Biryani is a heavenly matter of a dish consisting of rice and meat and/or vegetables. Together with selected spices and ingredients, a holistic sensory experience arises with no need for extra sides. Cooking time depends heavily on the ingredients, which meat or vegetables you choose. I do not know the origin of this dish, but besides the countries in southeast asia, I’ve come to understand that even Arabs / Chinese have their own versions. I’m quite fond of using fish, and a combination of rice and fish along with fragrant spices is an absolute winner! Don’t be alarmed by the number of ingredients, most of it is spices, non perishables and can be stored for a long time. This will serve 3-4:
Filleted fish of choice, 300-400 gms, cut into cubes
Basmati rice, 400 gms, washed and soaked in cold water
3-4 small potatoes, peeled and cut in small slices (app. 0,5 cm)
1/2 cup yoghurt Dill, fresh (1/2 cup) or dried (1 tsp)
Spices for marinating the fish:
salt, 2 tsp
red chilli, 1/2-1 tsp (by taste)
powdered paprika, 1 tsp
turmeric, 1 tsp
coriander powder, 1 tsp
sugar 1 tsp
garlic powder, 1/2 tsp
green cardamom, 1/2 tsp
carom fenugreek leaves, 1/2 tsp
black pepper, 1/4 tsp
dried mango powder, 1/4 tsp
canola oil, 2-3 tbs
and juice from half a lemon
Mix the spices with the oil and lemon juice and marinate the fish for at least one hour. I marinated my fish for two days, one day more than initially planned. Unforeseen things (and dinners!) always appear and delay my planning! lol.. 1 & 2. Fry the onion in the butter/oil mixture until golden.
3. Add the yogurt, stirr well and let it simmer for a minute or two, then add the marinated fish. Try not to stir too much around in the pot after you’ve added the fish, otherwise it will end up mushy. I usually grab the handles and give the pot a light “shake” just to mix things up a bit. You can also use a slim wooden spoon to stir lighter around.
4. Add the potatoes that you’ve cut into thin slices. Fish does not take long to complete, so it is important that the potato pieces are small enough so they’ll get tender in 5-10 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, boil the rice (amount of rice with 1,5 as much water). I use my regular pot for this purpose and not a rice cooker. The rice is supposed to be cooked a little over halfway, let’s say two-thirds done. Once you’ve reached this point, add your dill. Mix this into the rice. This gives a lovely aroma and a delicious appearance that goes well with the fish.
Now, you are ready to make the heavenly combination: 1. Divide the rice in two parts, and add one half as a layer at the bottom of a pot.
2. Add all the fish curry as the second layer.
3. On top of that, put your sliced tomatoes and a few slices of lemon.
4. Add the rest of the rice as the final layer. You may also add crispy, fried onions as a final step on top of that. I, unfortunately did not have time for this today, me= too hungry!
5. Now, close the lid and tighten it well around with a muslin cloth so no moisture escapes from your pot. This is supposed to steam lightly on very low heat (I put mine on 2 of 10) for 10-15 minutes. So now, you just have to wait patiently, open up and let the wonderful aromas fill your room and house. Biryani is said to be the food for kings, probably introduced by the Mughals, but I have no idea! This is best served with a nice raita (or plain yoghurt if you prefer that, to neutralize the spices!) and a fresh salad.