Goat Biryani Recipe

Goat Biryani Recipe Recipe

One of our dear old family friends begged me to teach her how to make biryani. This week, she came over and I shared our treasured family recipe. I've learned several variations of biryani over the years, but this goat meat version from Pali Apa's (Lulu's aunt) is my favorite. As a bonus, it's probably the easiest to start with when learning how to make biryani. The key to the dish is the freshness of the meat, but it's also important that the rice is flavorful and fluffy and each grain separates easily. 

This might be surprising, but biryani is probably one of the most praised and popular Indian dishes in Vietnam. There is a small Indian expat community in Saigon, and they have been selling this dish as street food for many years. Love for this dish outside of the subcontinent is not just limited to Vietnam. Many times when we have company, I've been asked how to make this traditional Hyderabadi (the city where my husband's family is from) delicacy. So if you've been searching for a good biryani recipe, give this a try, and if you've never had it before, you're in for a treat.

Ingredients

Yields: 10 servings

3 pounds goat meat, boneless and bone-in meat
3 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil)
2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste (see tips)
6 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
3 cloves
1 teaspoon red chili powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons papaya paste (see tips)
¼ cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons garam masala
1½ teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons salt, to taste
1½ cups yellow onions (about 2 onions), chopped and fried
½ teaspoon saffron threads
3 tablespoons butter, thinly sliced
juice of 2 limes
4 green bird chiles
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 cups basmati rice


Directions

The day before...

Marinating the meat:

The pieces should be about 1½" chunks. Wash the goat meat thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels.

Dry roast 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, cloves, coriander seeds and black peppercorns. Grind all the spices in a spice grinder (I use a coffee mill that I keep exclusively for grinding spices).

Extract the seeds from 2 cardamom pods. In a mortar and pestle, grind the cardamom seeds. Crush and gather the cardamom powder. 

Strain out the excess whey of the yogurt through a cheese cloth for about 15 minutes. Add all ingredients of the marinade (ginger garlic paste, ¼ teaspoon red chili powder, the juice of 1 lime, papaya paste, garam masala spice mix, the rest of the ground spices and oil) and mix together with the yogurt.

Place the meat in a mixing bowl. Season it with salt, ¾ teaspoon chili powder and black pepper. Rub evenly. Spread the yogurt mixture over the goat meat. Make sure the marinade penetrates and coats the meat. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day...

Preparing the rice:

Wash and thoroughly rinse the rice in several water baths (about three times). Place in a large bowl; cover with water. Add the lime juice and soak for at least 1 hour. Drain as much water as possible.

Fill a large pot with about 4 quarts of water. Add the 4 cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves and the remaining cumin seeds. Bring to a boil. Add the rice. Bring the liquid back to a boil, then immediately lower the heat to a gentle boil. That way the rice will cook evenly all the way through. Cook for about 7 minutes at a bubbly simmer. Add 1 teaspoon of salt half-way through the cooking process. Keep stirring the rice every now and then so it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pot. The grains of rice should still be a little hard, about 2/3 of the way cooked. Check often and do NOT wait until the grains are soft (see tips); this step is crucial. Drain the liquid from the rice using a fine mesh colander. Do NOT rinse. Discard the liquid. Set aside.

Assembly time:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator.

In a mortar and pestle, grind  the saffron threads into a fine powder. Add about ¼ cup water into the mortar and pestle (saffron is quite expensive, so don't waste it!). 

In a large deep pot (you can find large aluminum pots in most Indian markets), heat the oil. As soon as the oil is hot, temporarily remove the pot from the stove and place the meat chunks with the marinade at the bottom of the pot. Add the whole green chiles and fresh mint. Season with salt. Add a thin layer of fried onions and cover with half the rice. Season with salt and add another layer of fried onions. Repeat the same procedure with more rice. 

Using the pestle (the stick) of a mortar and pestle, create 3 evenly-spaced holes (forming a triangle) in the pot of rice, drizzle the saffron water over the rice and add about ½ to ¾ cup of water into the holes in the rice. Dot with pieces of butter. Seal the pot with an aluminum sheet and cover the pot. Place on the stove over high heat for about 3-4 minutes. Steam should escape from the pot. Immediately transfer to the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow the rice to set for at least 15 minutes. Do not remove the lid.

Gently fluff the rice using long chopsticks (or a fork) without breaking the grains of rice.

Serve immediately with raita (yogurt based sauce) and chutney.

Bon appétit!


Tips

You could make this dish with chicken but this would require another cooking method. I'll post the recipe soon.

The key to a flavorful, tender goat biryani is to use fresh (not-frozen) goat meat. I don't recommend buying goat meat at Asian or regular local chain stores; the best place to buy it is from an Indian specialty market, which always carry fresh goat meat. It's popular and fairly common in Indian cuisine so there are always fresh, tender cuts available. Make sure to ask the butcher for both boneless and bone-in meat as the marrow of the bone will dissolve in the gravy and make it more flavorful. If you think goat is tough and unpleasant, it's because you haven't tried it fresh. I love how tender the goat turns out in this rice dish.

Indian cuisine always calls for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop it. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a small jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.

I use green papaya, yogurt and lime juice as meat tenderizers to ensure juicy and moist meat. The papaya paste was Baji, Lulu's late grandma's secret for tender and moist meat. Peel a green papaya. Grind the cubed papaya with seeds in a mini food processor; place about 2 teaspoons of papaya paste per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the flavor without getting freezer burn. 

Saffron is quite expensive; I usually get it at a more reasonable price at the Indian market because Indian cuisine so often calls for it.

Frying onions is easy. Chop the onion. Heat about 1 inch of canola oil in a skillet. Fry the onion in the oil, stirring frequently to prevent it from burning until the color is evenly golden brown. Drain the oil on paper towels. I always make extra so that I can vacuum-seal and store them in the freezer for future use.

I usually use plain yogurt from the Indian store or Greek-style yogurt because it has a denser consistency than the regular ones.

Some versions of this dish include hard-cooked eggs too.

If you're not serving immediately, just place the pot in the oven at 170°F (the lowest setting) until ready to serve.

 

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on July 20, 2012.


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