Festivals to many people entail many things, but for a true blue Bengali girl like me, festivals are synonymous with family, traditions and food. Growing up, my family ensured that each festival or parbon as we call them is celebrated with dedicated fervour. Noboborsho, or the Bengali New year, holds a special place in every Bengalis heart, it is yet another opportunity to enjoy, usher in the good times with family and friends over new clothes, elaborate meals and lots of adda. Bengalis and their bhuri bhoj is world famous and we don’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to merrymaking.
Just like every year, our plans for Poila Boisakh revolve around food and festivities. As a mother to a 8 year old, I have to ensure that these occasions are celebrated with much fanfare so it creates lifelong memories, which he can carry along in his heart forvever. A typical Poila Boisakh morning, would entail a visit to the temple, donned in new traditional attires, cooking up delicacies in my kitchen, gorging on mishtis and being with family and friends.
Now, coming to food. While quintessentially, dishes like Chingri Malaikari, Kosha Mangsho, Pulao would be a part of the Poila Boisakh menu, one cannot ignore the the perennial love we Bengalis have for Biryanis! Give us a plate of Biryani along with the meat and the potato, we are set and elated. There is this particular Kacchi Biryani – the Dhakai version that Maa makes and I can never get enough of it. With time , I have also struggled to kind of master the art of making this dish and is very happy to share it with my readers here.
A Dhakai Kacchi Biryani is different from the rest of the lot as the here the raw marinated meat is cooked along with the rice in a concoction of flavours. The key is to get the right balance of spices, not too spicy, not to bland, just right with succulent pieces of meat and potatoes. A perfect recipe to bond over with friends and family.
However, no celebration is perfect without a clean home and kitchen. Since the kitchen is the humdrum of activities during Poila Boisakh, hygiene is of utmost importance. With a young kid at home, I cant help but being hyper when it comes to cleanliness. The advent of summers mean pests and cockroaches and the only sure shot way to get rid of it is to use Godrej Lal Hit. A premium product from Godrej to keep cockroaches at bay. Its long nozzle ensures that it reaches every nook and corner of your kitchen. Personally, I have been using this product for a while now and I seriously cant complain.
So there! Have the happiest Poila Boisakh, cook up a storm, enjoy the mishtis and have a great time with friends and family without compromising on cleanliness and hygiene. Cherish old memories, call up your loved ones and make some new traditions.
- For the biryani masala:
- Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
- Dry red chillies - 5-6 nos ( adjust according to taste)
- Nutmeg ( Jaiphal) - half a piece
- Mace (Javitri) - 2 pieces
- Green Cardamom - 3-4 nos
- Cinnamon - 2 small sticks
- Cloves - 5-6 nos
- Other ingredients required:
- Basmati Rice - 2 cups
- Mutton - half kg ( good quality and fresh. Can use boneless cubes too )
- Brown onion slices - 4 tbsp + 1 tbsp ( for this just slice up two big onions and fry till golden brown in refined oil or ghee) Also ensure that you keep the leftover oil or ghee.
- Yogurt - 1 cup
- Garlic paste - 1tbsp
- Ginger paste - 1 tbsp
- Potatoes - 2 medium sized ( parboiled and fried till light brown in colour)
- Kewra essence (screwpine) - 1 tsp
- Salt - for marinating the mutton and while boiling the rice.
- Atta dough - a small ball of dough made of wheat required for sealing the handi/pan in which the biryani will be cooked.
- STEP ONE
- Dry roast all the ingredients listed under 'Biryani Masala' and grind into a fine powder.
- Please be careful not to burn the spices. This 'is 'the most important ingredients of the biryani.
- STEP TWO
- Wash and clean the mutton. Marinate with 2 tbsp salt and keep aside for half an hour.
- After half and hour wash the mutton once more and keep.
- Now add the yogurt , ginger paste, garlic paste , 4 tbsp brown onion slices and the biryani masala. Mix it very well and gently too.
- Cover this mixture with a cling film and let it marinate overnight.
- STEP THREE
- Take 2 cups of good quality basmati rice. Wash it under running water , drain and keep aside.
- In a big saucepan add water. Once the water starts to boil add 2 tbsp salt and few whole cardamom , cloves and cinnamon.
- Next add the rice and let it boil till the rice is almost half done.
- Strain the rice and spread it out on a flat surface.
- STEP FOUR
- Now is probably the easiest part and the last step' assembling' before you can devour this sinful biryani.
- Take a handi or a saucepan (make sure it has a proper lid) and brush it with a little ghee.
- We will make the first layer with rice and then the mutton.
- First rice,then the marinated mutton and fried potatoes , then rice and then mutton again. Finally top it up with the remaining rice. Sprinkle the remaining brown onion slices and the kewra essence on top. Close the lid tightly of the handi and seal it with the dough
- Now the final task is to put this on dum or slow cooking as we say. For the mutton to be fully cooked this has to be put on heat for at least an hour. So to prevent it from burning I always put the handi on a tawa/skillet and not directly.
- Now forget about it for an hour and then when you break open that seal - simply divine!!
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