Did you know that Yakhni Pulao boasts of its origin from Persia? Mutton yakhni pulao history dates back to the era when the Mughals had first arrived in India. With the passing time as the Mughals rose to the throne and prospered so did this special non-vegetarian pulao recipe. We don’t know for sure but it is said by a few historians that Yakhni Pulao finds its mention in Ain-e-Akbari which is a documented collection of administration details from Mughal emperor Akbar’s rule in India.
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What is a Yakhni Pulao?
If one wants to understand the meaning of the word Yakhni according to one theory, it is a Persian word that means a broth or a gravy. While some believe that Yakhni is indeed a kind of curry that is mainly made using Mutton, Yoghurt and Saffron. In addition to this in West Bengal & Bangladesh side, ‘Akhni’ is also referred for a mixed rice dish that is similar to the biryani & pulao. No matter what the real meaning of Yakhni is, one thing is for sure that Mutton Yakhni Pulao is one dish that has a status of a festival staple dish within the Muslim & North-Indian Protestant Christian communities of India.
Variations in the recipe
There are many curries that are prepared using the Yakhni style of cooking. So is the variation seen in the way Yakhni Pulao is prepared by various chefs these days. I learnt this recipe from my Mother-in-law and the entire extended family back there. At my in-laws’ place, usually, this pulao is made as a part of any sort of celebration. A group of 7 to 8 families come together for celebrating festivals, birthdays & more for enjoying a hearty meal. The best part of this family celebration over a hearty meal is that they also love to cook together and help the host. Celebrations truly become ‘Wow-some’ and are truly the moments to cherish. Apart from the process today one can also see the variation in terms of a key ingredient. So instead of Mutton, dishes like vegetarian yakhni pulao and chicken yakhni pulao are available in restaurants. But still, by far the most celebrated rice pulao still is Mutton Yakhni Pulao.
Mutton Yakhni Pulao Recipe
Serves – 5
Time required to cook – 1.5 to 2 hrs.
Basmati Long Grain Rice (soaked for minimum 30-40 minutes) – 1 Kg.
For Cooking Meat (Ingredients that will go inside the Potli):
-> Bay Leaf – 2Nos.
-> Cinnamon Stick – 2 inch
-> Green Cardamom – 2 Nos.
-> Black Cardamom – 2 Nos.
-> Cloves – 8-10 Nos.
-> Black Peppercorns – 15Nos.
-> Green Chilies (Slit) – 3-4 Nos.
-> Ginger (smashed) – 2 inch piece
-> Garlic (smashed) – 1 full
-> Big Fennel/ Masala Saunf (plain Moti Saunf) – 1& 1/2 Tbsp.
-> Coriander Seeds – 1 & 1/2 Tbsp.
-> Fresh plain white cloth or a handkerchief for making a small potli (pouch) & a little bit of fresh white thread to tie the potli.
For Cooking Meat (Ingredients that will go directly in the cooker apart from potli):
-> Mutton (with minimal fat) – 1 Kg.
-> Onion (roughly chopped) – 1 Large
-> Garlic – 1 Full
-> Ginger (roughly chopped) – 3 Inch
-> Green Chilies (slit)- 3-4 Nos.
-> Salt as per taste
-> Tightly tied Potli with all masalas
-> Water for pressure cooking meat
For Cooking Rice with Meat:
Desi Ghee (Clarified Butter) – 250 Gms.
Yakhni Water (strained liquid soup remaining after taking out cooked meat) – a little less than Double the quantity of rice
Onion (thinly sliced)- 1 & 1/2 large Nos.
Green Cardamom- 2-3 Nos.
Black Cardamom – 2 Nos.
Cloves – 5-6 Nos.
Black peppercorns – 8-10 Nos.
Cinnamon Stick – 2 Inch
Bay Leaf – 2 Nos.
Cumin Seeds or Shahjeera can also be used – 1 Tsp.
Green Chilies (slit) – 2-3 Nos.
Ginger-Garlic Paste – 2-3 Tbsp.
Beaten Curd – 250 ml.
Salt to Taste
Fried Onions & Green Coriander for garnishing
-> Wash and soak rice for about 30-40 minutes.
-> Wash and clean the meat pieces.
-> Now to make the potli, first slightly pulse the coriander seeds along with saunf in a mixer blender. Do not make it into a powder. Next, take the piece of cloth and add all the other mentioned ingredients specifically mentioned for potli/cloth pouch above. Secure the open ends of potli with the thread such that it doesn’t open in the pressure cooking process. Potli with all masalas is ready for cooking meat.
-> In a pressure cooker, add meat pieces, roughly chopped onion, garlic, ginger, green chillies, salt as per taste, potli filled with all masalas and water for pressure cooking meat. I usually take 1/2 glass to 1 glass more water apart from the water needed to submerge meat completely at this stage.
-> Cook on medium heat for about 7-8 minutes or till the meat is 80% per cent cooked. Don’t completely cook the meat at this step otherwise, it will be overcooked that is almost in shreds at the end. To keep it chunky till the end we undercook it at this step. Turn off the flame at this stage.
-> Once the complete pressure is released. Take out the meat chunks and keep them aside. On the other hand, strain the remaining broth or the yakhni water and keep for further use.
-> Now in a thick bottom wok add the ghee, green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, cumin seeds, and slit green chilies. Fry for a minute or two.
-> Then add thinly sliced onions and fry them until light brown. Stir occasionally. Now add ginger-garlic paste and fry till raw fragrance of this paste goes.
-> Next add the meat pieces and mix them well. Cook for 4-5 minutes minutes so that meat will roast fry a little in ghee.
-> Further, add the beaten curd in it and mix everything nicely. once the curd ‘s liquid dries up leaving a little oil on sider then add the yakhni water. Cover the utensil with a lid. Relatively slow cooking without the use of pressure cooker is recommended here at this stage.
-> Once the yakhni water starts boiling add salt as per the taste. Give a quick stir. Next add pre-soaked rice. Mix all the ingredients well. Cover the lid and cook on medium heat.
-> Once all the water dries up and rice are cooked completely turn off the flame. If there is a little water left then wait until the rice are dried well.
-> Lastly, garnish the rice with fried onions and fresh coriander leaves. Yakhni mutton pulao is ready to be relished! Serve with Mutton Curry, Curd Raita, Salad & Coriander- mint chutney.
Do try this Mughlai Mutton Pulao recipe! If you like the recipe then don’t forget to share. 🙂
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