Whenever we go to India on vacation, we have a tendency to over-indulge. All the pent-up longing for the familiar food and ingredients that one has grown up with comes to the fore rather forcefully and the result is that we go crazy snacking on street food and favorite take-aways.
And the trip is never complete without a visit to some of our favorite restaurants to get another taste of their signature dishes… On one such trip about 2 years ago, we had just ordered dinner at a south-Indian specialty restaurant when my husband looked out of the window and saw an outlet of ‘Urban Tadka’.
Urban Tadka is a chain of restaurants that serve authentic north Indian (Punjabi) food and their fare is lip-smacking. We have fallen hard for their Paneer Tikka, which is melt in your mouth. Thank goodness, we have learnt to make the same excellent paneer at home, otherwise I would have to go back to India 😉
Back to the story: The hubby get a glint in his eyes as soon as he spots Urban Tadka. And he announces that he’s gonna get some take-away from Urban Tadka to enjoy at home “after dinner”.
See how naughty we are on vacation!! I roll my eyes, but I allow him the indulgence as we have only a few days of enjoyment left. Off he goes and returns with a smile on his lips and a package in hand, in time to have dinner with us.
We got home and out came the package. And it smelled divine. The aroma of spices wafting from it was just indescribable. It was by far one of the best biryanis I had ever tasted: a Keema Biryani! I hadn’t planned on eating it; I had just had dinner, after all. But I managed to polish off quite a few spoonfuls…
You can read more about biryani in one of my earlier posts here. ‘Keema’ means minced meat in Hindi. This was one perfect biryani. Each grain of rice was separate, interspersed with bits of ground meat and redolent with spices and fried onions.
When we went back to India earlier this year, we went to Urban Tadka (of course) with the sole purpose of trying this biryani again. It came to the table in a clay pot sealed with dough. When the dough was cracked open, the familiar aroma came wafting out…
And the taste… It was even better than I remembered. A luscious dish of rice layered with minced meat, spices and herbs and cooked to perfection! I knew I had to try to make it myself when we got back home.
Yesterday, I finally got around to recreating the magic at home. The result came pretty close to what we had tasted at Urban Tadka. The hubby said it was better that the UT version; I think he was just making sure that I will make it again 😉
It is the perfect meal for a lazy weekend. Takes a bit of time and effort, but the end result is quite magical, really!
Here’s the recipe.
200 Lamb Mince (Keema)
1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice, washed and soaked
2 tablespoons Cooking Oil
1 inch piece Cinnamon
3 Green cardamom
1 teaspoon Cumin seeds
1 large Onion, chopped
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon Garlic paste
1 tablespoon Ginger paste
2 large Tomatoes,chopped
1 teaspoon Red Chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
3 Green Chillies, chopped
A handful of Cilantro,chopped
15-20 Mint leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon Garam masala powder
1 cup Fried onions
A few strands Saffron,dissolved in 2 tablespoons Milk
2 tablespoons Ghee or cooking Oil
Heat plenty of water in a deep pan.When the water in the other pan starts to boil, add the washed and soaked rice to it, with 1 teaspoon of salt. Boil for about 5-6 minutes, till the rice is par-boiled.
Strain and keep aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in another deep pan. .
Add cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns and cumin seeds to the oil in the pan and saute till fragrant.
Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes.Add garlic paste, ginger paste, mix and fry for about a minute.
Add red chilli powder, turmeric powder and garam masala. Mix well.
Add mince and continue to saute till well browned.
Add tomatoes and salt and mix. Add green chillies, some coriander leaves, some mint leaves, ¼ cup fried onion and mix.
Preheat the oven to 180C. Take an over-proof dish and½jk grease it with a coat of cooking oil
Put half the keema mix into the dish. Spread half the rice over keema and spread some fried onion, some mint leaves, some coriander leaves, half the saffron milk, 1 tablespoon Ghee or Cooking oil.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients to finish off building the biryani.
Cover the dish with foil and cook in the pre-heated oven for about 30 minutes.
Serve hot with a quick raita of yogurt with some chopped cucumber, onions and tomatoes.