The Moguls introduced this dry, spicy rice dish to central India.

  • 2 large onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2.5 cm / 1 in piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • ½ 1 fresh green chilli, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro)
  • 60 ml / 4 tbsp flaked (sliced) almonds
  • 30-45 ml / 2-3 tbsp water
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp ghee or butter, plus 25 g / 1 oz / 2 tbsp butter, for the rice
  • 45 ml / 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 30 ml / 2 tbsp sultanas (golden raisins)
  • 500 g / 1¼ lb braising or stewing steak, cubed
  • 5 ml / 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 15 ml / 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2.5 ml / ½ ground turmeric
  • 2.5 ml / ½ ground fenugreek
  • good pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 175 ml / 6 fl oz / ¾ cup natural (plain) yogurt
  • 275 g / 10 oz / 1½ cups basmati rice
  • about 1.2 litres / 2 pints / 5 cups hot chicken stock or water
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered, to garnish
When you are cooking the onion and ginger paste and the ground spices, reduce the heat to very low and stir constantly to avoid scorching them.
  1. Coarsely chop 1 onion and place it in a food processor or blender. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, fresh coriander, and half the flaked almonds. Pour in the water and process to a smooth paste.
  2. Thinly slice the remaining onion into rings or half rings. Heat half the ghee or butter with half the oil in a heavy, flameproof casserole, and cook the onion rings over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Cook the remaining flaked almonds briefly until golden and set aside with the onion rings, then quickly cook the sultanas until they swell. Transfer to the plate.
  3. Heat the remaining ghee or butter in the casserole with a further 15 ml / 1 tbsp of the oil. Cook the meat, in batches, until evenly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  4. Wipe the casserole clean with kitchen paper, heat the remaining oil and pour in the onion and ginger paste. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, until the mixture begins to brown lightly. Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, and cinnamon, season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for 1 minute more.
  5. Lower the heat, then gradually stir in the yogurt, a little at a time. When all of it has been incorporated into the spice mixture, return the meat to the casserole. Stir to coat, cover tightly, and simmer over a gentle heat for about 40-45 minutes, until the meat is tender.
  6. Meanwhile, place the rice in a large bowl, pour in cold water to cover and leave to soak for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F / Gas 3. Drain the rice, place it in a pan and add the hot chicken stock or water, together with a little salt. Bring back to the boil, cover, lower the heat, and cook for 5-6 minutes.
  8. Drain the rice and pile it in a mound on top of the meat in the casserole. Using the handle of a spoon, make a hole through the rice and meat mixture, to the bale of the pan. Sprinkle the onion rings, almonds, and sultanas over the top and dot with butter. Cover the casserole tightly with a double layer of foil and secure with a lid.
  9. Cook the biryani in the oven for 30-40 minutes. To serve, spoon the mixture on to a warmed serving plate and garnish with the quartered hard-boiled eggs. Serve with parathas, naan bread, or chapatis,if you like.
Beef Biryani