A succulent mutton biriyani, said to be the highlight of Harrisons Chennai’s menu…
It is not a secret regarding my fettish for cookbooks. But this year, I have hardly bought any. In fact, I haven’t even been touching them as well, so I have been feeling, why do I need to add more? Moreover, I am becoming really picky about my cookbooks and don’t want to have books that won’t add any value addition to whatever I have. I seem to be intrigued about picking books related to regional cuisine and food with a little bit of history. That maybe the reason why I picked up the book that I am reviewing today.
“Timeless Cuisine: Recipes from Harrisons” is a book written by Lata Kannan. For those who are from Chennai, Harrisons would be a very well known name. I wasn’t aware too much about this hotel, but after I bought the book, I did research a little and it was interesting to find that this hotel has been existing from the 1800s. It is amazing that it has managed to survive all these years and still thrive. I don’t remember when I bought the book, but I am sure it has been with me for more than
6 8 years (time flies!), hehe… I have been referring to this book for ideas, since the recipes are quite easy, yet flavorful but never got around making anything in them till I decided to try this mutton biriyani recipe.
This book is published by Westland with its first edition in 2009. The author, Latha Kannan is said to have worked with the hotel along with her brother. The book is a dedication to her eldest son, who passed away in an accident at a very young age. It is a very simple book, text-book sized with black and white pages. There are a few glossy pages in between, with some of the food pictures, but not of a high standard. However, considering that this book has been published long back without any updates, we can give it a pass. I love that the book can be easily handled in the kitchen, can be folded and kept while you refer to the recipe, and all recipes are printed on each page, ie. one page has one recipe, so there is no need for flipping back and forth. Hehe…
The book is said to have won the Gourmand “Best Culinary History Book in India 2009”. However, I really do not understand where the history is, in this book. There is a brief introduction about the hotel and then about the author, and her acknowledgments. Then the book straight goes into recipes divided on the basis of ingredients – so you have vegetarian clubbed together, then eggs, then poultry and meat, along with recipes of some accompaniments. Another pointer in this book is that it doesn’t have any sweet recipes in it. I flipped the book a few times to see I was missing something, but actually I wasn’t. I found it strange, every book I have has at least a couple of sweet recipes. 😀
One big disadvantage I found about this book was that there wasn’t much to read in it about the history of the place or how these recipes came into being. In fact, I had to google to know a little bit about the place. I wish there was at least a little synopsis about every recipe in the book. Having said that, a quick run down of the book does tell me that all recipes in the book are really simple, made with whatever is readily available in your pantry, and hence can be a good addition to your cookbook collection, just for this reason.
We hardly cook mutton at home, but when we do, the vote always falls for a biriyani, and then second, for a curry, which is usually a kurma. I had “dog eared” this mutton biriyani from this book when I had just got it mainly for two reason – it sounded really easy and it hardly involved many pots. Another reason was that it had hardly any “kacharas” in it that my girls would have to pick and throw off it, plus all the stock was used into the biriyani, making it sound just delectable.
The mutton is first cooked with a whole list of ingredients and strained out, and the stock is then used to make the rest of the biriyani. The technique is more closer to that of a pulao, but it truly doesn’t matter. The bottom point is, after going through the process, the end result is so flavorful and delicious that you would wish for more. HD is quite critical when it comes to cooking mutton, and he was head over heels over this biriyani. In fact he commented that it was one of the best mutton biriyanis I have made. Alhamdulillah… 🙂
The book suggests that this biriyani be served with the “Thayir Pachadi”, along with some kurma or an aubergine curry like this one. I thought that it must be a recipe with some cooking involved, however when I flipped to the page, it was the recipe for a thick raita. It is more of the onions, tomato and cucumber just tossed up in very little yogurt. Since it was a really easy recipe, I decided to try it out and click it along with the biriyani. I must say that the pachadi perfectly complimented the biriyani. It made me remember about the Memoni Biriyani which had a green chutney with it, which incidentally was also a book review. I thought I had posted that recipe this year, but the date tells me 2019. :O Really? Where is time flying???
- FOR GRAVY:
- 750 gm mutton, with bones (refer notes)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 2 cardamoms
- 2 large onions, thinly sliced
- 4 green chillies, slit
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- 1 whole garlic, peeled
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- FOR THE RICE:
- 2½ cup basmati rice
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 cloves
- 2 green cardamom
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 medium sized onions, sliced
- 4-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup mint leaves
- 2 tbsp ghee, for topping
- FOR PACHADI:
- 1 small cucumber, diced
- 1 small onion, minced
- 1 small tomato, deseeded and diced
- 1 green chili, minced
- 1 tbsp minced coriander leaves
- 1 cup thick yogurt
- Salt to taste
- Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Wash the mutton, drain well.
- In a pressure cooker, heat oil, and fry the whole spices. Add onions and fry till translucent.
- Add the green chillies, mint leaves and garlic and fry till the onions start browning.
- Add the mutton, ginger garlic paste and turmeric powder along with salt and toss well. Fry for around five minutes.
- Add 5 cups of water, adjust seasoning. Cook for around 3-4 whistles and switch off. Allow the pressure to go by itself.
- Check if the mutton is cooked. If not, cook for another whistle or till done. If yes, strain out the mutton pieces carefully and set aside.
- Strain the mutton stock and measure out 4½ - 5 cups of stock. Discard the strained mixture.
- In a large saucepan, heat the ghee, fry the whole spices. Add the onion and fry till transparent.
- Add the garlic and strained rice. Saute for a couple of minutes. Then add the mint leaves and toss.
- Add the mutton stock, check seasoning. Bring to boil.
- Keep flame on low and cook till the rice absorbs all the liquid. Toss the rice once in between.
- Add the drained mutton over the rice. Drizzle the ghee for topping.
- Cover the lid tight and cook on low flame on dum for around 15 minutes. Switch off and allow the rice to rest for 10 minutes.
- Toss well and serve hot with the pachadi.
- For the pachadi, mix all ingredients together in a bowl and reserve in the fridge till use.