My local cooking crash course continues…..I learned to make biryani this week in preparation for pasaka. Biryani is an Indian inspired dish (that is very different here then the kind I have had stateside). It includes basmati rice, meat, spices, and tons of oil. Seriously….like a vat! I do not even want to know how terrible it is for you. But as Jason says “that is why it freakin’ rocks!!” I have wanted to learn to make this for a while and thought Easter was the perfect opportunity since it is a special day meal and we were having friends over for dinner. I now know why although it is a very popular food not every woman knows how to make it. It costs a lot for the ingredients and takes a long time to make (this is also why women here cook in packs…makes a lot of sense to me!) Two fabulous women; Hadija and Asha, from my neighborhood were “on it” when they heard I wanted to learn. They came over days prior to give me lists of necessary market buys and then came by the day before to check and make sure I was indeed going to get everything. They were fabulous teachers and pretty much did most of the labor between me having to nurse and tend to Evy and keep Anni from killing herself (or meltdown) while running around with about 6 watoto that showed up to make the morning a bit more crazy. Well, full disclosure…..that and my local cooking skills continue to puzzle the women here who can virtually cook for an army with one knife, one pot, and a charcoal stove. I took some pictures to document the process (and to help me to remember how to make it). I must say it was absolutely yummy but with the work required I am thinking we will only have it for Christmas and Easter (much to Jason’s chagrin-pole sana!). It was yummy though!!

Here is making biryani…..island style.

start with meat…in this case beef bought at the local butcher and then washed & cut up into small chunks. Add freshly pounded ginger and garlic, then lime, and salt (to tenderize it) some water and boil.

peel, clean, and slice 2 kilos of onions (yep- 2 kilos!!!) I was crying just being in the room which of course the women thought was hilarious.

check constantly adding ingredients as necessary! Lots of TLC!

Fry everything!!! Fry ALL the onion until they are brown, then fry some potatoes, then just for good measure add oil to the rice after it has cooked. My arteries clog just looking at the picture!

After the meat is done cooking add yogurt, tomato paste, tons of spices (hot peppers, cumin, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, bay leaves, black pepper, and coriander)

Then after the fried onions have cooled squeeze and mash them until they are small pieces and then add the onion goo & potatoes to the sauce.

cook for a LONG time and add water, spice, etc when necessary.

We also made a huge sufaria of basmati rice that we colored with saffron- makes it very pretty! Then served the sauce on top of the rice.
After all that work we enjoyed our work by tasting our meal and I unfortunately did not take a picture of the final product…I guess we were too excited to EAT! Some biryani, cold sodas, and conversation was the perfect end to a morning of cooking. And we made enough to share with our guests and several neighbors.
Anni decided to just hang out with friends in the shade to avoid the sweltering hot kitchen… Smart kid!
  1. Anonymous says:

    Just saw Claire had the same dress as Anni on Annie's blog?????

  2. Anonymous says:

    I loved hearing about the food prep. So nice to have all that help – doesn't sound like something to try alone! Sounds good, too!