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Karonde ki biryani

Karonde is a small berry of the carissa carandas family, and that is found across India. These gorgeous berries have a lovely pink hue and a subtle tart flavour. They are generally used in spicy pickles and chutneys, but here is a recipe that uses them in a delicious biryani.

I have a wonderful relationship with my greengrocer. We always chat when I am shopping for new and seasonal vegetables, and he guides me to the freshest produce. He pointed out these beauties to me and I had to buy a bag and then started looking for a recipe in my library.

This is a very unique biryani. It uses ground mutton, rather than the chunks of meat which are generally a norm here in Hyderabad. In addition, the karonda berries add a subtle tartness to the biryani, the tartness is more subtle than tamarind and it adds a lovely fruity aroma to the dish. The ground meat and the spices make this a very delicate biryani.

This is a specialized cookbook that brings to my library, and dining table, a variety of flavours, styles and diverse sets of dishes. The book also is wonderful at detailing the process of cooking a true biryani, versus the pulao and kichiri. I do enjoy this book for the diversity of flavours, from the super spicy South Indian biryanis to the regal Lucknowi and Hyderabadi biryanis to the mild and delicate North Indian biryanis. This is one of those cookbooks that anyone interested in the art of biryani should own. You will see me cook from here again.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the korma:

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tablespoons ginger paste

1 tablespoon garlic paste

2-4 green chillies, finely minced

1/3 cup cilantro leaves, minced

1/5 cup mint leaves, minced

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1-3 teaspoons chilli powder, or to taste

Salt, to taste

2 lb ground mutton or chicken

1 cup yoghurt, whisked smooth

1/2 cup karondas, halved or quartered depending on size

1 1/2 cups rice

2-3 green cardamom pods

1-inch cinnamon stick

3 cloves

1/2 bay leaf


Mint, to garnish

A few dollops of ghee

Start by cooking the rice with the cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves bay leaf and water in a rice cooker or a pot.

Heat the oil in a deep wok and add the onions. Sauté on medium-low heat till the onions are a light golden colour. Add the ginger, garlic, and green chillies and cook for 1 minute till the ginger no longer smells raw and the onions have turned a shade darker.

Add the cilantro and mint and give a good stir to mix in and wilt the onions. Add the turmeric and chilli powder and stir again, cooking for about 20 seconds.

Add the meat and cook on a medium flame till the meat is cooked through and is beginning to brown, about 12-15 minutes. Work the meat with your spatula, wooden is best, to break the meat up into very small pieces.

When the meat is fried to a light golden, add the yoghurt and stir in. Cook the sauce till the yoghurt has been completely incorporated. Add the karonda, and 1/2 cup water and simmer gently covered for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce and adjust the salt and spice. Taste the karonda, it should be cooked through. The final korma should have a thick gravy and burst with a tart flavour.

Layer an oven-proof dish or pot, with half the rice. Layer the korma over the rice and top it with the remaining rice. Garnish with mint and a few dollops of ghee.

Heat the oven to 375 F.

Seal the dish tightly with a layer of foil and the lid. Bake for 30 minutes till the centre is steaming and the ghee has completely melted into the dish.

Open the lid on the table and serve with raita.

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