Saturday, September 15, 2007

Beef Biryani

Last night I tried another recipe from delicious. magazine, the wonderful Australian food magazine. The recipe was contributed by Ben O'Donoghue and he suggested that it was an easy curry dish for a Friday night. I really liked the idea of layering partially cooked rice, onions and fresh herbs over the curry in a dutch oven to finish cooking and steam the rice with loads of flavor. It is a great method and the basmati rice (purchased in the City Market at 5:45 last night) was wonderful.

This was a much more labor intensive recipe than I imagined, I find myself in this situation quite often, but it was worth it...especially to try something new.
Ben writes that biryani originates in the Hyderabad in central India, and more often than not, these dishes are vegetarian. The skirt steak is a cheap cut of meat, but when marinated and cooked in this manner, it is actually very tender.
I would change a few things if I make it again. For starters, the spices were almost overwhelming, especially the cardamom and cloves. I considered using ground cloves, but decided to honor the recipe. I also purchased cardamom seeds, rather than pods, so every bite of the curry had a whammy of clove or cardamom crunch and punch. If I had corrected that issue, I probably would be making this again next week. The best thing about trying something new is finding a new method; now I will try some different flavor and meat combinations.
beef biryani
Adapted from delicious. magazine, vol 4 issue 7

Serves 6

18 oz beef skirt steak, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
Pinch of saffron threads
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped, plus leaves to garnish

4 T peeled, grated ginger
10 garlic cloves
3 long red chilies, roughly chopped
2 T slice peeled papaya (optional)
2 T sunflower oil
1/2 cup natural yogurt, plus extra to serve
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T ground turmeric

Spice mix
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 onions, thinly sliced
2 t cardamom pods, bruised with back of a knife
1 cinnamon quill, broken
2 t cloves
2 - 3 bay leaves

For the marinade, place ginger, garlic, chili, papaya, if using, and oil in a small bowl of a food processor, or use a stick blender, and puree until smooth. Pour into a bowl with the remaining marinade ingredients and stir will to combine. Place steak in a large bowl, pour marinade over and mix to coat, then set aside to marinate while you make the spice mix.

For the spice mix, heat oil in a large flameproof casserole or wide heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat until almost smoking, add two-thirds of the onion and fry for 5 - 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove onion from casserole and set aside. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook remaining onion and spice mix ingredients for 3-4 minutes, until slightly golden.
Reserving the marinade, add the meat to the casserole with the spice mix. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes or until meat is sealed all over. Stir in the tomato paste and reserve marinade, then simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325. Stir the saffron threads into the milk and set aside to soak for 20 minutes. Wash and drain the rice. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 6-8 minutes. Drain and arrange over the meat, alternating layers with reserved fried onion, mint and cilantro. Pour the saffron milk over, cover with a tight-fitting lid, then bake for 15 minutes until the rice is cooked and beef is tender. Serve in bowls topped with the extra yogurt and coriander leaves.

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