Phew! Friday finally. And I have a very special recipe to share today. One from South of South India, especially from Dindugal – Thalappakkati Biryani. I realized it has been quite some time I shared any of my Sunday Biriyani recipes and to get back, this seemed like a great choice – this is a grandeur recipe, rich with spices and flavors.
The history of Thalappakatti and this Biryani is quite unique –prepared and served for the first time in a small sized 4 seater restaurant in 1950s, this biryani recipe is now quite sought after and one of the most popular recipes. Thalapapkatti became a popular brand and in fact, a number of restaurants started mushrooming around the major cities of TamilNadu (a state in India) mimicking the original. The original creators of the recipe and the first ever Thalappakatti restaurant had to have the brand re-established to stay apart from the number of duplicates. Also, the original recipe is a family secret apparently. Then, how do I have this recipe you ask?! After having my first taste of authentic Thalappakkati biryani, I searched all over the internet to find the one that closely matched with the original. The best matched recipe was from Kannamacooks, where the author claims to have the recipe from a paper clipping, as shared by a chef who worked in the restaurant years ago.
So, what sets this Biryani apart from the number of other recipes?! The first thing is the rice used to make this. The variety of rice called Seeraga Samba (or jeeraga Samba) is the pride of Tamilnadu – grown only in specific parts of our state. The rice grains are quite short but have a distinct aroma. When cooked, the grains of rice resemble little pearls and have the tendency to absorb most of the spices/flavor from the Biriyani. One of the reasons, why this biryani turns out super tasty. In my opinion, Basmati rice does not even come closer to the Seeraga Samba.
Thalappakatti Biriyani Masala is quite unique too. Not a lot of spices but the ones used are quite flavorful. Mace, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom, Ginger and Green Chillies – that is all.
Another distinction to this Biriyani recipe is the use of Shallots. Not onions but shallots or small onions. And no shortcuts using store bought ginger garlic paste. A lot of garlic has to be peeled, be prepared for that 🙂
Authentically, this Biryani is prepared with meat. Specifically with the tender meat of goats (that have been fed only on green grass) and that makes this biriyani quite tasty or so I have read. I had to adapt the original recipe and modify it to a veggie version. And I must say that I have fallen in love with this recipe, at the very first attempt. This recipe is a keeper for sure.
To make Thalappakatti Biriyani | Dindugal Thalappakkai Biryani Recipe
What I used –
For Biriyani Masala –
- Cloves, 4
- Green Cardamom, 3
- Cinnamon, 3 x1 inch pieces
- Nutmeg, ¼ (of a nutmeg)
- Mace, 2 or 3
- Green Chillies, 8-10
- Fresh Ginger, 2 inch piece
For Biriyani –
- Shallots, 18-20
- Garlic Pods, atleast 15 (to 20)
- Seeraga Samba Rice, 3 cups
- Oil, 3 tbsp
- Ghee, 2 tbsp
- Mixed Vegetables, 2-3 cups (I used carrots, french beans, potatoes, green peas and cauliflower)
- Red Chilli Powder, 1/2 tsp (optional)
- Thick Curd/Yogurt, ½ cup
- Lemon Juice, 2 tbsp
- Coriander Leaves, 1/4 cup (packed)
- Mint Leaves, 1/3 cup (packed)
- Water, 4 cups
- Salt, as required
How I made –
1. In a mixer jar blend cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and mace into a smooth powder. Add green chillies and chopped up ginger pieces with little water and make it into a smooth paste. Set aside.
2. Blend garlic into a smooth paste and add peeled shallots and grind into a smooth paste. Set aside.
3. In a thick bottomed pan (preferably deep), heat oil and ghee. Add the shallot-garlic paste and also add the ground Biryani Masala. Keep stirring continuously. Initially the paste would completely absorb all the oil but as it keeps cooking, oil would begin to release from the sides. Keep frying it on medium flame for about 7-10 mins.
4. Meanwhile, wash and soak the rice in the water. And boil the vegetables in enough water until cooked. As the biriyani masala begins to leave oil from its sides and starts to turn a brown color, add the cooked vegetables and mix well.
5. Add the salt and red chilli powder, mix well. Add the thick curd and continue to cook the Biryani masala until it starts to thicken again. Add the water used to soak the rice and let it come to a boil.
6. Check for salt and spiciness, adjust accordingly at this stage. Add finely chopped mint and coriander leaves. Squeeze the juice from one small lemon or add 2 tbsp of lemon juice. As the water begins to boil, add the soaked rice. Mix well.
7. Keep it on high flame for 5-6 mins and then close the pan with a heavy lid. Reduce the flame to low and let the Biryani cook for 12-15mins. On opening the lid, the rice should look cooked and there should be no water. Place the lid back on and let the Biriyani rest for atleast another 15mins. Gently mix it all over.
8. Serve hot with a raita of your choice. I served it with onion raita.
- If Seeraga Samba rice is not available, basmati rice can be used – but the taste definitely is not the same.
- I used 8 green chillies and it was just enough spiciness for the amount of Biryani made. Adjust the quantity as per preference.
- Red Chilli powder is optional and can be skipped.
- Nutmeg and mace are quite important and are irreplaceable in this recipe. Don’t use more than 1/4th of a nutmeg as it can quite over powering.
- For the Seeraga Samba rice that I used, 4 cups of water seemed just perfect for 3 cups of rice. Adjust it depending on the quality of the rice. Older the rice, more water would be required.
- Choice of vegetables is as per personal preference.
- Instead of vegetables, mushrooms can be added.
- Don’t soak the rice for more than 20mins. Plan the soaking time depending on how long you have before you have to add the rice.
- This biryani recipe should be paler in color and hence no turmeric is added.
- The rest time for cooked rice is highly recommended as it helps fluff up the rice properly.