Wednesday 19 August 2020

Tehari Kofta biriyani
Last week as I was browsing through Facebook, I came across my old school friend Heena's picture and post about this delicious Bangladeshi-style tehari biriyani. Being a biriyani fiend myself, I had to beg Heena for a recipe, and she shared a YouTube video on the making of the recipe, and I was intrigued, as well as suddenly very nostalgic and hungry. 
Tehari style, in Bangladesh refers to rice and meat (mutton, beef, lamb, or chicken) cooked on a low heat, and them mixed together to make a flavourful rice dish. It's a cross between and pulao,  in which all ingredients are cooked together, and a biriyani, in which ingredients are cooked separately and then layered. In India and Pakistan, tehari refers pretty much to a spicy rice and meat dish. 

I have called my dish a tehari-style dish, as I use the tehari technique of cooking the meat in a flavourful sauce (and this can be pretty much a separate dish in itself), and then layering half-cooked rice on top, and finishing in the oven. So strictly, this is an adaptation of the method. I also substituted cream for yogurt, as I didn't have any, and made a few tweaks, to adjust to my family's spice tolerance. i had homemade biriyani spice mix, so I didn't need any additional mixes, other than some extra nutmeg to give the dish its characteristic fragrance, but a traditional tehari style biriyani will have more spices. 
As the dish travels from country to country, people have added and modified the technique to suit their conveniences. For example, I use an oven for the final cooking step of this biriyani, as it offers even heat that surrounds the pot, but traditionally the pot would have sat in banked coals to finish the cooking. People also use an indirect heat to cook the biriyani, by placing it on a cast iron pan over heat, so the heat is diffused and the steam cooks the rice.

I also made kofte for this dish. I had some ground beef that needed to be used up, so I made these meatballs and used them instead of using cuts of meat instead. Even with all the modifications, the dish was delicious, and very close to the traditional tehari, so I was really happy with the way it turned out. It was also surprisingly easy to make, despite the long recipe and many steps. Many of the components can be made ahead of time, and it is a simple job to assemble on the day and pop into the oven, making this the perfect dinner party dish. 

Serve with a side of cool raita, a few sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, and some sliced raw onions.

For the kofte 

2 lbs ground lamb or beef 
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 egg, beaten 
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs 
Salt, to taste
Oil, to shallow fry

For the biriyani

4 tablespoons neutral oil, or ghee, divided
1 inch piece of cinnamon
4 green cardamom pods
6 cloves
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns  
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
2 hot green bird’s eye chilies, finely chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
3 tablespoons biriyani spice mix, * see note
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 cups chicken stock
Large handful chopped fresh cilantro and mint
1/2 cup whipping cream 
Salt, to taste
1 small onion, sliced
1/4 cup raisins
3 cups rice
Water, as required for the rice


Make the kofte - mix all the ingredients, except the oil, in a bowl, and shape into meatballs slightly smaller than a golf ball. Season to taste with salt. 

Add the oil to a shallow pan, and fry the meatballs, until golden on all sides. Drain and keep aside.

To make the biriyani, heat 2 tablespoons of oil or ghee in a heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and black pepper and fry for a minute. Add the chopped onions, and fry for 10 minutes, until soft. Add the ginger and garlic, and chilies, and fry for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes and the biriyani spice mix, and cook until the mixture is thick, around 10 minutes. 

Add the chicken stock, and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste, the stir in the cilantro, mint and whipping cream. 

Add the meatballs to the sauce, and gently stir till coated. 

In the meantime, caramelize the sliced onions in the remaining ghee or oil, for about 30 minutes, until sweet. Add the raisins and keep aside. 

Place the rice in a large pot, and cook with plenty of water, on a high heat, for 10 minutes. Drain. 

Preheat oven to 250 F/ 120 C. 

Distribute the rice evenly on top of the meatballs and sauce, covering the sauce completely. Scatter the caramelized onions and raisins on top, then cover with a tight fitting lid (or aluminium foil) and place in the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes, until the rice is fully cooked. Take out, and mix together the rice into the sauce, and serve hot.

1 comment :

  1. That's made me seriously hungry. I've made a lot of biriyanis over the years in different styles (usually finished in the oven) but I've never made one with kofte and I've really got to correct that omission soon.


I love hearing back from my friends and readers. Please let me know how you liked this post, and if you would consider making this recipe, or have already made it. Please take a moment to post pictures on my Facebook page, if you do happen to take a couple :)

Please note, that due to the enormous amount of spam comments I've been getting, I am re-enabling comment moderation. Your comment will be visible on approval. Apologies in advance.