Vazhayilayil Oru Suriyani Biriyani / Kerala Suriyanese Style Biryani Wrapped in Banana Leaf

Try out this special Syrian Christians’ mutton biryani cooked in dum, flavored with rich coconut milk and meat stock, & wrapped in plantain leaf which lends its earthy aroma to the dish. This lip smacking biriyani is served with a side of raita & guarantees to take your taste buds to a gourmet’s heaven.

 

 

Ingredients:
For the rice:
Basmati Rice – 3 cups of rice soaked in water for at least 2 hours
Water – 6 cups
Bay leaves- 2
Cardamom – 3 pods
Cloves – 4
Cinnamon – 1″ stick
Butter – 4-5 tbsp
Salt – To taste
Lemon juice – 2 tsp
For the mutton/chicken:
Mutton/chicken – 1 kg, cut into medium bite size pieces
Onions – 5, thinly sliced
Green chilies – 8-10,  finely chopped
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
Chili powder- 3 tsp
Garam masala powder- 2 tsp
Coriander leaves -A bunch, finely chopped
Mint leaves – A bunch, finely chopped
Coconut milk- 1/2 cup
Yoghurt/curd – 1/2 cup
Ghee/clarified butter – 3 tbsp
Salt – To taste
Water- As needed

For garnish:
Cashew nuts – 10-12
Raisins – 10-12
Onions – 1, thinly sliced

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Method: Clean and wash the mutton pieces. Allow them to drain. Marinate the mutton with turmeric powder, chili powder, garam masala powder, and salt. Keep it aside for at least 2 hours. In a heavy bottomed vessel, melt butter and fry the bay leaves, cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon. Add the soaked rice and fry for 2-3 minutes until the rice becomes crisp, making sure not to brown the rice. Add 6 cups of boiling water, lemon juice, and salt and allow it to boil. Cover and cook for about 5-10 mins until the rice is half cooked and no water is left. Remove from flame and keep aside.

In a large pan, heat oil. Add the chopped onions and saute until it is golden brown. Add ginger-garlic paste & green chilies and saute until the raw smell goes away. Add the marinated mutton, mix well, and fry for 5-6 mins until the color changes. Add the chopped coriander + mint leaves, yogurt, salt, & 1/2 cup of water and mix well. Cover with a lid and cook until the meat is 3/4 done. Pour the coconut milk into the gravy and cook on low flame for another 10-15 mins until the meat is completely coated with the masala and the gravy becomes thick. Remove from flame.

In a small pan, melt ghee. Fry the cashew nuts and raisins and drain them on a paper towel. In the same pan, fry the sliced onions until dark brown and drain them on a paper towel. Keep it aside.

Clean 2-3 large banana leaves. Wilt it slightly by placing them on flame and flipping the sides to make them soft & pliable. Smear some ghee on the leaf. Place a layer of the mutton masala with little gravy as the bottom layer and top it with a layer of rice. Garnish with cashewnuts, raisins and fried onions. Sprinkle ghee over the layer. Wrap the banana leaf as a parcel and tie it securely with banana fiber or thread. Repeat the process with the remaining mutton masala and rice on the next banana leaf. Place the parcels in a steamer and steam cook the biryani for 10-15 mins. Remove from the steamer and keep it aside for another 5 mins. You could also bake the parcels in a preheated oven at 300 degrees for 10 mins. Serve with raita and pickle of your choice.

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