It is always biryani o' clock somewhere. I wish that was my line, but alas it is not although it did ring true when I found myself sitting on my front steps at 10 am a bowl of biryani in my hand. Punjabi Biryani for breakfast? Why not. I have a go to biryani, one that is my aunts recipe and it is pretty damn delicious so I will be honest and say that I never anticipated posting another. When I saw this recipe for Punjabi Biryani on Ainy Cooks, a website that has an impressive collection of Pakistani recipes, I decided it was a must try since it was pretty simple and seemed like a richer flavoured version of my own. I was not disappointed and have made it at least three times since then.
I made some changes to this Pakistani Punjabi Biryani recipe to suit our palate and my convenience (lol), but my favourite addition is the "koylay ka dum" or charcoal smoke. It is a game changer and simple enough to do. In fact my FIL was the one who taught me how.
He was amused and perhaps slightly horrified that I was adding the smoky scent to biryani, but I had very good reason to do so. See once upon a time when I used to work in Karachi one of my colleagues brought the most amazing biryanis for lunch. It became clear that I was helping myself to them a little too much when he showed up with double the amount one day because he had told his family that there was a girl in his office who loved the biryani and ate like a man. Was I embarrassed? Sure. Not enough though to stop said eating like a man. The secret ingredient, the one that made it both addictive and unusual was the charcoal smoke so I added it here. I hope Ainy won't mind my taking this liberty with her mothers Pakistani Punjabi Biryani recipe.
Pakistani Punjabi Biryani
For the Meat Mixture
- 1 lb Chicken/ Beef/ Mutton
- 1 large sliced onion
- 3 large diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp ground/grated ginger
- 1 tbsp ground/crushed garlic
- 5-6 Dried plums aloo bukharay, squeeze in lemon juice when the masala is ready if you don't have any
- ½ cup yogurt
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Red chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric power
- ½ tsp crushed coriander seeds
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp fennel seeds saunf
- 2 Large black cardamom
- 4 green cardamom
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- 6-7 whole black pepper
- Generous handfuls of chopped fresh coriander/cilantro + mint leaves
- 3-4 green chillies
For the rice
- 3 cups rice rinsed and soaked.
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 2 generous tsp salt
- Optional: Yellow food coloring a piece of coal.
- Slice your onions and cook in oil in a large pot till browned.
- Put in the ginger, garlic and tomatoes and cook till mushy.
- Add the yogurt, remaining spices, meat, green chillies and mix well.
- If cooking chicken then add one cup of hot water, bring to a boil then simmer till tender. For tougher meats i.e. beef and mutton add more water.
- Add coriander leaves and mint leaves.
- In large pot add water, salt, vinegar to the soaked rice and boil till it is parboiled i.e. most of the grain will be translucent with an opaque center.
- Strain the rice when done.
- Layer the rice in the following order: half the rice, all the meat masala, remaining rice, sprinkle over the yellow food coloring, and leave on the lowest heat setting for 15-20 minutes. I have a glass cooktop so I am in no danger of burning my rice on the lowest setting, but please exercise caution on gas stoves!
- If you are doing the 'koylay ka dum" then light a piece of coal over a flame. While it is getting nice and hot place a piece of foil inside the biryani pot (on top of the rice) and drizzle with oil. Once the coal has red hot surfaces then place it on the foil and quickly shut the lid. You can do this after your biryani is ready or add it before your set the biryani over low heat for 20 minutes. Remove the foil + coal before serving.