Saturday, November 20, 2010


This afternoon a few friends are getting together for a curry cook-off. Last year was the inaugural event (we didn't know it then, we just got together to compare our favourite curries). I think 10 different dishes were made, all of them excellent, and a brilliant time was had.

So this year I suspect that the standard will be pretty high, and I haven't made a Biryani in ages, so that's what I'm doing. There are 100s of variations on this dish, as it's celebrated from the Middle East right across to the Philippines. The version I'm making owes more to India, but I suspect that I'm bastardizing several cultural standards in the process. Call it a fusion biryani. Actually, call it whatever you like; I'm sure you will.

Here's a brief rundown of what I done did:
I browned off a kilo of diced shoulder lamb in some ghee, and then fried a couple of chopped onions in the oil.
I made a very rich gravy with ground cumin, coriander, cardamon, garam masala, tamarind, ginger, garlic, chilli, prawn paste, mustard, coconut cream and chicken stock. I added so many little bits of things that I can't remember if that list is complete. Just keep tasting, and adding stuff until it has that balance of sweet/sour/salty/hot that seems right. I made about 3/4 litre of gravy like this.

Meanwhile I cooked some Basmati rice in stock with a few cloves, some saffron, and some bay leaves.

Once the onions were cooked, I used the same oil to cook some prawns adding some stock and some lemon juice.
I then removed them from the pan, and mixed the reduced gravy, the onions and the browned lamb and simmered the whole lot for about 40 min.
Meanwhile I took a good handful each of cashews and almonds, and dry roasted them in a pan. Once brown, I added salt, sugar and pepper and some stock, and reduced it until dry, whence all the seasoning had stuck to the nuts.
Oh, and I hard-boiled 5 eggs.

So now I have all the various elements of the biryani ready. I next made a layer of half the rice in a baking dish, and on top of that placed a layer of the meat and onions, leaving the gravy in the pan.
I then added a layer of nuts
and a layer of prawns.
On top of that, I added the other half of the of rice,
topped it with halved eggs,
and poured the gravy all over the top.

The whole thing then goes in the oven at about 150degC for 45 min with foil covering it so that it doesn't (hopefully) dry out. Ideally it should be a better fitting lid than that (tradition suggests a clay pot with a lid sealed with dough, but I'm using crossed fingers instead).

It smells wonderful and fragrant, so we shall see...

I shall have to add a comment as to how it tasted, and, if I remember, I'll take some pics of the other curries. Wish me luck!


  1. It tasted great! And a day later it tasted great again. And, today, the chickens thought it tasted great, too.