup mixed with ¼ cup oil
Cashew nuts 20 gm or a handful
Raisins- 20 gm or a handful

For the rice:

Basmati rice - 1 kg/ 4 cups
Cinnamon (Karuvapatta) - 4 sticks
Cloves (Carambu) - 4
Cardamom (Elakkai) - 4
One bay leaf, salt.
Lemon juice- 1 1/2 tsp or juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

Biryani Masala:

Cinnamon 2 inch piece
Cardamom 8
Cloves 8-10
Nutmeg 1
bay leaves- 1
Mace 5-6
Caraway seeds 1 tbsp
Star Anise-1
Dry roast all together and grind to a fine powder.


1. Clean the mutton and cut into medium sized pieces. Wash and drain.
2. Soak the fennel seeds and poppy seeds in a bowl with water for an hour at least and grind with very little water to a very fine paste. If it still feels grainy, add atablespoon of grated coconut to grind it well. Keep aside.
3. Grind together the ginger, garlic and green chilies into a coarse paste. Chop the
tomatoes into cubes and slice the onions. One onion should be sliced extra fine.
This one is for the fried onion garnish.
4. Marinate the mutton with the ginger garlic chili, and all the other spices and
ingredients except the onions, biryani masala and herb leaves. Add salt too and
keep covered for an hour at least. Clean and soak rice for 10 minutes. Keep aside.
5. Heat three fourth of the ghee/oil in a heavy bottom pan. Add the garnish
portion of the sliced onions and fry, till golden brown and crisp. Sprinkle some
sugar over the onions to speed up the crisping. This should take about 10
minutes. Remove the onions and fry the cashew nuts on medium heat till it turns
brown on all sides. Drain and remove. Add the raisins now and stir till they plump
up. Remove onto paper towels. This ghee/oil is used for flavoring the rice so save
6. Heat up the remaining oil and add the rest of the sliced onions and sauté it till it
becomes translucent. Add the marinated mutton, the poppy seed mixture, the
biryani masala and the coriander, mint and curry leaves and mix thoroughly. Keep
it covered and cook on medium heat for an hour, checking frequently till the oil
starts to separate and the meat gets almost cooked but still has a bite left. If the
mutton normally requires a long cooking time, you can pressure cook it for just
one whistle and then simmer on slow heat to concentrate the gravy. Do not add
water at all. Check taste and add more salt or yogurt, pepper etc if needed.
7. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
8. Heat 3 tbsp of the remaining onion ghee/oil and add the whole spicescinnamon,
cardamom, cloves and bay leaves. Sauté for a second and add the
drained rice. Stir the rice till it turns opaque and add 6 cups water (three fourth of
the quantity required for ghee rice). Cover and cook on slow heat the rice along
with all spices and salt, till all the water is absorbed. This would take about 5-8
9. In an oven proof dish, spread half of the mutton masala and place half of rice
over it. Sprinkle some lemon juice to prevent the rice from sticking. Spread the
remaining masala and top it with rice followed by lemon juice. Pour 2 tbsp of
ghee/oil on top of it and sprinkle some roasted onion, nuts and raisins. Close it
with a layer of aluminum foil and then lid and put it in the oven for 25 - 35 minutes.
Remove and let rest for another 5-10 minutes before opening.
10. Serve with coconut chutney (biryani chammandi), Pickled onions (Ulli surka),
Yogurt and Papadam.

P.S. The biryani masala freezes extremely well, so if you have extra masala,
separate it after cooking and freeze it immediately. Defrost and make ghee rice to go with it and you have instant biryani.

- Monica Abdul , Singapore

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