After almost a week of trying to find the right window of opportunity, I finally found the time to make the Breyani on Wednesday morning. Immediately after getting off work (at about 8am), I was off to the store to gather my ingredients. It was actually nice shopping so early in the morning since most people were either just heading to work, or were not awake yet. I’m not a fan of the holiday crowds. I always feel like I am dodging cars in the middle of a busy freeway when walking the stores this time of year.
This recipe required numerous spices of which I only had about half of. In addition, some of the spices are not used that often in every day cooking here in the US. To my relief, I found all of them but the saffron at the first store I hit. I decided to go with beef instead of lamb in this dish since buying this much lamb would surely empty my entire Christmas savings account. I also had to settle for dry spices instead of fresh ones in some cases as I did not want to drive another 30 miles to an Indian store for solely this reason. I could not believe how much saffron was at the second store. They wanted about $15 for not even a pinch of the stuff. There was even a choice between 3 brands, all about the same price! I reluctantly chose one to ensure I got the fully authentic experience.
First, I cut the sirloin steaks into short strips and marinated them with the spice mixture and lemon juice for a couple of hours. I was careful not to stray too far from the original recipe since this was my first time making anything similar to this dish. Next, I boiled the lentils for about 15 mins and par boiled a wild rice/brown rice mixture for about 30 minutes then set both aside. Then I sautéed the onions in a little oil for 5 mins and added the meat, continuing to heat until it was cooked thoroughly. While the meat was cooking, I began country frying the potatoes and cooked them till about 3/4 of the way done. Finally, I layered everything in a 8qt crock pot, added the saffron, put the lid on, and let it steam on low for about 1 ½ hrs. This dish smelled great while steaming! The combination of spices is very aromatically pleasing and toyed with my hunger as I was preparing it.
When the dish was done steaming, I mixed all the layers through. Upon the recommendation of my fellow buds, I made a coriander yogurt sauce to add to it. To make this, I added about 1 cup of plain yogurt to a bowl and mixed in 1 tsp dried coriander, ½ tsp cumin, 1 clove crushed garlic, ¼ tsp salt, ½ tsp of cayenne pepper and about 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. My recommendation is to skip the lemon juice in this if your yogurt is on the more sour side.
The Breyani was delicious and the smells were fantastic! I found that the coriander yogurt sauce was a great complement to the flavors as well. I did regret paying so much for that little bit of saffron in the end though. I honestly could not taste it through all of the other spices present as it has a milder flavor and aroma. Overall the dish turned out well and I am glad I was able to experience this traditional South African treat. Thanks Zee!