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Indonesian kebuli biryani

Biryani is associated with the Islamic world, it is a combination of rice and meat, and in vegetarian versions with paneer or vegetables.

This is a lovely version that has travelled from the Afghan region, hence the name "kebuli" which refers to its origins "from Kabul". The biryani is not cooked in Layers, as it usually is in India, but more as a pulao when the meat and gravy are mixed into the rice. The dish follows the lighter style of spices, cinnamon, caraway and anise and the new Indonesian influences of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and coconut milk make it unique. It is the perfect blend of the two flavours, yet light. The super soft meat is enveloped in the flavoured rice and the dish will fill up the house with the aromas of spices. This is one of those biryanis that will surprise your guests with how different it is.

his cookbook is so much more than a collection of recipes but is a history of a culture and its contribution to the cuisines of the world. The author has travelled extensively to research this cookbook, and this is evident in the introduction to the book and each recipe. Filled with historical notes and tidbits of information, I can sit and read this cookbook as a novel.

For more recipes from the amazing cookbook, click here.


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

8-10 shallots, thinly sliced

5-6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds

2 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon anise seeds

1-inch cinnamon stick

4 cloves

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

4 green cardamom pods

3 2-inch pieces of lemongrass stalks

5 kaffir lime leaves

1 bay leaf

Salt, to taste

1 lb boneless mutton pieces

4 cups long-grain rice, like basmati

4 tablespoons golden raisins

2 onions, thinly sliced

3 cups coconut milk

2 cups water + 3 cups water + more as needed

2 tablespoons ghee

Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté on medium heat the shallots and garlic till golden. Add the ginger paste and fry for 1 more minute till the ginger no longer smells are.

Turn the heat to low and add the turmeric, coriander, caraway, and anise and mix well. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and bay leaf and mix well again.

Add the meat and salt and cook on medium heat till the meat is sealed. You do not want to let the meat stew in the juices, so adjust the heat accordingly. Toss the meat often to coat with the spices. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cool closed for 45 minutes till the meat si soft and tender. Adjust water as needed. You are looking for a dry mix towards the end of the cooking time.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a frying pan and add the onions. Fry on medium heat till the onions are caramelized to a deep golden. Drain on paper towels and set aside.

Add the rice and continue to sauté till the rice grains turn white. Mix well with the meat and spices to get an even mix. Add the coconut milk, fried onions and water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30-35 minutes till the rice is cooked.

Serve immediately dabbed with the ghee on top. Alternatively, you can dab the ghee on top and reheat the biryani in the oven at 375° F for 30 minutes.

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