I did my shopping along the week to get all the ingredients/spices for the Breyani. I meant to prepare it on Sunday (October 6). I even asked the maid at the office where I can find a place that sells masala and similar spices. She is Sri-Lankan and I figured that they use something similar in their cuisine. She pointed a close by place, but after some asking and a lot of running around, I declared myself forfeited. I don’t know if it is the maid’s broken Arabic, the people who did not know the place but pointed different spice stores or it was me who did not get the directions: result was no masala. I tried the supermarket but the masala I found had most of the spices I got. I even found a Breyani mix, but again it had the same spices I already had.
But since it was a curry masala I decided to replace by a mix of mild and hot curry.
I think Zee was more nervous about me pulling off the Breyani than I was. She kept insisting I should do some things the night before like frying the potatoes and boiling the lentils. I assured her I am a great multitasker, actually it is what I like most about cooking. The only thing I did on Saturday eve was marinating the meat. I did not use lamb as stipulated in the recipe, for no one really eats lamb in my family and I myself am not a great fan of red meats on the whole. So I picked the meat we use to make Shawerma, since it is one of the rare red meats I actually eat. Zee mentioned the meat should be tender, and Shawerma meat is perfect in that regard. I also went for about 400g of meat instead of the quantity in the recipe because I am at trial point.
I decided to start the rest of the preps on Sunday morning right with the coffee. I made me a great cup of Italian coffee and at 9:30 a.m. started prepping. I washed the potatoes, peeled and cut them. By this time the oil was ready and potatoes went in for a hot bath. I decided to go for small cubes, as the recipe did not specify shape. Also I am not big on a mix of rice and really big potatoes. I chopped the onions. The recipe again did not mention the shape so I decided to go for medium squares versus stripes (no it is not a fabric and we are not talking about fashion).
At this time a bug decided that it needed my coffee more than I do. I sadly discarded the delicious, barely touched coffee and continued my task.
I chose a really big onion that I browned and set about three quarter of it aside for the layering. After it browned, I placed it on a paper towel to remove the excess oil.
The potatoes were golden by then so I put them aside to get rid of excess oil and added the meat to the onions and cooked rest as per recipe.
I boiled the lentils and steamed the rice while the meat was cooking. I decided not to separate the meat from the potatoes for the layering though, because they were small and would probably end up being mixed with the meat again.
By the time the rice was steaming the meat was done so I removed to a plate and cut the remaining potatoes and placed them in the pot, then put some meat and continued with the layering as per recipe. My Breyani was ready to steam by 12 noon. Perfect!
Less than an hour later the Breyani was ready to serve, I mixed all as Zee recommended, prepared the Dhai, I only replaced the chili flakes with some chili white pepper and served. I had my cousin try it and she thought it was delicious: she gave it a “thumbs up”.
The Breyani was approved at home too and everyone conceded that it was an exotic flavor.
Although the Breyani was tasty on its own, I have to thank Zee for the Dhai! It added an amazing depth to the taste, it was a perfect combination and it took the Breyani from good to excellent.
I got to admit that we had a royal meal this Sunday, for mom also made some Shawerma and chicken wings with potatoes. I am sharing the pictures.