Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mutton Biryani Nagercoil style

My love or should I say my craze for biryani has fitted me with a feeler antenna that keeps buzzing in search for new recipes. The Lucknowi and the Hyderabadi biryani is known to almost every Indian but a land as spread out as India has many more versions of this delectable dish. Variations in ingredients and process make a significant enough difference for the biryani to be named differently. 
And this is one such biryani, called the Nagercoil Mutton Biryani. Now  about the name? It is a recipe from Hotel Prabhu, which is a famous restaurant in Nagercoil, a town in Tamil Nadu. This restaurant is famous for its Mutton Biryani and has a small fan following of its own. This restaurant was covered in a regional channel TV in a program called Flavors of India which featured locally known restaurants. The chef of the restaurant shares one of the recipes and demonstrates cooking it.

Here, I have tried to recreate the Mutton Biryani in Nagercoil Hotel Prabhu style. What makes it different? Definitely the spices that go into it, it includes mace, nutmeg and star anise in sizable amounts. Parts of the recipe were a little unclear with the hostess’s contant talk so I had to estimate some of the ingredients a little but the result was awesome.
for the mutton
Mutton - 1/2 kg
Onion - 3, medium
Tomato - 2, medium
Yogurt - 1/4 cup
Ginger - 2 inch piece
Garlic - 10 to 12
Green Chilli – 3 to 4
Turmeric pwd - 1 tsp
Red chilli pwd - 1 tsp
Bay leaf - 3
Star anise - 3
Green Cardamom - 5
Black Cardamom - 1
Cloves - 8 to 10
Cinnamon stick - 2, 2 inch pieces
Mace - 4
Nutmeg – ½, crushed
Fennel pwd - 3/4th tsp
Coriander pwd - 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – 1/2 cup
Mint leaves - 1/4 cup
Oil - 3 tbsp
Butter - 3 tbsp
Salt as per taste
for the Rice
Rice - 2 cups
Cloves - 6
Cinnamon stick - 1, 2 inch piece
Green Cardamom - 3
Black Cardamom - 1
Bay leaf - 2
Salt as per taste
Butter – 1 tbsp
for assembling
Coriander leaves – 1/2 cup
Butter – 2 tbsp, melted
Clean and wash the mutton. Put it in a bowl and add a little salt and the turmeric and red chilli powders. Mix well and keep aside.
Slice the onion and chop the tomato, ginger, garlic and coriander leaves. Wash the rice and keep it soaked till ready to cook.

Heat a pressure cooker and add the oil and 3 tbsp butter. When hot add the bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon stick and the sliced onion and sauté. Add the star anise, green and black cardamoms, mace and nutmeg and continue sautéing. When the onion is light golden add the ginger and garlic and sauté. When the onion starts browning add the fennel and coriander powders and sauté. Add the marinated mutton and stir. Once mixed, add the chopped tomato and green chilies and sauté till the tomato softens. Add the mint and coriander leaves and cover and let the mutton cook. If you want it to be done quickly, cook it under pressure for a couple of whistles. Once the mutton is done, take off the heat.

Heat about 4 cups of water and let it come to a boil and lower the heat. Add some salt and the bay leaves, cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. Add the rice after draining the soaked water out. Stir gently so that the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom and then cover with a lid and let it cook. Check the rice after about 5 to 8 minutes, add some salt if required and again cover. Check again after about 3 to 5 minutes if the rice is done. The rice should be 3/4th done and take it off the heat. Use a colander to drain the water out from the rice. Add a tablespoon of butter to the rice and mix.

To assemble, take half the mutton out of the cooker and layer the rice to cover the mutton completely. Sprinkle half the coriander leaves on the rice and then top it with mutton and spread it evenly over the rice. Layer the rest of the rice over the mutton and spread around evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the coriander leaves. Melt the balance butter and sprinkle it over the rice and down the sides of the cooker. The original recipe did not have layers instead once the mutton was cooked, all of the rice was added on the mutton and cashew nuts and raisins were added. Then the biryani was cooked on dum.
Place a tawa on heat and keep the covered cooker on top of it and give the biryani dum on low heat for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Let it rest for some time before serving - I think Biryani tastes best when it rests an hour or two before serving. Our Mutton Biryani Nagercoil style is ready.

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