1. Peel 5 potatoes and smear yellow food colour on them . keep the potatoes whole (each piece should be about 80 gm). go easy on the amount of food colour.
2. Heat vegetable oil, 3 cm deep, in a pan. fry the potatoes until they are lightly coloured on all sides (takes about 4 minutes).
3. Drain them from the oil and set aside.
4. In the same oil, add 150 gms sliced onions, a small handful at a time, to make birista.
5. Weigh two separate portions of birista – 20 gms and 15 gms and keep aside.
Making biryani masala
6. In a pan set over medium heat, add 6 (1.25 gms) green cardamom, 1 (0.75 gms) black cardamom, 3/4 tsp (1.5 gms) cloves, 3 cm long (0.5 gms) cinnamon stick, 1/2 (1.2 gms) nutmeg, 2 (1.75 gms) mace, 2 gms shahi jeera / caraway seeds, 2 gm kabab chini, 1/2 tsp (1 gm) fennel seeds, 3 gms whole white peppers, 1/2 tsp (1.25 gm) whole black peppers. gently toast them, stirring continuously.
7. Transfer the toasted spices to a spice grinder and blitz them to a fine powder.
8. Weigh two separate portions of biryani masala – 8 gms and 5 gms and keep aside.
9. Peel 10 gms ginger and 10 gms garlic, roughly chop them, and crush them into a fine paste.
10. In a large mixing bowl or pressure cooker, mix together 100 gms yogurt, ginger and garlic paste, 20 gms prepared birista, 5 gms kewra water, 8 gms prepared biryani masala, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder, 20 gms salt, and 1/2 tsp ground pepper.
11. Add 1 kg mutton pieces and coat them well with the marinade, making sure to massage it into the crevices too.
12. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.
13. Meanwhile, wash 500 gms basmati rice and soak it in water for 30 minutes. at the end of this time, drain the water and strain the rice over a net or colander. set aside. soaking leads to longer and fluffier rice grains.
14. After the mutton has had 1 hour to marinate, transfer it to a pressure cooker.
15. Lay the fried potatoes at the bottom of the pressure cooker, followed by the mutton on top (we changed this step from the video because this yields juicier potatoes).
16. Add 150 gms water and pressure cook it on medium-low heat for 30 minutes. allow the steam to release naturally for another 15 minutes before opening the lid of the pressure cooker.
17. Extract the potatoes and mutton pieces in separate dishes and set them aside. now strain the liquid remaining in the pressure cooker. this is called ‘yakhni’ (a broth resulting from mutton and spices cooked together). we need just 200 g of it, so weigh it out and keep ready.
Boiling water for rice
18. Place the spices mentioned in the ‘rice’ section namely 6 (1.25 gms) green cardamom, 2 (1.5 gms) black cardamom, 7 gm cloves, 1 gm (6cm long) cinnamon, 3 gms bay leaves, 7 gms fennel seeds on a small square of cheesecloth. tie them with a piece of twine to form a bag.
19. In a large pot, take 3 litres of water. add 30 gms salt to it.
20. Add the bag of spices to the water and allow it to come to a boil (should take about 20 minutes).
Cooking rice, assembly, and dum
21. In a bowl, add a pinch of saffron and a pinch of yellow food colour mixed in 20 gms warm milk.
22. In a seperate bowl, add 5 gms rose water, 5 gms kewra water, and 4 grams meetha attar mixed in 180 gms warm milk.
23. Set the biryani’r hnari or pan you are using for dum on low heat. grease it with ghee.
24. Lay 6-10 bay leaves in a single layer to cover the bottom of the pan. these will impart an aroma and provide buffer against burning.
25. Place the mutton pieces in a single layer, and the potatoes on top of the mutton. don’t place potatoes too close to the edge or you might accidentally cut into them while serving.
26. Strew 40 gms alubukhara (dried plums), 15 gms birista, and 1 tsp rose petals evenly.
27. Take half the stipulated amount of biryani masala and 25 gms grated khoya kheer, and spread evenly. we will use the remaining half in the next layer.
28. Now add 200 gms yakhni and 5 gms lime juice.
29. By this time the water for your rice should have come to a boil and its colour changed. extract the bag of spices and discard it. add the rice and let it cook until 80% done, that is, until when the centre is no longer hard, but the grain is still firm. our rice took about 5 minutes to reach this stage, but read your packet instructions.
30. Strain rice, a ladle at a time, and spread it directly in the pan. repeat this until half the rice is added to the pan.
31. On top of this first layer of rice, spread the remaining biryani masala and remaining 25 gms grated khoya kheer. also spread the saffron+colour mixture evenly.
32. Now strain the rest of the rice and add it to the pan. flatten it gently.
33. On top of the second layer of rice, add milk mixed with the aromatics. also add 20 gms melted butter and 30 gms ghee, making sure to drizzle it near the sides of the pan too.
34. Cover the pan with heavy-duty aluminium foil (if yours is thin, use double layers), sealing the sides well so that no steam escapes. cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid. if you don’t want to use foil, you can also seal the lid with a wet flour dough.
35. Set the pan on dum on medium-low heat for 30 minutes. turn off the heat and allow it to rest another 15 minutes before serving.