Mutton Berry Pulao

I had my first berry pulao at Soda Bottle Openerwala in Gurgaon a couple of years ago. Just the way it was plated, it looked great. A mound of the  pulao in the middle of a round aluminum cake tin topped with fried onions, cashews and of course, berries. What I made of it was that it was essentially mutton biryani with cranberries. But what these cranberries do is give you bursts of sweet and sour pops of flavour in midst of the mildly spiced biryani. And that’s what sets it apart from the regular biryani. I looked up the recipe for a good mutton berry pulao. There were multiple options, but what was common was that unlike the biryani I make with ground masala, this one is made with powdered spices. I enjoyed cooking it though. If I had some khoya I’d have made Mawa cake and it would have been like lunch at an Irani cafe in Mumbai. Not as good, but close enough I guess.



Mutton on the bone – 500 gm

Basmati rice – 2 cups

Onions – 5 finely sliced (2 for the rice, 2 for the mutton  and 1 for frying in the end)

Cinnamon pieces, cardamom, cloves – few each

Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp

Chilli powder – 2 tsp (you can go higher or lower)

Garam masala – 3 tsp

Garlic – 4-5 cloves chopped

Ginger – 1 inch piece chopped

Dried cranberries – 1/2 cup

Honey – 1 tbsp

Cashews – handful

Coriander for garnish

Salt to taste

Ghee to cook



Soak the cranberries for 20 mins.

Heat honey and saute the cranberries in it for 7-8 mins. Add cashews and let it brown a little. Turn off heat and keep aside.

Deep fry one finely sliced onion till dark brown and keep aside.

Wash the meat well and keep aside. Wash and soak the rice in water for 15 mins.

Heat 1 tbsp ghee in a pressure cooker and add the onions.

Once onions are browned, add the mutton along with the powdered spices, ginger and garlic.

Add 1/2 cup of water and salt, and let this come to a boil.

Now put the lid on and wait for the first whistle. After the first whistle, turn the flame down and cook the meat for 20 mins.

While the pressure is dropping off, on another flame, heat 2 tbsp of ghee and add the whole spices with onions.

Let onions soften. Add 4 cups of water and let it come to a boil.

Add the rice now and some salt.

Let this come to a bubble on high heat. Now turn the heat down and let it cook for 15 mins or till it’s done 3/4th of the way.

Drain the water.

Remove the lip from the pressure cooker and pour out some of the gravy from the mutton, and keep just enough so the rice can cook through in it.

Tip the rice on top of the mutton and put it back on the flame. Let the rice cook for another 5 mins or till done. Just leave the lid on without the whistle.

Once done, mix gently. Garnish with fried onions, coriander, cranberries and cashew nuts.

Note: Alternately, I’d also consider cooking the rice and meat separately and then layering them one on top of the other with the garnishes in between the layers.

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Chicken Biryani

Finally. Without my mother hovering over my shoulders, I made biryani. It’s her recipe anyway. Relatively easy, this biryani has two elements to it – rice and chicken masala. Both are to be cooked separately and layered with fresh coriander leaves and fried onions. Next stop, Mutton Biryani!

Ingredients for Chicken Masala:
Chicken (on the bone) – 1/2 kg
Coriander leaves – one cup
Mint leaves – one cup
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
Dried red chillies – 5 – 6
Green chillies – 2
Tamarind paste/thick pulp – 1 tbsp
Ginger – 1/2 inch
Garlic – 4 cloves
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch stick
Cloves – 4-5
Cardamom – 4-5

1. Saute all the ingredients for the masala in 1 tsp ghee.
2. Grind in blender to make a paste, adding some water.
3. Add salt to taste and cook chicken in the masala for 20 mins in med-low flame or till chicken is tender.

Ingredients for rice:
Basmati rice – 2 cups
Bay leaves – 2
Onion – 2 sliced

1. Rinse the rice with water at least 3-4 times and soak it in water for 10-15 mins. Drain water and let the rice dry for 10 mins.
2. Saute onions in 2 tbsp ghee/oil along with bay leaves.
3. Tip the rice in and add 4 cups water.
4. Add salt and bring to a boil.
5. Now let it simmer with a lid on in low heat for 18-20 mins.
6. Take it off the heat and let it rest with the lid off.

Other ingredients:
Onion – 1 sliced and fried till dark brown
Coloured water (yellow food colouring in water) – 1/2 cup
Chopped coriander leaves – 2 cups

Assembling the biryani:
In a large deep dish, layer the biryani – first with rice, followed by sprinkling of coloured water, then the chicken masala, then coriander leaves. Repeat. Top it with fried onions and more coriander leaves.

Serve with raita.

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