T's Biriyani © TPH & llizard aka ejm 2002

Biriyani is really just a rich meat or vegetable curry on to which partially cooked rice is put and then cooked further in an oven or on top of a stove. Although the number of ingredients might seem daunting, leave out whatever you might not have in the spice drawer or whatever you don't like the taste of. Biriyani is as varied as there are cooks. No two are alike. Tradition has it to lay ¼ of a boiled egg on top of each serving. Some people add a few raisins to the curry just before putting the rice on top. Raisins obviously would add a little more sweetness. -TPH
Ingredients Preparation
  1. Finely chop onions, garlic and ginger. In a large casserole pot that has a tight fitting lid, fry dried red chilies in oil until blackened then add onions, garlic and ginger and continue frying until they begin turning brown on the edges.
  2. Add ground spices
    Garam masala
    3 tsp ground cardamom seeds
    ½ inch cinnamon stick, ground
    1 tsp ground cloves
    1 tsp ground black cumin seeds
    1 tsp ground cumin seeds
    1 tsp ground nutmeg
    1½ tsp ground black pepper
    and fry for 2 minutes then add meat and fry until meat is turning brown. Add salt, black pepper, water, almond powder and yoghurt. Simmer over low heat for 1½ hours or until meat is really tender. Stir in butter for added richness. Add some sugar if you think the curry would benefit from some sweetness. (Lots of Indian cooks use a little in their curries.) Taste and correct seasoning as you like. It should be rich and big tasting.
  3. Parboil 2 c of rice in lots of water for about 3 - 5 minutes until rice is tender outside but still al dente inside. Drain and add to the meat. (If you are adding raisins, scatter them on top of the curry before adding the rice.)
  4. Add to the top of the rice 5 whole green cardamom pods, 2 good sized cinnamon sticks, 5 whole cloves.
  5. Cover tightly and cook in a 300F oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour. When rice is done remove the cardamom, cinnamon sticks and cloves. (We like to crack open the cardamom pods and sprinkle the seeds over top. We only discard the outer husks.) They are there solely to flavour the rice as it cooks. (They'll be conveniently sitting on the top of the rice after it has cooked.)

***IMPORTANT NOTE*** If the rice in the fully cooked dish seems as though it's still too hard, dry, or not cooked enough: pour some boiling hot water over the biriyani - cover and cook 10 minutes more in the oven. The added water will cook the rice further.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), chopped green chilies and quartered hard boiled eggs if you like. Serve with lentils, steamed green vegetable and beer.

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