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A Breyani Family Recipe (Plus A Quick Version)
A traditional recipe reworked through generations
Nadia Slamag was inspired to follow her passion for cooking when she had a brain tumour removed two years ago. At the beginning of this year, she started her halaal cooking service, Let Me Cook For You, from her home in Athlone. Here she shares her family breyani recipe, plus a ‘goukyk’ (quick quick) version for when you’re craving breyani, but don’t have the time for the whole shebang.
FOOD, FAMILY, FAITH
Nadia first learned how to make breyani from her mom and says some of her best memories are of the two of them cooking the classic dish together – Nadia’s job was to peel the potatoes and fry the onions. The night before Eid is one of her fondest childhood memories of making breyani.
“Once the moon has been sighted and we know it's Eid the next day, then that evening is always a massive rush. My mom would prepare family lunch for all of us as well as make all the desserts. We’d have to marinate the meat, peel and fry the potatoes and onions, boil the lentils, parboil the rice...” she says.
Nadia’s family recipe for breyani has been passed down and altered by generations, but she believes you’ll be able to taste the love and passion in every dish.
THE RECIPE (2 hours 15 minutes)
What you’ll need to make Nadia’s homestyle breyani (look out for the special spice blend at the end – it’s essential!):
- 1kg lamb or chicken pieces
- 1kg basmati rice parboiled with 2 tablespoons of salt
- 1 cup lentils boiled with 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 potatoes halved lengthwise
- 5 onions thinly sliced
- A dash of oil
- A few strands of saffron soaked in a ½ cup of boiled water
- Double-cream yoghurt or buttermilk. If you don’t have either of these, squeeze lemon juice or vinegar into a cup of milk to make it curdle
- Jeera (cumin seeds)
- Koljana (crushed whole coriander seeds)
- Garlic and ginger (Nadia prefers the Woolworths pods that have ginger, garlic and chilli – and she uses all of it)
- Leaf masala
- Red breyani masala or an Indian hot curry spice from The Spice Shop in Wynberg – an old man mixes spices himself, and that particular blend works well for Nadia
- 2 grated tomatoes
- Shan Bombay Spice (about 2 tablespoons) – most of the spice shops in the Rylands or Gatesville areas should stock it. This is the special spice blend.
Marinade the meat or chicken with all the spices, and the yoghurt or buttermilk. The potatoes must be fried until brown in shallow oil. The onions must also be fried until brown (keep the leftover oil). This is all done separately.
Then move onto layering the breyani:
- In a big pot, pour in some oil to cover the base of the pot, sprinkle a layer of the cooked lentils, then place the fried potatoes to cover the base of the pot
- Add the marinated meat then some onions
- Add a layer of rice, then some lentils and onions. Add the rest of the rice, lentils and onions
- Add a few dollops of butter to the top
- Add in 1 cup of water and the leftover oil from frying the onions and potatoes
- Cover with foil to seal the pot so that no heat escapes then put on the lid
- Put the pot on high for 10 ten minutes then turn it down low to simmer for an hour
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves
This version takes about 45 minutes of prepping time and 1 and a half hours cooking time on low heat.
AND THE “GOUKYK” VERSION (45 minutes on medium heat)
- Marinade the meat the same way
- Boil 4 cups of breyani rice (it has the lentils and all spices included)
- Ready-made sliced onions
- Braise the meat with the ready-made onions, and make a curry-like mixture with the meat and potatoes
- Cook this until the meat and potatoes are soft
- Add the boiled rice and more fried onions and simmer for about 20 minutes
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves
From marinating the meat to boiling the lentils, it’s a lengthy process – but always worth the time, effort and love put into this traditional South African dish.
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