A Recipe for the Perfect Protest Biryani


A Recipe for the Perfect Protest Biryani

Illustration: Shruti Yatam / Arré

As Indians we love our biryani but our love is not an unconditional one. We love a biryani that is less oil, more flavour. More layers, less like a pulao. More more Hindu, less Muslim. More mutton, less beef.
As a result of all these conditions of our love, the biryani is being dragged into the centre of a quasi-religious shit-storm about its origins. First came this video and today, the biryani is having yet another brush with controversy. Four students at JNU, or the Indian Institute of Protest Management, were fined after cooking, serving, and eating biryani outside the administrative block during a protest.

The idea of biryani as protest food is a satisfying one. Thanks to its communal past, it incites the right amount of outrage.

Also, everyone is fighting but at least they’re well-fed as they’re doing it. If you want to fight for your rights #makeabiryani. If you want to fight for reservation #makeabiryani. What if the iconic flower child of the anti-Vietnam war protest had decided to lead with a plate of well-made boneless mutton biryani with a side of raita? Maybe the soldier would’ve had a change of heart and laid down his arms because of the biryani’s aroma.
In the right hands, a plate of tasty biryani is the most effective tool of protest. A well-fed protester is a happy protester – one cannot shout slogans on an empty stomach. So here’s your reciepe for the perfect protest biryani.

Here’s What You Need:

1 kilogram mutton
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup fresh cream
4 red chillies
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup milk
2 cups basmati rice
2 pinches of saffron
2 pods of green cardamom
1/2 cup ghee
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1/2 cup cashews
1 teaspoon garam masala powder

For the marinade:

A cup of yogurt (curd)
1/2 cup mustard oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon powdered star anise
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
Salt to taste

For the garnish:
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1 teaspoon chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon chopped coriander leaves

What to Do With It:

1.Marinate the mutton with all the ingredients for the marinade, preferably overnight.

2. Parboil the rice and fry the cashews in ghee. Soak the saffron in warm milk.

3. Thinly slice and fry the onions until caramelised.

4. Now using 3 tablespoons of the same oil, toast the spices until fragrant.

5. Now add the marinated mutton and cook until the gravy thickens and the mutton cooks through.

6. In a larger pot, layer the cooked rice and the mutton; the top layer should be that of rice. Evenly pour the saffron-infused milk over it.

7. Cover and cook this for 10 to 12 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with the fried onions, coriander, and mint.