Monday, 27 October 2008

Thalassery Mutton Dum Biryani

Biryani is the most common festive dish in Kerala Muslim society. Apart from that many will be familiar with this exotic dish by hearing from somewhere and somehow. I remember my mom saying that during past, that is quite long ago; during the time of my parents wedding, the main course used to be Ghee rice along with chicken curry in the afternoon and some home made snacks in the morning. I don’t remember the names of snack that my mom mentioned, but I will update on that once I get to talk to her about it. Until 6-7 years back, Biryani used to be the only main course for any Muslim wedding accompanied by Alisa, raita, pickles and if it goes a bit more posh, chicken fry as well. Nowadays the marriages are even getting more lavish with many varieties of food apart from Biryani and Alisa including Naan, battura, fried rice, different curries, like chicken chilly, mutton Korma, vegetable korma etc, salads, fruits and not to be missed- different kinds of desserts like the ever famous muttamaala that is made of Duck eggs with a steamed pudding made mainly of egg whites and sugar and then strands of egg yolks cooked in sugar syrup sprinkled on top of it., Ilaneer pudding, semiya payasam and many others. The only thing you need to have while attending the wedding these days is an extra tummy or starving the day before the wedding to at least taste everything.

Again, the taste of Biryani differs from home to home. I have had Biryani from different relatives of mine and each time I have them, they have a different taste. This is my mom’s version of Mutton Dum Biryani and it tastes real good. Chicken Biryani can also be prepared in the same way.

Thalassery Mutton Dum BiryaniServes 6-8 hungry people

For Ghee rice:4 cups Basmati rice
6 cups water
1 cup onion sliced (1 medium size onion)
1 tsp cumin seeds
6 cardamom pods
6-8 cloves
5-6 small pieces of cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
½ cup clarified butter (Ghee)
Salt to taste

For Biryani masala:
1 ¼ kg of mutton
4 cups chopped onion (4 medium-large onions)
3 ½ tbsful freshly crushed garlic (15 cloves)
3 tbs freshly crushed ginger (4")
1 ½ cup chopped tomatoes (4 medium size tomatoes)
10-15 Green chillies (depending on pungency)
1 tsp pepper powder
½ cup Chopped Coriander leaves
¼ cup Fresh mint leaves chopped
2 tsp lime juice
2 tbs curd
½ tsp garam masala + extra to sprinkle on rice while layering.
Oil – 3-4 tbs
Salt as required

Step by step guide to prepare Dum Biryani:Method to prepare Biryani masala:

1. Wash mutton well, pat dry with a kitchen towel and keep aside.

2. Add ginger, garlic and chillies together in the processor and crush it well.

3. Slice and chop onions into further small pieces.

4. Heat a Large vessel and add oil. Sauté chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and onions along with salt until the onions become translucent.

5. Add chopped tomatoes. When the tomatoes starts to soften, add mutton, pepper powder and cook until almost done. This can be pressure cooked as well. After the mutton is cooked, if there is lot of gravy in the pot, make sure you boil them off to get a thick gravy.

6. Add lime juice and chopped coriander and mint leaves. When the meat is completely cooked, Add curd and stir well. Don’t boil. Add garam masala and close lid to infuse in the flavour.

Method to prepare Ghee rice:
1. Wash rice and strain off all the excess water by placing the rice in colander.

2. Boil water in the kettle or a large cooking vessel.

3. In another large pan, set the heat on to high and add ghee. When the ghee gets hot add onions and sauté until the onions just starts turning pink. At this stage add cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon and cumin seeds and sauté for a minute until the aroma of the spices starts coming out. Add the required amount of boiling water and salt to this.

4. Tip in the rice slowly and cook on high heat by keeping the lid open. When almost all the water has evaporated (you must be able to see the bottom of the pan with no water ), close the lid tightly and let it cook for around 6-10 minutes depending on the rice, or may be more. In between you can toss the bottom part of rice and bring to top so that the rice gets cooked evenly. Once the rice is completely cooked, fluff it using a fork or a large spatula carefully without breaking up the rice. While the rice is still hot, do the assembling.

For layering the biryani and final cooking:
1. Divide the rice in three parts and Biriyani masala in 2 parts.

