May’s dish of the month features the recipe for mutton biryani with dried fruits and Kashmiri spices, from the new cookbook Vivek Singh’s Indian Festival Feasts – out 1st June.
As the month of Ramadan begins all over the world, this is a feasting dish perfect for Eid-ul-Fitr, the celebration that rounds up Ramadan. A biryani of some description is always a regulation dish at celebrations, but at Eid the Kashmiri version is often preferred as it is rich and made even more special by the use of dried fruit and nuts. Much as at all other celebrations where the dishes remain similar but the ingredients or their quality change with the status of the family, this dish is judged by both the quantity and the array of nuts and dried fruits included.
As made by Vivek on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen – catch up on the show here!
For the marinade
For the biryani
1kg mutton from leg or shoulder, bone removed, cut into 2.5cm/1in cubes
500g basmati rice, rinsed and soaked in water for 20 minutes, then drained
½ lime, juice only
¼ tbsp salt
150g ghee or vegetable oil
60g walnut halves
4 green cardamom pods
5cm piece of cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
seeds from 2 black cardamom pods
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp saffron strands, soaked in 120ml warm milk or water
few drops rosewater or kewra water
30g dried figs or apricots
30g dried cranberries
20g fresh mint leaves
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, add the meat and stir to coat. Cover and put in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes, or if possible overnight.
Meanwhile, bring 2.5 litres pints of water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the rice, lime juice and salt and boil for 6 minutes, until the rice is two-thirds cooked. Drain the rice and spread it out on a tray to cool.
Heat 120g of the ghee or vegetable oil in a wide, heavy-based casserole dish. Add the raisins and fry for 30 seconds, or until they puff up, then remove them and drain on kitchen paper. Add the walnuts and fry for 30 seconds, then remove them and drain on kitchen paper.
Add the green cardamom pods, cinnamon and bay to the casserole and fry for 30–60 seconds. Add the cumin and black cardamom seeds. Add the meat and marinade and cook for 10–12 minutes over a high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the coriander, garam masala and 250ml of water and cook, covered, over a medium heat for 30 minutes, or until the meat is almost cooked and about 235ml of sauce remains in the pan. Add a little more water to make up the liquid if needed.
To assemble, spread an even layer of the rice over the cooked meat and sauce, sprinkle the saffron milk, rose water, fried raisins and walnuts, figs or apricots, cranberries and mint over the rice and dot with the remaining ghee.
Cover with a tightly fitting lid and cook over a medium–low heat for 12–15 minutes, turning the pan every 3–4 minutes to prevent it from catching, until the dish is hot and steaming and the rice and meat are cooked. Set aside for another 5 minutes, then open the pot and serve.