Ambur Kheema Biryani recipe by Chef Deena Dhayalan
The TV Chef talks being on screen, his food choices, and a simple, home-made recipe for the famous biryani
If you’ve watched Chef Deena Dhayalan on his TV show Ajaraipetti, you would think that being on screen comes to The Residency Towers’ Executive Sous Chef as naturally as being in the kitchen does. “But it was not always this way,” says the South Indian cuisine expert, who has previously graced the kitchens of Hotel Radisson Blu and Courtyard by Marriot. “I used to be so uncomfortable in front of cameras that it took three to four hours to complete a segment. But today, I’m doing 15 to 18 segments within four to five hours!” he exclaims. A simple eater himself, who would take a healthy meal put together by his mother over an over-the-top spread, the chef loves presenting dishes that are easy to learn and make.
Ambur Kheema Biryani
Main Ingredients: Seeraga Samba rice (500 grms), Mutton kheema (750 grms)
For Masala: Green chillies (5), cinnamon sticks (3), cardamom pods (3), cloves (3), nutmeg (1/8th), mace (1 small piece), chopped ginger (50 gms)
Other Ingredients: Ghee (25 gms), sunflower oil (75 gms), garlic (50 gms), shallots (50 gms), red chilli powder (½ teaspoon), curd (½ cup), salt (1½ teaspoon), mint leaves (1 handful), coriander leaves (2 handfuls), juice of half a lime.
Crush garlic and shallots separately in a food processor and set both aside. Add ¼ cup of water to the masala ingredients and grind into a fine, smooth paste. Soak the rice in water for half an hour. Heat oil and ghee in a heavy pan and add the masala paste, crushed garlic and crushed shallots. Fry on medium flame for 10 minutes until the oil separates from the mixture. Add in the mutton and chilli powder, and sauté the mutton so the masala coats it evenly. Reduce the flame to simmer, cover it with a lid and let it cook for 15 minutes, while sautéing every five minutes. Add curd. Cook with the lid open for five minutes. Transfer the cooked meat to a bowl and roughly measure how much liquid is left behind (about 1.5 cups, but can vary). The quantity of water must be two times that of the rice. So add 2.5 cups to the 1.5 cups of gravy measured earlier. (Quantity can vary based on what you measure.) Add salt, chopped coriander and mint leaves. Let the mixture come to a boil. Add the kheema and let it come to a boil again. Drain the soaked rice and add it to the pan. Wait for it to boil and add the lime juice. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for the first four minutes on a medium flame. Open the lid and mix gently, and then cover the lid again and simmer for 10 minutes. Switch off the flame and close the pan with a lid. Do not disturb for the next 20 minutes.
1. The ideal ratio of rice to mutton kheema should be 1 rice to 1.5 meat.
2. In the last step, the rice gets swollen and absorbs all the left out moisture. This time is very important. Do not rush.