Sunday 22 October 2017

Keema Biryani...Sunday traditions!

Keema Biryanitraditionstough to explain traditions to people unless you are in the mood to deliver lengthy monologueswhether religious, national or family traditions, one needs to have short explanations which the other person can relate toeasilygive your audience the hook first, no? My short version of explaining Diwali? It’s just like Christmas but noisier!  My short version of explaining Biryani? It’s like Sunday Roast but tastier! 😜 You may or may not agree with these explanationsbut do gather around people you love and enjoy your own special traditions 😊

Keema Biryani


For Roasted Spice powder:

  • Fennel seeds, 1 tbsp
  • Star Anise, 2-3 small petals
  • Cinnamon stick, 1 small stick

For Keema Masala:

  • Minced meat, Mutton(goat)/ Lamb/Beef, 500gms
  • Bayleaf, 1-2
  • Cinnamon Stick, 1-2
  • Black Cardamom, 1
  • Green Cardamom, 3-4
  • Cloves, 4-5
  • Cumin seeds, 1 tsp
  • Onions, finely sliced, 2 large
  • Fresh Green chillies, finely chopped, 2-3
  • Yogurt, 1 cup
  • Fresh Ginger Garlic paste, 2 tbsp (1:1 ratio of ginger to garlic)
  • Coriander powder, 1 ½ tsp
  • Cumin powder, 1 ½ tsp
  • Kashmiri Chilli powder, 1 ½ tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil,
  • Mint leaves, chopped, 2 tbsp
  • Coriander leaves, chopped, 1 tbsp

For Rice:

  • Rice, 500gms
  • Cinnamon Stick, 1-2
  • Green Cardamom, 2-3
  • Cloves, 4-5
  • Cumin seeds, 1 tsp
  • Fennel Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, 1 tbsp
  • Water

For assembling:

  • Ghee, to coat the pan (or butter)
  • Milk, ½ cup
  • Warm Milk, ½ cup infused with a generous pinch of Saffron
  • Ghee, 4-5 tbsp (or butter)
  • Green chillies, sliced and seeds removed, 2-3
  • Mint leaves, finely chopped, 1 tbsp
  • Coriander leaves, finely chopped, ½ tbsp
  • Nutmeg powder, ½ tsp


Roasted Spice powder:

In a small pan on low heat, lightly roast the fennel seeds, star anise and cinnamon stick till fragrant. Let cool and grind together to a fine powder.

Keema Masala:

Heat oil in a pan and add whole garam masala- bay leaf, cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamoms, cloves and cumin seeds.

Once the spices start spluttering, add the sliced onions and cook on medium-low heat, stirring, till they turn light golden brown.

Add the keema and chopped green chillies. Cook, stirring to break up lumps, till keema is well browned and all the water released from the keema dries up.

Lower the heat, add ginger garlic paste and roasted spice powder made earlier, stir well and sauté for 2-3 minutes.

In the meanwhile, whisk the yogurt with salt, coriander powder, cumin powder and kashmiri chilli powder.

Lower the heat, add the yogurt mix to the keema and stir well to combine.

Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally for 30-35 minutes or until fully cooked with fat completely separated.

Add in the chopped mint and coriander leaves. Stir, cover and keep aside.


Wash the rice till water runs clear with few changes of water and soak in cold water for at least 20 minutes.

Put a large vessel with sufficient water to cook the rice (about a litre and a half).

(Wrap and tie the whole spices in a small piece of muslin cloth. This will ensure that rice gets the flavor of the spices while boiling but spices can be taken out without any hassle. If you don’t have muslin cloth, simply boil the water with the whole spices for around 15 minutes and then strain and use the water)

Add the whole spices, salt, and oil to the water.

Once the water comes to a rolling boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes to ensure the spices completely infuse their flavor into the water.

Increase the heat, let water come to a rolling boil again, add the rice and cook till the rice is almost three quarters done (the rice grain if broken should have a bite to it)

Drain the rice in a large colander and set aside to rest to ensure all the water drains out completely. (Don’t forget to discard the spice bag)


Brush the base and side of a deep casserole with ghee or butter.

Cover the base with a half of the cooked rice.

Spread the cooked keema masala over the rice. Sprinkle over ½ cup of plain milk, half of the ghee and all of the chopped mint and coriander leaves.

Cover with rest of the rice.

Make holes in the rice and keema layers with back of a long spoon and sprinkle over the saffron infused milk. Finish off with the remaining ghee, nutmeg powder and lastly spread the green chillies on top.

Cover the dish with foil or grease proof paper and a tight fitting lid.

Place the dish in preheated oven at 170C for a final cooking time of 25-30 minutes (or cook on indirect flame on the stove- heat a tawa/skillet on stove, place the casserole on top of the skillet and let cook on low heat)

Let rest for 10 minutes.

Once done, fork the rice gently, garnish with coriander and/or mint leaves and serve warm with accompaniments of your choice.

To save time:

  • Wash and soak the rice first.
  • While the rice is soaking, chop and start cooking the onions. This takes time, so keep the flame medium-low and check back as you simultaneously move to the next step.
  • Roast and grind the spices, prepare ginger and garlic paste, chop mint, coriander and green chillies, make the yogurt mix for the keema, soak saffron in warm milk, make the spice bag for the rice.
  • Put water and spices to boil for the rice and move on with cooking the keema.
  • Add rice to the boiling water and keep a close eye – you can’t afford to move away from the stove at this stage! Not overcooking the rice is critical to a good biryani.\
  • Drain the rice and let cool while you finish cooking the keema masala.
  • Assemble and final cooking of biryani