Biryani, will forever have a place in my heart. It always amazed me how something with humble beginnings such as rice, can have so much character in a dish. I will forever be thankful to the Indians and Middle easterners to create such a beautiful rice dish that has a wide array of variations. By no means am I a Biryani expert, I just like to eat it! But living in Colorado means, I no longer eat it as much as I used to in Singapore, but that won't stop me either!
Dum biryani is usually cooked over the fire in a large pot over a carefully watched fire for long periods of time, and it requires at least two extra stages of cooking...meaning MORE DISHES TO WASH. Soooo...what does a mother of three with no social life and have hardly any time to do anything would do? Well, you Crockpot it of course. It makes enough for both lunch and dinner and still with leftovers. What's great about this method is that it ensures that you won't get blacken burnt rice bottom, you skip two extra cooking processes, and still yield the same delicious food minus the work! (Triple win!!!!!)
Step 1: Your Biryani Spice Mix
Almost everybody has their own version of Biryani mix, and that's cool. What I concocted have the similar taste of what I ate growing up, a cross between Hyderabadi and rice pilaf. I don't have a few spices like Nigella or Asafetida and that's okay, we still can have the biryani flavor coming through from most of the spices we are using, the sweet raisins, cilantro and mint.
Ingredients for The Biryani Spice Mix:
6 Tablespoons of Turmeric powder
4 Tablespoons of Coriander powder
3 Tablespoon of Chilli powder (more or less according to your heat preferences)
1 Teaspoon of Mustard seeds
2 Star Aniseed
5 Green Cardamoms
1 Teaspoon of whole cloves
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Black pepper
1 Tablespoon of White granulated sugar
1/2 Teaspoon of salt
Place all of your whole and powdered spices in a blender or coffee grinder. Grind them until smooth, a few little stubborn shell chunks is not to worry about. You will yield approximately a cup and a half in total. But will only need a 4-5 heap dinner spoonful (about 8 accurate tablespoonful) for the marinate.
Step 2: Soaking Your Basmati Rice
Soaking your rice will give it a head start in the steaming process. Even though most websites says you just need to soak it for at least 30 minutes, most Indian chefs would recommend soaking it overnight. If you don't have the time or just thought about it at the last minute, just pour about 1/2 cup of water before turning on your crockpot.
3 Cups of Basmati rice (divide 1 cup for the Yellow Rice)
4-5 cups of Tap water
1 Tablespoon of Salt
Pour 2 cups of Basmati rice into a bowl and start rinsing the rice twice to remove any impurities. Discard the water. Then pour enough water to cover the rice, add in your salt and let it sit as long as possible. Don't worry about the amount of salt, we can discarding the salt water before placing it in the crockpot.
Step 3: Yellow Marbling
Using the same technique as the previous rice, do the same for this. Except this time, add 1 tablespoon of turmeric powder and a few drops of yellow food coloring. You can skip this step entirely if you wish to keep it white or do not consume food coloring.
Step 4: Soaking Your Raisins
You will need:
1/2 cup of raisins or golden raisins
Presoak your raisins in warm water first before adding it into your biryani. This helps them give off a sweeter and juicier bite instead of it being chewy.
Step 5: Biryani Ingredients!
3 cups total of Basmati rice (both white & yellow), soaked and drained
4 heaping dinner spoonful of Biryani Spice Mix
1 medium white Onion
3 Garlic cloves
1 inch of ginger, skinned
5 pounds of Lamb meat, big cuts
2 oz of Plain greek yogurt
1 cup of Cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup of mint, chopped
2 Tomatoes, big diced
1 cup of Fried onions
1 cup of presoaked raisins
Note on meat: Pick a meat that is full of fat and flavor. The fat will make your Biryani taste incredible adding so much depth into the rice. You can use lamb, beef chunks or even chicken thighs with skin. Avoid trimming the fat away. If there is little fat to begin with, add a few dots of butter to replace the missing fats.
Step 6: Marinating Your Lamb
Begin by placing your onions, ginger and garlic into a blender and blend into a paste. Then pour your paste into a mixing bowl together with your yogurt, spice mix and lamb. Mix and coat your lamb meat thoroughly.
Step 7: Begin Layering
We begin by placing your marinated lamb into the bottom of your crockpot. Lay it flat, so it gets in contact with the heating element more.
Then pour half of your rice. Make sure to scatter them evenly so they will cook more evenly. If you have yellow rice, scatter them evenly too so they will create a very nice marbling effect.
Then place your toppings like fried onions, raisins, cilantro and mint.
Then pour the remaining half of your white and yellow rice. Followed by your toppings again.
Step 11: Cooking Directions
If needed, pour about 1/2 to 1 cup of water into your rice evenly, if you didn't soak the rice for 24 hours.
Cook on high for 2-3 hours until lamb is cook and the rice is tender and fluffy. Fluff it up with a spoon so any steam will not bog the bottom. Or cook on low for 6-8 hours.
If you are available, stir occasionally so the steam doesn't bog the bottom and the top layer of the rice have a chance to seep some of the Biryani spice too.
Serving options: You can eat this on it's own or with a side of curry or some spicy and sweet chutney on the side. Enjoy!