Thalassery is a commercial town in the malabar coast of Kerala, India.  A trade hub where the Chinese, Arab, and Jewish traders had considerable influence in the spice market before the Greeks and Romans ware in trade. This is the place where the first European power to enter the region in the 13th century. It was mostly aimed to export spices from India to Europe.

Thalassery is known for its biryanis in the culinary world. The influence of Arabian/Mughal culture is evident, especially in its cuisine from the era of Mysorian invasion of Kerala in the 16th century.

Unlike other biryanis, Thalassery biryani uses Jeerakashala rice which is short grain. Here I’m using the normal long grain basmati rice. My version is considerably low-fat which requires only 1 tsp of ghee ( clarified butter ). This biryani needs an elaborate procedure to get the authentic taste and is made during special occasions.

Like any other biryani, this one too requires 4 stages.

  1. Frying raisins, cashew nuts and onions.
  2. Making  rice.
  3. Making the mutton
  4. Layering rice, mutton and other ingredients.

Preparation time : 30 mts

Cooking time : an hour

Serves :8 – 10

Frying raisins, cashew nuts and onions :

Ingredients :

  • 1/4 cup raisins (preferably black, soaked for 10 mts in water and drained)
  • 1/4 cup whole cashew nuts
  • 4 medium size red onions diced
  • 3 table spoon coconut oil ( or ghee to get a rich taste)
  • IMG_2295.jpgresize

Method :

Fry the raisins, cashew nuts and onions separately and keep it aside.

Making rice :

Ingredients :

  • 3 cups basmati rice washed and soaked for 10 mts
  • 1 medium size onion diced
  • 4 1/2 cups of water
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 table spoons of coconut oil ( you can use ghee or butter to get a rich taste)

Dry spices :

  • 1″ piece of cinnamon
  • 10 cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 2 mace pieces
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
  • IMG_2296.jpgresize

Method :

  • Heat oil in a large pan and add the dry spices in the same order as listed. Caraway seeds are very delicate, do not allow it to burn.
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  • Once the spices starts to release aroma add the diced onions and saute for a minute.
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  • Add the soaked and drained rice in to the vessel, fry the rice in medium-low fire till the rice starts to separate.
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  • Pour in the water and add the salt and lime juice. Mix the rice well and combine.
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  • Allow the water to boil, cover and cook for around 10 more minutes. After 5 mts, uncover it and slowly stir the rice so that it cooks evenly.
  • Once the rice is cooked, uncover again and slowly mix the rice once more time, sprinkle some water and cover and keep it aside.

Making mutton :

Ingredients :

  • 1 kg mutton cut into desired pieces ( marinate the mutton overnight in 3 table spoon of raw papaya juice and keep in the fridge. If you’re chopping the mutton in big pieces as I’ve done here, you need to take only 1/2 kg.)
  • 5 cloves of galic
  • 1″ ginger
  • 2 green chillies ( if you want, deseed to control the heat)
  • 2 medium size tomatoes cubed
  • 1 stem curry leaves
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil

Spice powders :

  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala / meat masala powder
  • IMG_2302.jpgresize

Method :

  • Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the tomatoes and keep it aside. While cooking the tomatoes add a pinch of salt to it.
  • IMG_2294.jpgresize
  • In the same oil add the ginger, garlic, chilli and curry leaves and saute till fragrant. Here I’ve bashed those ingredients in a passel and mortar and added. You can chop it if you want.
  • IMG_2301.jpgresize
  • Add back the fried tomatoes.
  • When all the ingredients are combined add in the marinated mutton pieces.
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  • When the mutton starts to cook in the outside add 1/2 of the fried onions and mix it well.
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  • Stir the mutton for a minute and add in the powdered spices except the garam masala / meat masala powder.
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  • Cook the mutton another 2 minutes and add the yogurt and the 1/2 of the greens, coriander and mint. Mix well and cook for 5 mts.
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  • Add 1 cup water to the mutton and bring it to boil.
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  • Sprinkle the garam masala / meat masala powder. Now you’re whole house will be filled with the biryani smell.
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  • When the mutton is almost cooked, switch off the fire.
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Layering mutton and rice :

Ingredients :

  • 1/4 milk / rose water ( careful when adding rose water, some people do not like rose water in savory items)
  • a pinch of saffron

Soak the saffron in the milk and keep it aside.