2. Take a large heavy base vessel and rub it with oil or ghee. Layer the bottom of the vessel with the first part of the rice. Sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala all over and pour first part of biryani masala along with meat all over the rice. Tip in the second part of rice and sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala all over again. Pour the second part of Biryani masala on top of the rice and put the last part of rice and sprinkle all over with garam masala again. So now you have layers of rice and masala that’s goes like this: rice, Biryani masala, rice, Biryani masala and again rice.

3. Cover the entire vessel with foil (to ensure that full steam stays in), then close the lid tightly. Place a weight (you can also use any vessel filled with water for this) over this vessels and cook on hob top for about 20 minutes at very low heat. This is to infuse the flavour of the biryani masala into the rice and this process of cooking is called ‘Dum’. At this point of time u can see that all rice on top has curved up.

4. You can also do the layering in an ovenproof vessel and place it in a preheated oven at a very low temperature for about 20-30 minutes for the final cooking. I never tried this, but my friends do it this way.
Just before serving, garnish with fried onions, cashews and raisins. Enjoy with Cucumber Raita, tomato and onion salad, Coconut chutney, pickle and pappadams!

Important Notes and tips:
For Biryani:
Always remember: Cook Biryani masala before cooking rice. Never cook rice before masala. You can always prepare the Biryani masala a day ahead and later on use it whenever you need them also.

For Biryani masala:
The most important thing to be noted is that there should be only minimal water in the Biryani masala. The masala should be quite thick. Else during dum, the rice will absorb so much of water and will be over cooked and mushy. Since the mutton and onions release lot of water by the end of cooking, there will be lot of moisture in the masala. Turn the heat up and dry off the excess water until you get thick gravy. Take care to stir in between else it might get burnt.

For Ghee rice:
1. Never wait until the onions get brown or golden as this will change the colour of rice completely. You will get a golden rice rather than usual white.

2. Flame adjustment is very necessary while cooking rice. Keep the flame/heat high until u see all the rice has come on top and water has gone down but still the rice is not cooked. At this stage lower the flame and cook until done.

3. If you carefully notice, you can see that I have used less water for ghee rice for Biryani than the normal ghee rice. Since Biryani masala will be having some moisture, the rice will absorb it evenly. If you use more water than stated, again, the rice will go soggy.


Indu said...

This is such a detailed recipe--thank you so much. :)

One doubt:
Biriyani masala
Add chopped tomatoes. When the tomatoes starts to soften, add mutton, pepper powder, turmeric powder and cook until almost done. This can be pressure cooked as well.

How do I pressure cook it ? with no water?

Shabs.. said...

:)....Dont add water at all....pressure cook at medium heat for nearly half an hour....check in between,if its not completely cooked,cook for few more minutes.Hope it helps.

Esha Nambiar said...

Heyy Shab! Thanks a ton for your recipe!! I made the biriyani and it turned out brilliant! :D I'm really happy with the results! Thanks so much for sharing it with us! You are awesome! :)

Shabs.. said...

Hi Esha.....Thx alot for ur comments, compliments and coming back to me with the feedback...Thats really nice of you...Im happy you liked it.Visit again...:)

Rihan Farman said...

was searching for thalassery biriyani recipes. and this is just what the doctor ordered..Gonna try it this sunday. Cheers

Shabs.. said...

Hi, rihan, thx for stopping by. Try it and let me know. Thx.

Rihan Farman said...

This one turned out to be perfect.. Simple and well explained.Didn find any flaws ..I tried the same with chicken and it was delicious too. But for chicken i marinated it with chilli and turmeric.and then fried it in oil . Would you mind posting chicken biriyani recipe if its different from the above?

Shabs.. said...

hi rihan, thx for feedback. Glad u liked it. my mom makes chicken also in the same way. I make hyderabadi biriyani and it's good, but dono when Im gonna make it again. When i make it, i will post it for u.

A drop in the dunes said...

Thanks shab,
very detailed recipe. Definitley will try today & post the result later

Shabs.. said...

Hi mahar, thx for stopping try and let me know....hope u like it..

Anonymous said...

hai shab,I am shabna from calicut.I tried this biryani recipe with chicken since I don't like mutton.Taste is excellent.But can you tell me how to prepare the garam masala for this at home ?

Shabs.. said...

