There are all such fond memories of home during Christmas. Its not the same here in UK. Of course the appams and the biryani’s are all very much omnipresent, but I feel terribly home sick around Christmas time and give the husband quite a hard time about it.
Beef biryani is not something that is made on Christmas day- its usually a chicken or a mutton biryani- but i thought I’d give a twist to tradition with a beef version, which is just as good. The recipe may look long and a bit intimidating for first timers, but its actually not that cumbersome, especially if you manage to make the beef curry a day or two in advance
Beef- 1 kg, diced
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Pepper powder- 1 tsp
Yoghurt- 4 tbsp
Salt- to taste
For the masala
Oil- 2 tbsp
Onions- 2 large, roughly chopped
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Ginger- 2 1/2 tbsp, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 2 1/2 tbsp, peeled and roughly chopped
Green chillies- 3 to 4 (increase or decrease as per tolerance level)
Tomatoes- 2, finely chopped
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 2 tsp
Fennel powder- 1/2 tsp
Biryani masala powder- 1 tsp (optional)
Mint leaves- 1/4 cup, finely chopped
Coriander leaves- 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Water- 1/2 to 3/4th cup
Khus Khus (white poppy seeds)- 1 tbsp, soaked in water
For the rice
Ghee- 2 tbsp
Cloves- 5 pods
Cardamom- 5 pods
Cinnamon- 2, 1 inch sticks
Star anise- 1
Bay leaves- 2
Basmati rice- 3 1/2 cups (I used Tilda long grain rice)
Water- 7 to 8 cups
Salt- to taste
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Ghee- 3 tbsp
Onions- 1/4 cup, julienned
Cashew nuts- 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup
Marinate the beef with all the ingredients under the ‘to marinate’ section. Keep aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Grind together the ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Soak the khus khus in water for about 15 minutes, and grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside.
Wash and soak the rice in cold water for about 30 minutes.
Also get the garnish ingredients ready by heating the ghee in a pan and frying the onions and cashew nuts, separately till they turn golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and keep aside.
Into a pressure cooker pour the ghee.
Keeping the heat on medium, add the chopped onions and curry leaves and cook till they turn a light brown in colour. This could take around 10 to 12 minutes.
Add the crushed ginger-garlic-chilli paste and continue cooking till the raw smell disappears.
Add the tomato and cook till they turn mushy and the oil starts to slightly separate.
Stir in all the spice powders- garam masala, chilli powder, coriander powder, fennel powder and biryani masala (if using).
Season with salt, saute for about 2 minutes, and then tip in the marinated beef and all its juices.
Add the mint and coriander leaves, give a good stir and then pour in about 1/2 cup water.
Bring to a boil, and close the cooker.
Put the weights on once the steam comes and cook the beef on medium heat for about 4 to 5 whistles or till the beef is completely cooked.
Wait for the steam to die on its own and then open the lid.
If you feel the gravy is too loose, then slow cook it till you feel its thick-ish. Alternatively, if you feel there is not enough gravy then add some more water. Remember you need enough water to mix with the rice and make it moist.
Stir in the ground khus khus, check for salt, add more if needed and take the meat off heat.
While the beef is cooking get the rice ready.
In a large pot (enough to hold around 8 cups of water) heat the ghee.
Throw in the whole spices and sauté for a couple of seconds, just to get the aromas going, on medium heat. Put a kettle of water to boil at this point.
Add the drained rice and fry for a couple of seconds.
Add about 7 to 8 cups of water to the rice followed by salt and lemon juice. Stir well and wait for it to boil on high heat.
Once the water starts boiling, time it and cook the rice to an almost al dente form, for about 6 to 8 minutes maximum on a rolling boil.
Keep stirring in between, but make sure the rice doesn’t break and get over cooked.
Drain immediately into a colander.
To assemble, smear the bottom of a large heavy bottomed pan with ghee. Use left over ghee from frying the cashew and onions.
Spread a layer of rice and then sprinkle half a tsp each of the chopped coriander leaves, fried onions and cashew over the rice
Top with a layer of the beef curry. Spread it out as gently as possible.
Tip in the remaining rice, spread it out and sprinkle the remaining biryani masala powder and coriander leaves. Continue the layers till you run out of both, but with the rice layer right at the top.
Close with a tight lid, making sure no steam escapes, reduce heat to the lowest possible and let it warm up for about 10-15 minutes.
When done, scatter around the remaining fried onions and cashews and serve hot with some raita, pappad and pickle.
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