Yakhni Pulao from Lucknow and Awadh region is a one pot dish of mutton and rice, cooked together and delicately spiced, true to its Nawabi origin.
So last year, I became a part of a cookbook group which is dying now (Aparna do something), The group would pick up a cookbook every month and we would cook from it, share pictures and discuss. A little like a book club but cooking specific. I picked up a lot of interesting books as a part of that and Tehzeeb, Culinary Traditions of Awadh was one of them. The book came and for some reason got lost in a lot of my books, despite of being such a gorgeous one. So when the kitchen divas decided that this month, we will be cooking Lucknowi/Awadhi food, I thought it would be an ideal time to remove the dust from the book and get cooking, and came across this Yakhni Pulao recipe.
The book is gorgeous, has breath taking pictures of Lucknow and the royal family, weaves so many stories that will make you smile and give a glimpse of the family’s life. It’s a book I really enjoyed reading and have been cooking from it pretty often. It is meat-centric but does have some great vegetarian recipes too.
The Yakhni Pulao that I present to you today has been made from the book and its one of the few times, I have followed the recipe, almost as it is (despite reducing the amount of oil in it). I also made just half of the the original recipe. For the three of us, one kg mutton and rice just seemed a bit too much. I also marinated the mutton overnight with the spices it was supposed to cook with. Oh well! so much for following the recipe as it is. It did taste fantastically well and the taste was very very similar to the one I have eaten made by a friend’s mom.
Lucknow/Awadhi Recipes : Yakhni Pulao
- 500 gm mutton
- 500 gm basmati rice (washed and soaked for 1/2 hour)
- 4 onions medium
- 3 - 4 cloves garlic
- 1/2 inch ginger
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds
- 5 - 6 black peppercorns
- 2 cardamom black
- 2 cardamom green
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp yoghurt
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
- Oil for frying
- With the help of a mortar and pestle, smash together onion, garlic and ginger roughly. Now mix this with the mutton, fennel, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, black and green cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, yogurt and salt. Leave it for marinate it for 4-6 hour or overnight.
- Next morning, add water to the above and in a heavy bottom pan cook till the meat is tender.
- Finely slice the rest of the onions. Heat oil in a kadhai and fry the onions. When they turn golden, remove them from the heat and spread them on a kitchen napkin.
- When the meat is done, strain the pieces from the stock and store the stock for use later.
- Heat ghee in a wide pan and add half of the fried onions, the ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder and mutton. Fry till the moisture has dried up and the pieces lightly browned.
- Add the washed and drained rice and fry for 2-3 minutes. Now add enough stock to cover the rice about 3-4 inches above. If you are like me and like to measure water and rice ratio, for every glass of rice a little less than 2 glasses of water/stock works. If you are less on stock add some plain water.
- Once the water starts boiling, reduce the heat and simmer till the rice is done and dry. Do no overcook.
- Serve hot garnished with the rest of the fried onions.