A classic Indian dish made with fragrant basmati rice and a spicy veal curry. Gently mixed and folded togther to create one delicious dish!
I love Indian cuisine so much and one of my favourite dishes is veal biryani. This dish showcases the incredible flavours of Indian cooking. Preparing this dish is lengthy, but it is worth it all.
Biryani is essentially cooking two different dishes and then combining them together to make one epic feast!
- The first dish is a veal curry that is rich with flavour and bold spices, that blend together deliciously.
- The second is a fragrant rice made from basmati and cooked in water with some sweet floral spices.
Once these two dishes have been made, they are gently folded together and served as biryani.
Biryani looks amazing and the presentation definitely allows this dish to be the centrepiece of any big Indian feast. It is perfect alongside other dishes like matar paneer, butter chicken, seafood curry, tandoori chicken, boondi raita and mango chutney.
How to Prepare the Veal
- The cut of meat used in this biryani dish is veal shoulder. This is a big dish and will serve a crowd so about 3 pounds of shoulder is needed. Ask your local butcher to cut it into cubes that are approximately 1 1/2 inch chunks.
- The shoulder is a great cut for biryani. The slow simmering will allow the meat to be very tender and the bones will really enhance the flavour of the dish. It is possible to use other cuts of veal, beef, goat or mutton.
- Mix the veal with minced garlic, ginger, salt and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate. This is an important step and you want to let the meat marinate for at least an hour, and if possible, leave overnight in the fridge.
How to Cook the Veal Curry
I used a very large oval dutch oven that allows me both to cook the veal and add the cooked rice later on. If you don’t have something this large, you could cook the veal in one saucepan/skillet and transfer to a serving bowl with the rice after.
- Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the veal and the sliced onion. Make sure to scrape all that marinade from the bowl into the dutch oven. Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often.
- The next step is to add the many spices that give the biryani its wonderful flavour. Stir in the cumin seeds, paprika, garam masala, ground coriander and dried whole chilies. Make sure the veal is all coated in the spices. Add in the ghee as well. If you are unable to find ghee, then using butter will work just fine. Reduce the heat to medium low and continue to cook for about 20 more minutes.
- Stir in the crisp fried onions, yogurt, and water. Continue to allow this to simmer for about 45 minutes. Make sure to stir regularly so that nothing sticks or burns on the bottom of the dutch oven. During this time the meat will get very tender, and the sauce will deepen in colour to a caramelized brown. Turn off the heat and now the veal is ready for the rice!
How to Make the Fragrant Rice
While the veal is simmering away, it is time to cook the basmati rice. The first step is to let the rice soak in cold water. Place the basmati rice in a large bowl. Fill with water to cover all the rice and stir to mix the rice. Leave the rice to soak for an hour.
Fill a pot with water and add the green cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and whole cloves. Bring the water to a boil. Add the rice to the boiling water and cook until it is tender. This should take around 8 minutes or so. Drain the rice.
Time to Assemble the Biryani!
- Ensure the veal is spread evenly on the bottom of the dutch oven. Scoop the fluffy fragrant rice and place it on top of the meat.
- Using the flat side of a large serving spoon, gently press rice down to pack it into the veal and all that delicious sauce.
- Garnish the top of the rice with some more crisp fried onions, cilantro and some food colouring. The food colouring is optional, but really does add to the presentation of the biryani. Mix a few drops of food colouring (I used orange colour) with a couple teaspoons of water to dilute it. Drizzle the colour over different pockets or areas of the rice. The purpose is not to colour it all, but to just colour some spots of rice.
- Let rest for about 10 minutes. During this time, the bottom part of the rice will soak up and get coated in some of the veal curry sauce. Also some of the rice will absorb and turn the colour of the food colouring.
Gently Folding is the Final Step
The last thing to do before serving the veal biryani is to mix it. But, it is important to not over-mix everything. Use a large spoon and dig down to the bottom, making sure to get some of the veal and sauce. Lift it up and fold it over the rice.
Continue folding different sections. You will notice that some of the rice is coated in the veal curry sauce, while other rice will be a yellowish orange from the colouring. There will also be plenty of rice that is still just bright white. These different colours of rice, along with the chunks of meat and green cilantro, give the biryani that amazing look and presentation.
Once the veal biryani has been mixed, it is ready for serving. If desired, you can scoop it right out of the dutch oven. But, this dish is perfect for that meal centrepiece on the dining room table. Scoop the biryani into a large serving bowl or platter. Garnish with a little bit more fresh minced cilantro for an extra ‘pop’ of colour!
Biryani has so much flavour and every bite is an adventure. This is easily one of my favourite dishes ever. I love to serve it alongside a small bowl of boondi raita or mango chutney. Spooning a little bit of raita or chutney on top of some of the biryani…… incredible!!
- 3 pounds veal shoulder or stewing meat , cut into cubes about 1 1/2 inch in size
- 6 cloves garlic , finely minced
- 2 inch piece ginger , peeled and grated
- 1 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 medium onion , peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 whole dried red chilies
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 3 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 cup ghee , or butter
- 3/4 cup crisp fried onions , French's Fried Onions or other brand
- 3/4 cup plain yogurt
- 2 cups water
- 4 cups basmati rice
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tbsp crisp fried onions
- 2 tbsp fresh cilantro , minced
- 4 drops food colouring , orange or yellow
- 2 tsp water
- In a large bowl, mix the cubed veal with the garlic, ginger, salt and lemon juice until all the pieces of meat are coated. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Let the meat marinate for a minimum of one hour.
How to Cook the Veal
- In a dutch oven or large skillet/saucepan, heat the 1/4 cup oil over medium heat. Add in the veal with the sliced onion and cook, stirring often, for about 15-20 minutes.
- Stir in the dried chilies, cumin seeds, paprika, garam masala, ground coriander and the ghee. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for another 20 minutes, stirring often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the dutch oven.
- Mix in the crisp fried onions, yogurt and 2 cups of water. Continue to let simmer for about 45 minutes. The liquid should cook down and develop a deep brown curry sauce. The meat should be nice and tender. Remove from the heat.
How to Cook the Rice
- While the veal is simmering, add the rice to a large bowl and cover with water. Leave for one hour.
- Fill a large pot with water and add the three cardamom pods, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and two cloves.
- Bring the water to a boil and then add the rice. Cook until tender and then drain.
How to Assemble the Biryani
- Make sure that the veal is evenly spread across the bottom of the dutch oven. Spoon the cooked rice on top of the veal curry. Gently press the rice down to pack it slightly.
- Top the rice with some more crisp fried onions and minced fresh cilantro.
- If desired, mix some orange or yellow food coloring with a couple teaspoons of water and drizzle on some different spots of the rice. Let the biryani rest for about 10 minutes.
- Use a large spoon to fold the biryani. Do this by getting the spoon down to the bottom and turn up some of the veal curry up over the rice. Continue to do this in various spots around the biryani. Be careful not to over-mix. There should be different 'pockets' - some areas should be mixed, other areas should have a little more white rice, while others has a little more of the coloured rice.