This step is completely optional. I’ve not added saffron in this one, since I forgot ! :)

  • 1 tsp of ghee

Method :

  • Remove the big pieces of dry spices from the rice.
  • In a heavy bottom large pan layer the mutton and slowly add the rice without breaking it.
  • Spread the remaining fried onions along with the fried raisins and cashew nuts.
  • Add the remaining greens and milk soaked with saffron. If you’re not adding the milk soaked with saffron, sprinkle few handfuls of water.
  • Add ghee in small amounts in different locations.
  • IMG_2310.jpgresize
  • Cover tightly, so that no steam from the biryani releases.
  • Cook in very low fire for 10 mts.
  • Switch off the fire and try not to open the biryani for an hour.
  • After an hour open the lid and slowly lift the rice from the sides a few times.
  • IMG_2311.jpgresize
  • Biryani is ready to be served !
  • IMG_2314

 

Thalassery Mutton Biriyani
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A meat biryani for your special day !
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup raisins (preferably black, soaked for 10 mts in water and drained)
  • ¼ cup whole cashew nuts
  • 4 medium size red onions diced
  • 3 table spoon coconut oil ( or ghee to get a rich taste)
  • 3 cups basmati rice washed and soaked for 10 mts
  • 1 medium size onion diced
  • 4½ cups of water
  • juice of one lime
  • 1½ tsp of salt
  • 2 table spoons of coconut oil ( you can use ghee or butter to get a rich taste)
  • Dry spices :
  • 1" piece of cinnamon
  • 10 cloves
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 2 mace pieces
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
  • 1 kg mutton cut into desired pieces ( marinate the mutton overnight in 3 table spoon of raw papaya juice and keep in the fridge. If you're chopping the mutton in big pieces as I've done here, you need to take only ½ kg.)
  • 5 cloves of galic
  • 1" ginger
  • 2 green chillies ( if you want, deseed to control the heat)
  • 2 medium size tomatoes cubed
  • 1 stem curry leaves
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 cup chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 cup mint leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • Spice powders :
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp garam masala /
  • meat masala powder
  • Other ingredients:
  • ¼ milk / rose water ( careful when adding rose water, some people do not like rose water in savory items)
  • a pinch of saffron
  • Soak the saffron in the milk and keep it aside.
  • This step is completely optional. I've not added saffron in this one, since I forgot ! :)
  • 1 tsp of ghee
Instructions
  1. Fry the raisins, cashew nuts and onions separately and keep it aside.
  2. Making rice :
  3. Heat oil in a large pan and add the dry spices in the same order as listed. Caraway seeds are very delicate, do not allow it to burn.
  4. Once the spices starts to release aroma add the diced onions and saute for a minute.
  5. Add the soaked and drained rice in to the vessel, fry the rice in medium-low fire till the rice starts to separate.
  6. Pour in the water and add the salt and lime juice. Mix the rice well and combine.
  7. Allow the water to boil, cover and cook for around 10 more minutes. After 5 mts, uncover it and slowly stir the rice so that it cooks evenly.
  8. Once the rice is cooked, uncover again and slowly mix the rice once more time, sprinkle some water and cover and keep it aside.
  9. Making mutton :
  10. Heat oil in a large frying pan and fry the tomatoes and keep it aside. While cooking the tomatoes add a pinch of salt to it.
  11. In the same oil add the ginger, garlic, chilli and curry leaves and saute till fragrant. Here I've bashed those ingredients in a passel and mortar and added. You can chop it if you want.
  12. Add back the fried tomatoes.
  13. When all the ingredients are combined add in the marinated mutton pieces.
  14. When the mutton starts to cook in the outside add ½ of the fried onions and mix it well.
  15. Stir the mutton for a minute and add in the powdered spices except the garam masala / meat masala powder.
  16. Cook the mutton another 2 minutes and add the yogurt and the ½ of the greens, coriander and mint. Mix well and cook for 5 mts.
  17. Add 1 cup water to the mutton and bring it to boil.
  18. Sprinkle the garam masala / meat masala powder. Now you're whole house will be filled with the biryani smell.
  19. When the mutton is almost cooked, switch off the fire.
  20. Layering mutton and rice :
  21. Remove the big pieces of dry spices from the rice.
  22. In a heavy bottom large pan layer the mutton and slowly add the rice without breaking it.
  23. Spread the remaining fried onions along with the fried raisins and cashew nuts.
  24. Add the remaining greens and milk soaked with saffron. If you're not adding the milk soaked with saffron, sprinkle few handfuls of water.
  25. Add ghee in small amounts in different locations.
  26. Cover tightly, so that no steam from the biryani releases.
  27. Cook in very low fire for 10 mts.
  28. Switch off the fire and try not to open the biryani for an hour.
  29. After an hour open the lid and slowly lift the rice from the sides a few times.
  30. Biryani is ready to be served !