Growing up as an Indian has always been about spices. I lived them and I loved them. For the most part our lives are surrounded with food. We are undoubtedly the kind of folks who believe that good food is the answer to every problem in this world.
However, being such a diverse country, our tastes and flavor vary widely from one end to another. Just like different dialects, our flavor profiles change at about every 100 to 200 kilometers. From spicy to sweet, we’ve got it all covered.
Each cuisine that we have in our country is primarily a story. A story that tells about how we have so many different influences in our culture. From the Afghan Moguls to the Victorians, each one has contributed to the kind of food that we enjoy and relish today.
Of course, each food item is special in its own right, but since it’s up to me to write, I’ll choose to give you my favorite recipe of the Yakhni Pulao.
Now, one generation ago, our parents would prepare the Yakhni pulao in a much more complicated way, however, today, things are a lot simpler. We have devised many shortcuts and although the elders don’t agree, I’ve found it to be perfectly suitable for our tastes.
Here’s a one pot recipe for my favorite childhood meal!
Heat up a deep pan and add a good amount of oil to it. Now add sliced onions and fry them till brown. At this stage, you can also add all the whole spices or “garam masala” like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, Black cardamom, star anise, bay leaf etc.
When the onions look done, add crushed tomatoes, green chilies, finely chopped ginger, finely chopped garlic and salt. Fry the whole thing till the oil separates. While this is happening, soak some long grain basmati rice in water till it turns opaque white.
Now add the goat meat to the pot and cook it on high heat. This should be done such that the meat gets seared completely and starts turning almost brown. When it does, Pour in water and let it boil on high heat. Bring the whole thing to a raging pot. Here we are trying to prepare a Yakhni, which is basically the stock in which rice will be cooked.
Once the pot is boiling, add a spoon or two of thick yogurt and give it a good stir. Now, cover the pot and let it cook on medium low heat for about an hour. This much time is taken because you want the meat to get cooked properly. Also, since you will be taking so much time, you must add a lot of water and season it accordingly to make sure that it doesn’t evaporate completely.
Once the meat is cooked, it is time to go to the final stage of the preparation. Add the long grain basmati along with some chopped coriander into the pot. Gently stir it because you don’t want to break the grains of rice.
The next step is the most fun one! Cover the pot with Aluminum foil and then place the lid on it. Now use some bread or “roti” dough to completely pack and seal the lid with the pot. This will ensure that your meat doesn’t lose any flavor. All the juices remain inside of the pot and when you crack that dough open; you will get hit of the most fantastic flavors ever!
That’s all! Your beautiful, rich and delicious Yakhni pulao is ready to eat. Although it doesn’t involve any of the complex steps from the authentic recipes, the flavors are all there. I’ve tried this recipe way too many times and I know it works like a charm each time. After I’ve discovered that we can make this beautiful dish so easily, I’ve almost shelved all the food delivery apps in my phone! But if you can’t cook, I guess you should hang on to them!