For the mutton curry:
Mutton – 2 lbs
Yogurt (whipped) – 1 cup
Ginger paste – 3 tbsp
Garlic paste – 3 tbsp
Red chili – 1 tbsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tbsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
Oil – 1 cup
Onions – 4 (medium-sized, finely sliced)
Cardamom – 6 (small-sized)
Dried plums – ½ cup
Lemons – 2
Tomatoes – 6 (chopped)
For boiling the rice:
Banaspati rice – 3 cups
Water (for boiling rice) – 5 to 6 quarts
Bay leaves – 4
Black cumin – 1 tsp
Black peppercorns – 6
Cloves – 6
Mint leaves – 8 to 10
Saffron – 2 generous pinches
For layering the biryani:
Green chilies – 5
Cilantro – 1 cup (chopped)
Food color – 1/4 tsp
Garam masala – 1 tsp
Lemon – 1 (juiced)
Salt – to taste
1. Wash the mutton thoroughly; marinate it with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, red chili, coriander powder, two lemons juiced, and salt. Keep aside for 30 minutes. (You can marinate the night before; it will have more flavor).
2. Heat the oil in a large wide pot, fry onions until they are golden brown. Keep an eye on the pot, you do not want to over-fry it.
3. Remove ¼ of fried onions along with some oil and reserve it for layering.
4. In the remaining oil, add marinated meat. Stir and cook for 15 minutes on medium heat. Then add chopped tomatoes and cook until all the moisture from the tomatoes is gone.
5. Next, add the tomatoes, cook on medium heat. Stir often and cook until tender. Set aside when it’s done.
Boil the rice:
6. In a large stockpot, put water to boil. Add cumin, saffron, bay leaves, peppercorns, chopped mint and cloves to the water.
7. Wash the rice and soak it in warm water. Drain the soaked rice and add to the pot when the water comes to a roaring boil.
8. Keep a close eye on the rice while it boils, it should be done in less than 10 minutes, and you can check the status of the rice by taking a few kernels out and pressing between two fingers. It should be easy to mash, but make sure it’s not super soft.
9. Keep the strainer or colander ready so you can drain water as soon as the rice is done.
Time to layer.
If you prefer to continue cooking on a stove, then grab a large heavy-bottomed pot and pour two tablespoons of oil on the bottom and skip to third step below.
1. Pre-heat the oven at 400ºF.
2. Grease a large aluminum foil tray.
3. First put a layer of rice at the bottom of the tray using half of the rice.
4. Scatter some cilantro and green chilies, sprinkle garam masala, and squeeze half a lemon.
5. Now make a layer of mutton curry, spread it evenly over the rice layer.
6. Then layer the remaining rice and put fried onion and oil on top.
7. Mix yellow food color in lemon juice (from the second half of the lemon) and add in it in several different spots by pouring a teaspoon every time.
8. Cover the tray with foil completely, or if using a pot then secure the sides carefully. Our goal is to lock the steam inside.
9. The cooking time is around 40 minutes. What we need is lots of steam, which is a sign that the biryani is done.
10. After 40 minutes, check by removing some foil or the lid, if steam comes up. Remove biryani from the oven/stove.
11. Keep it covered and serve hot with raita.