Hi shabna,
Thx for trying and letting me know the results....I have posted the chicken biriyani recipe which is quite similar to this. That would taste really good too....I am planning to make my mothers garam masala powder at home soon...just waiting for my garama masala to get over:)...keep visiting.

sanjeethanavas said...


firstly i read some of ur recipes they all wonderful and simple .
honestly i am not a good cook , but i love to do more. most of the time i will be disappointed . i never had the consistancy in taste.

i love ur recipes and i will try the mutton (thalassery) biriyani.

before i go ahead withh biriyani , i would like to know what will make a nice garam masala . if u can give me some tips like what all i have to take and how much


Shabs.. said...

Hi sangeetha,
thanks for ur compliments n comments. Like u i never knew to cook before 3 years and i used to be disapointed too....but thats how you learn cooking, so dont worry....again i had the passion like u n my cooking got better n better....if u have the passion to cook, u can do it, it might take a while n experince to get perfect results.
about garam masala, i buy the eastern garam masala.thats good. im not sure how to make garam masala. you can find a recipe for a garam masala on chk that out.

sanjeetha navas said...

hi shabs

i made chicken biriyani on friday and i followed ur recipe step by step . it was fantastic. my husband also liked and he appreciated .

i will try other recipes as well .

thank u

Anonymous said...

hi shabeena... how u doing.... my hubby has gone crazy for thalassery i hav forgot my own style of cookin biriyani... thalassery biriyani really turned out good.. and i hav only recieved thumps up....
but i hav one doubt regarding the measurement of ghee 1/2 cup- is it melted or unmelted ghee...

Shabs.. said...

Hi sanjeetha, thank u so much for gettig back to me. Im glad u like dthe recipe and ur family as well....See you can cook well.:)

Hey anon, whos this?...looks like someone i know so close...Please leave ur name or nickname so tha i can realize....About the ghee...that measurement is for unmelted ghee...


Anonymous said...

i made this dish yesterday it was actually a fantastic recipe, Gopal one of my neighbour liked it yummmyyyy yuuummmny taste very much ......

Ramya said...

Hi shabs, I have a doubt here. "Heat a Large vessel and add oil. Sauté chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and onions along with salt until the onions become translucent."

Do u mean the ginger,garlic and chillies that was crushed in the processor? Do u just crush it, i use another recipe in which it is ground to a fine paste...

Shabs.. said...

Hi ramya,
Thanks for stopping by...Regarding your doubt, You can grind it to fine paste. But here, I dint have a indian grinder, so I have to crush it in processor.These days i always grind them to fine paste Make sure you follow the number of cloves and size of ginger when you are using paste, because when you grind to paste, the volume can differ from the crushed ones...It wouldnt be 3 tablespoon of ginger and garlic. Adjust accordingly..

Anonymous said...

Hi shabs,
I made this tonight for dinner and invited freinds over as well. Everyone loved it so much that they asked for the recipe. I gave all the link to your site. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipes. Not to forget, your pics are absolutely stunning!


Anonymous said...

Hi shabs,
I made this tonight for dinner and invited freinds over as well. Everyone loved it so much that they asked for the recipe. I gave all the link to your site. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipes. Not to forget, your pics are absolutely stunning!


reshmakaloor said...

Thank u so much Shabs for sharing such a wonderful recipe. I tried it today n ma hubby liked it very much.

വല്യമ്മായി said...

Hi shabs,

I have tried the neypathiri's and meen pathiri and the result was superb.

We used to cook the Mutton with pepper powder,turmeric powder and salt before adding it to Masala.

Anonymous said...

Your above recipe had been copied and published in with few changes

Gayathri Ramdas Sreekanth said...

Dear Shabs...thanks for such a detailed recipe. I tried this over the last weekend with chicken and my husband loved it and we had only this for two days. Just that when I modified the recipe to 2.5 cups, my final outcome didn't turn out as spicy as I wanted to. I guess I did a few measurement errors. But would definitely try this out again till I get it right and strongly recommend it to other readers looking for a true thalassery biryani !

Abdyk Kader said...

You're REAL good Shabs...God Bless.. Tried out the Malabar Chicken Biriyani..Grreatt!

Shabs.. said...

Thanks for letting me know. I have asked them to take it off or give courtesy. They never responded!

Shabs.. said...

Thank you so much. I am glad you liked it.:)

Anonymous said...

Tried was yummylicious!!! Thnks a ton for dis recipe!!

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