Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gosht Yakhni Pulao

It has been a long time, isn't it? No points for guessing, like any other expat living in the Middle East, I had gone back to India for my summer holidays. It was quite a trip. Six weeks never felt so long! 

Just glad to be back, really, really glad. 

I don't consider myself a foodie. I am a picky eater by any standards and am not very open to new culinary ideas. I also don't live to eat, I eat because I have to live. That's about it. Honestly. But then there are some kinds of food which will break all your pre-set notions and ideas, real or imaginary. It will have a strong grip on you and one must then do nothing but succumb. For me it my Nani's Yakhni Pualo. Chunks of goat meat, cooked with rice in it's own stock, mildly spiced and absolutely perfect. It is my all time favourite one pot meal, anytime, anywhere!  It was made as far back as my fourth generation prior, by my great grandmother, perfected by my grandmother and passed down to our family cook because well, my mother cannot cook! So, I have stepped in and am taking the legacy of Yakhni pulao forward. I am happy to report, my five year old loves it too. Score! The recipe is simple enough, albeit time taking. But throw in some patience and you shall be richly rewarded. You dont need to assemble a lot of ingredients  there can be short cuts employed with no major difference to the final outcome, but trust me on this one-slow and easy, so worth it. 

From a  typical North Indian/Pakistani kitchen,  Gosht Yakhni Pulao. It is in the strictest of terms, truly 'riwaayati' (traditional). Most families also tend to use this same recipe, with the exception of choosing between yoghurt or tomatoes. Please note this is not a Biryani. It is a Pualo and so you don't make layers of rice and meat . Cook this with the usual manner in which you would make any pulao. This pulao is known for it's mild flavours, with the taste of corriander and fennel seeds dominating. Those two are important. Some people add either tomatoes or yoghurt. I add a little of both. As always, the amount of chillies you use is up to you. Try getting the same cuts of meat as you would for a biryani. Be sure to include a few Nallis- for it's marrow. It lends a fantastic flavour to the final prep. Yakhni, means stock and as the name suggests, the difference between this pulao and the other regular ones is the use of meat stock to actually cook the rice in.

Here is what you will need:

1 kg of mutton/beef
2 large onions, sliced thinly and divided in to halves.
1 ' of ginger whole or chopped in to chunks.
6-8 garlic cloves

1 large tomato, cut in to rounds.
1 cup of yoghurt, whisked.

Spices to be coarsely ground: ensure you dont make a powder. 

1 heaped tbsp of fennel seeds
3 tbsp of heaped whole corriander seeds
1 tsp of Shah Jeera + 1/2 tsp more
1.5' stick of cinammon
6 cloves
10-12 black pepper corns
2 black big cardamom
4-6 green cardamom
10 whole dry red chillies ( dont worry too much about the qty being used here, adding yoghurt to the pot will make the pulao mild later)
a pinch of nutmeg and mace each 
1 large bay leaf
*Once you make a powder, take this spice blend and tie it up in a 6' sqaure muslin cloth. This is known as a 'Garni'. You make a little pouch/potli of these masalas, to season your stock. Do use a really thin cloth for this, like I said, use Muslin. 

Good quality Basmati rice- 2.5 cups. Soaked for about 15 minutes, just before you are about to add the rice to cook and not before. 
6 -7 cups of water.
Salt to taste
4 tbsp oil to cook. 

Start by making a stock by boiling the water, salt, mutton pieces, half of the sliced onions, ginger, garlic. Also, add the little 'masala garni' you have made, cook untill meat is tender but not too overcooked. You may use a pressure cooker if you wish to. This is the only time taking process of the recipe. I usually slow cook my meat. In the mean time, while the meat is cooking, take half of the onions you kept aside and fry them caramel golden to garnish later.

Once the meat is done, you can throw away the masala pouch and retain the rest. Strain the stock, and keep the meat pieces aside. retain the onions/ginger/garlic along with it. Make sure the meat is well drained of the stock.

Measure the stock, you should have roughly about 5 -6 cups of stock left. If it is more, boil it down. If it isnt enough, don't worry, we will be using some yoghurt too. 

Next take a deep pot, with a thick bottom, one which has a lid and can be used to make rice. Heat the oil, tip in the 1/2 tsp Shah Jeera. As it sizzles, add the meat pieces and stir it around, let it acquire a slightly brown colour, this should take just a few minutes. The onion/ginger/garlic which was cooked along with the meat and retained later will also go in to this. As this starts drying, add the yoghurt, followed by the drained rice. Mix well, taking care not to let the rice stick to the bottom of the pot. Once it is all mixed in nicely, add the stock. This is where, you decide how much of it goes in. I usually measure by inserting my finger and checking to see if the water level just about reaches the first mark of my middle finger. Check for salt again. Set to boil. First on medium high flame, then low flame. As the water starts to dry, spread the tomato rounds over the top. Cover and cook on very low flame, untill the rice is cooked. I just lower the flame to the lowest mark, let it sit for another maybe fifteen minutes and open it only when I have to serve.

When ready to serve, garnish with caramelised onions. Served with a raita, papads and desi style tomato salsa. This pulao tastes fabulous the next day too. Enjoy.

I made this pulao as soon as I landed back here , to remember home. It was perfect. 


  1. Stock is totally different with the spices than the stock here, and I think the dish sounds yummy. Beeing from South i love everything rice. Said that I don't make often rice evne though i love it.
    Sometimes i think I love to cook more than eat, but then i think that would be wrong i love to eat too :-)

  2. Finla! Welcome here. How nice to have you.
    Stock could be of anything, chicken, vegetables or beef...whatever the recipe demands. Not sometimes, I always love to cook more than eat...I dont enjoy eating anymore...ha ha ha, but I know what you mean. :)