Biriyani isn’t just food – it’s an emotion. It can fix a bad day or make a “Royal” meal, and it always has a place in Indian households. Different regions of India have their own specialty biriyanis that taste drastically different. While we can’t argue over which is the best biriyani, here’s my mom’s take on Kolkata-style biriyani.
Kolkata-style biriyani is mildly spicy with the aroma of meetha atar and kewra water. The spice-infused big pieces of potatoes take the experience to the next level. The meat (chicken/mutton) is slow-cooked in aromatic spices and melts in your mouth, taking you on a ride of flavors.
Unlike other recipes on my blog, this recipe takes time (3 hours), but I assure you that you won’t regret the effort.
The following recipe makes biriyani for 8 adults.
Things you need:
- Basmati Rice (1 kg) You must use Basmati rice for the best result, as the rice has a signature aroma which makes any dish 10 times better. Dehradun rice is a cheaper alternative available in market.
- Chicken / Mutton (1.5 kg)
- Chopped onion (400 g)
- Onion paste (250 g for mutton/1 tbsp for chicken)
- Ginger paste (100 g)
- Garlic paste (2 big garlic for mutton/1 big garlic for chicken)
- Red chili powder (2 tsp)
- Thick yohurt (200 g)
- Sugar (2 tbsp)
- Garam Masala powder (2 tbsp)
- Whole spices (Cardamom 10 pcs, Clove 5 pcs, black pepper 5 pcs, Cinnamon stick 4-5 small pcs)
- Nutmeg, “Jaitri” in Bengali (1 tsp)
- Bay leaves (5 leaves)
- Ghee/Clarified butter (200 g)
- Vegetable oil (250 ml)
- Milk (1 cup)
- Lime juice (3 tbsp)
- Rose water (2 tbsp)
- Kewra water (2 tbsp)
- Meetha Atar (3-4 drops) The aromatic elements like rose water, kewra water and meetha atar create the classic Kolkata biriyani.
- Dry roasted Shahi jeera, Jeera(cumin), Coriander powder in equal portion (2 tbsp)
- Black pepper powder (1 tsp)
- Potato (1 kg)
- Egg (8)
- Flour (optional)
- Mix 1 cup milk with 2 tbsp rose water, 2 tbsp kewra water, 3-4 meetha atar, 1 tbsp sugar (sugar is optional), 1 tbsp garam masala powder, 1/2 tbsp nutmeg.
- Clean the raw meat thoroughly with water.
- Add the yogurt, 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp sugar, onion, ginger, garlic paste, 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tbsp garam masala powder, shahi jeera + jeera/cumin + dhaniya/coriander 2 tbsp, jaitri/nutmeg 1/2 tsp, salt to the meat. Massage the meat well with spices. Keep aside the meat for minimum 1 hr.
- Wash the rice thoroughly 3-4 times. Soak the rice in water for half an hour then drain the water.
- Peel the potatoes. Chop them into large pieces. Boil them turmeric+ salt water. Toast them lightly then.
- Boil the eggs and peel them.
- In a clean cloth, take 4 bay leaves, 5 crushed cardamoms, 5 cloves, and 5 peppercorns along with 4-5 small cinnamon sticks. Add them to the water before adding rice.
- Add the rice to the pot when the water boils. Add lime juice and a pinch of salt. Drain the water when the rice is slightly undercooked, then set aside the cloth bag.
- Fry the onions in ghee until they are lightly browned, then set aside.
- Add oil to a pan and then add 5 cardamoms and 2-3 bay leaves. Next, add the meat and cook it until the oil separates from the gravy (no additional water is added until this point). Now, pour warm water over the meat and add potatoes. If using a pressure cooker, let it whistle once after adding potatoes.
- Collect the oil floating at the top of the gravy.
- Once the meat is cooked, take some of the gravy out (4-5 spoons). The cooked meat would be semi-dry.
- In a large pan add ghee and the gravy that was set aside. Add some rice. Make a layer of meat (chicken/mutton), potato, boiled egg, fried onions, milk + aromatics mix (see preparation 1st step).
Keep rice and meat in alternative layers until both are finished. At the top, add the oil collected at step 4 from meat gravy.
- Cover the pan with a lid and seal it with dough. Place the pan on a double boiler for 20-30 minutes to prevent burning the bottom layer of biriyani.
Your biryani is ready to be eaten! As I write this recipe, I’m salivating just thinking about the taste. Give it a try and let me know how it turned out in the comments below!
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