MAKING BIRISTA: Start by making birista first. Add oil and ghee, mentioned under ‘Birista’ to a heavy bottom vessel/kadai/skillet and drop in cardamom, clove and cinnamon. When the spices start to release their flavour in oil, add sliced onions and fry on medium heat by continuously stirring it. Adding salt will fasten up frying of sliced onions and adding sugar will impart nice caramelisation colour to the sliced onions.
Once the onions start to change color, grab a kitchen plate or tissue and be ready. Once the sliced onions turn nice golden brown, turn off the flame and using a slotted spoon, remove the fried onions. Be careful. Don’t burn the sliced onions. This is our Birista. Collect the oil/ghee in a stainless steel bowl and set aside.
MARINATION: Grind the ingredients mentioned under ‘To Grind’ and make a smooth paste. To this add beaten curd, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, coriander powder and salt. Mix well and add mutton pieces along with green chillies. Using your fingers, gently rub the marinate over the mutton pieces.
Add half of the barista (from above) by crushing lightly using your fingers along with 3 tbsp. of hot ghee oil/ghee (which we used for frying onions above). Cover and set aside for 1-2 hours or more depending on time you have. Overnight or 5-6 hours of marination tenders and flavours the mutton pieces.
COOKING MUTTON PIECES:IN PRESSURE COOKER: To reduce the cooking time, I sometimes use pressure cooker to cook marinated mutton pieces. So if you are doing it in pressure cooker, then empty the contents of the bowl in which we marinated mutton pieces in to a pressure cooker and stir on high flame for 5 minutes.
Add 1 cup of water and close the lid. Pressure cook for 6-7 whistles or until the mutton pieces turn tender. When the pressure settles, open the lid and when if there is any excess water, on high flame by stirring gently cook till you get thick gravy of mutton pieces. Turn off the flame and set aside.
ON STOVE TOP METHOD:If you are doing stove top method, then place the marinated mutton pieces in a skillet and fry on high flame for 5 minutes. When the mutton pieces start to change color, add 1-2 cups of water and cook covered on low flame for 45-50 minutes.
Stir in between to avoid sticking of the mutton pieces to the bottom of the vessel. Cook till mutton pieces turn tender. Set aside.
COOKING RICE:In the meantime wash and soak basmati rice in enough water. In a small bowl soak saffron in lukewarm milk and set aside.
When the mutton is half done, start cooking rice by adding 4-5 liters of water to a heavy bottom cooking vessel (used for cooking rice) along with salt, ginger-garlic paste 4 cardamoms, 4 cloves, 1 stick cinnamon.
Bring this to boil and add soaked basmati rice (by draining water from it). Cook till rice is ¾ th done. Carefully drain the water using a sieve. Now add start layering.
LAYERING:Grease the same vessel which we used for cooking rice with the oil/ghee (which we used for frying onions). Sprinkle 1 tbsp. of fried onions and evenly spread half of above drained rice.
On top of it evenly spread cooked mutton pieces. Add remaining cooked rice on top of it and spread evenly. Sprinkle garam masala, remaining barista (fried onions), lemon juice, food color (mixed in water), saffron milk, fresh coriander and mint leaves.
Close with a lid and seal with dough or foil. Place the vessel on medium high flame and put a heavy weight on top of the vessel. Reduce the flame and cook on low for another 30-40 minutes.
Turn off the flame and leave the vessel on stove for another 20 minutes.
SERVING:When you start to serve, remove the weight and carefully take off the lid and foil. Gently using a fork or spoon, fluff the rice and take it into a serving bowl.
Garnish with coriander and mint leaves. Serve with raita or dalcha or mirch ka salan. I served this Andhra Style Mutton Biryani with onion raita and gosht ka dalcha