20 January 2013

Thalassery Mutton Biryani

If you are from Kerala or have visited Kerala, you will know it is famous for the most variety of biryanis. Biryanis are made with chicken, mutton, beef, prawns, vegetables, tapioca and even mussels. I really missed going to the Mappila Food Fest at Kozhikode (Calicut). I heard that there were about 100 delicacies from the Malabar region. Some of items being rare varieties of food that are not known to the present generation and slowly disappearing.

Thalassery (my home town) a city in the Malabar Coast of Kerala is famous for biryani. The city of 3 C's (Cakes, Cricket and Circus).The best part about this biryani is you won't see a lot of masala in it but it tastes too good.

Serves approx 14 adults

For the ghee rice:
Short grain rice / Jeera Rice / Neychottari - 8 cups
Ghee - 4 tbsp
Water - 16 1/4 cup
Cloves/ Grambu - 5
Cinnamon/ Patta - 2" three pieces
Cardamom/ Elakka - 3
Mace/ Jatipathri - 4
Fennel Seeds/ Perumjeerakam  - 2 tbsp
Star Anise/ Thakkolam- 2
Nutmeg /Jathikka - 1/4 piece

For marination:
Mutton - 2 kg
Ginger paste - 2 tbsp
Garlic Paste - 2 tbsp
Green Chilly - 10 * see notes 1
Lime - juice of 1 medium size lime
Salt - as required

For masala:
Onion - 1 kg
White Poppy Seeds / Khus -Khus - 2 tbsp
Cashew - 200 g
Curd - 1/2 cup
Ghee - 2 tbsp
Oil - 2 tbsp

Onion - 2 cups thinly sliced
Cashew - 100g
Kismis - 150g
Coriander Leaves - 1 1/2cup loosely packed
Pudina Leaves - 1 cup loosely packed
Garam Masala - 1 tsp
Oil - for deep frying onions
Rose water - 4 tbsp


Chop mutton into medium size pieces.
Chop the chillies roughly and pound it or grind it to a paste.
Marinate the mutton with chilly paste, ginger garlic paste, salt and lime. Mix well using your hands. Marinate for 1/2 hour.

Preparation of Ghee Rice:
Wash and strain the rice.
Measure 16 1/4 cup water in a pan and boil it along with the spices - Cloves, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Mace, Cumin Seeds, Star Anise and Nutmeg. Add  salt.
In the meantime, in a  non stick pan heat the ghee.
Fry the cashews on low flame till they turn golden brown. Switch off the flame. Add in the kismis. Stir and fry till they bloat up. Transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen roll.
Switch on the flame. In the same ghee fry the rice for 5 minutes. Keep stirring.
Strain and pour in the boiling water into the rice. Stir once slowly. Check salt and close tightly. Lower flame to medium low. The rice will be done in 10-15 minutes. You will see craters formed on top. 
Switch off the flame. Fluff up the rice after 2-3 minutes.

Preparing the masala:
Transfer the khus-khus into a small sieve. Hold it under running water to wash it. Soak it.
Chop the onions into thin slices.
Heat oil and ghee in a medium size pressure cooker. Tip in the onions. Fry them till they turn translucent. 
Add in the marinated mutton. Check salt. Close the cooker.
Reduce the flame to medium low. Cook until you hear 3 whistles of the cooker. *See notes 2
Meanwhile grind the cashew and couscous into a fine paste.
Once the mutton is well cooked open the cooker and add the cashew paste along with curd. Check salt.
Mix well and let it boil for 2 minutes on high flame. Stir in between.
When the mutton mixture has become thick switch off the flame.

Chop the onions into very thin slices.
Heat oil in a small kadai /wok.
When the oil is hot fry the onions 1 cup at a time.* see notes 3
Transfer it to a colander. 
Chop the mint leaves and coriander leaves fine.
Use the same pan used to make rice. Grease the base with little ghee.
Switch on the flame to low.
Put a layer of the mutton masala at the bottom.
Now a layer of ghee rice. 
Sprinkle garam masala, cashew, raisns, coriander leaves, mint leaves and fried onions.
Continue to layer in the same way.
Sprinkle with rose water.
Once done close the pan with tight fitting lid and place a heavy object or an inverted mortar on it.* see notes 4
Let it cook for 15 minutes. Remove lid and check if you can see steam coming up from the biryani. Switch off the flame.
Fluff up the rice a bit and start serving from one side of the pan.
Serve it with mint chutney, raitha, pickle and pappad.

Cooking tips:
1.This is a medium spicy biryani. If the above said number of chillies are not added the biryani becomes too sweet due to the cashews and onions. You can increase the number depending on tolerance level.

2. There is no need to add any water while cooking mutton as the water comes out of the mutton and the onions. But do not be tempted to cook on high flame else it may get burnt.

3. For frying onions make sure you slice it very thin. I slice it in my Philips Food Processor (HL 1659) which makes it so easy to slice it real thin and evenly, all in seconds. Add 1 cup at a time. Stir once you see the tips of the onions start to turn golden. You have to be on the watch as it will get burnt easily. Once it turns golden remove and transfer to a colander.

4.Keeping a mortar is an easier way of  making dum biryani. You can also make a dough out of 
all purpose flour and seal the lid of the pan. 


  1. Worth to try, flavourful and beautiful briyani..Seriously inviting.

  2. wow its a feast...the biriyani and the presentation

  3. What a gorgeous dish. I don't think I've ever tried it. But I love the combination of ingredients. Something for everybody for sure. ;)

  4. You have a lovely space with good collection of recipes. Following you...
    Check my blog http://nimmyskitchen.blogspot.in/ If interesting, join me.

  5. Lovely preparation...looks so delicious...

  6. Looks yumm...!!! Nice pics..
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  7. A Lovely Mutton biriyani...Thanks for visiting my space. You have such a nice Blog.. I like it very Much.Happy to Follow you Dear...

  8. Thanks for visiting my space. You have a wonderful blog and this biryani looks delicious

  9. Lovely blog :) Good recipes here am so glad to follow you!! Biryani looks teasingly yum :)

  10. Lovely Post. Nice recipe too.love it..


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