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Bikramjit Ray
Monday , March 14, 2011 at 12 : 12

Bir Bikram?


Sometimes, I just have to make most of the fact that I'm working out of Delhi. When my producer approached me for a brief around the cricket world cup, I didn't do my usual cooking with the players' mothers, because of two reasons.

1: Most players' mums don't care about the show or about appearing on it and

2: Most players eat what people would call, 'health food' and what I would call simply 'unpalatable'. (Please spare me your righteous ire, if it tastes good to me, its going to be bad for my health, a little homily I learnt with every excess kilo I piled on).

So, after much deliberation we -- my poor producers (who work about 12 times as hard as me and get to eat around 1/20th of what I do), came up with the concept of the great Biriyani hunt, featuring the cricket0playing nations of in the Sub-Continent.

With confidence I called up the High Commissions of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and to tell you the truth I got hold of very willing participants for the show. From India, my location producer got me a contestant from the Masterchef India show. We also managed to convince one of the panelists of our cricket show Kings of Cricket, Chris Cairns, to appear as a 'Celebrity' Judge on the show. This was because I was quite confident that I, being the softie that I am, would not be able to identify the best biriyani.

The resulting show, as you will see, produced three of the most outstanding recipes I've had in a long time. Pakistan could not compete with the rest of us, but that is another story, maybe meant for another blog entry.

Our recipes from India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, though WERE enough to entrance Mr Cairns, who was able to pick a clear winner. I'm not saying who I would have chosen, since I wasn't the judge.

You guys will have to decide which of the recipes - uploaded on this blog -- you think is best. A little word of warning: Cooking the Sri Lanka biriyani may be a little tough if you can't source the materials. But good luck and happy cooking.

PS. Do not attempt to make these three one day after the other for the sake of your gall bladder and liver.


Contributed by Nahid Enam

Hilsa Pulao


6 pieces Hilsha fish

1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp Green chilli paste

1 tsp Ginger paste

1 tsp Garlic paste

1/2 cup Onion paste

1 tsp Coriander paste

2 tsp Ghee

1 cup Coconut milk

1 cup Onion chopped

1/3 cup Curd

1.5 tsp Sugar

2 pcs Cardamom

3 pcs Cinnamon

6 pcs Green chilli

1 tbsp Salt

2 cup Basmati rice

1/2 cup Soya bean oil

10/12 pcs Raisins


Take the fish and rubbed with turmeric and salt. Then fry it in some hot vegetable oil till firm. Keep aside. Now in the same oil and put some sliced onions and all paste ingredients with a small amount of water. Next pour curd sugar and add salt. Cook the sauce till it changes colour and the oil comes to the surface. Add the fish. Pour coconut milk and cook while covered. When the oil leaves the curry sauce and the masalas reduce, take the fish and keep it aside once again. Reduce the curry sauce further.Meanwhile in another pan fry half cup of sliced onions in a pan till crisp and keep aside. In some hot oil fry 3 bay leaves and some whole garam masala. Put in ½ a cup of sliced onions, some ginger paste and the rice, which you should wash well beforehand. Pour hot water and salt cover and cook on a low fire until the rice is cooked. Once done, mix in the curry sauce which you have reduced.Now, in a dish, lay out half the pulao, then arrange the fish and finally the other half of the pulao. Garnish with the browned onions.

Sri Lanka

Contributed by Indira Kahandaliyanage

String hopper biriyani


25 rice flour string hoppers

250g. medium size prawns shelled and de-veined

¼ cup coconut milk

1 medium-sized onion thinly sliced

1 carrot finely cut to strips

1 medium size leek

100g. ghee

½ tspn Kashmiri chillie powder

½ tspn. of turmeric

1 leveled tspn. of salt

4 cardamom pods (bruised)

3 cloves

2 slices of inguru piyali (Knoxiaa zeylanica)

5cm piece of rampe (pandan leaves)

1 sprig of curry leaf

1 cm ginger sliced

3 cloves of garlic sliced


4 boiled eggs

50g. cashew nuts and 30g. sultanas sautéed in ghee


Cut up the prawns and mix in ½ teaspoon chilli powder and bit of salt and keep it aside. Break up the string hoppers (made at least six to eight hours ahead) and moisten with the coconut milk and keep it aside. Crush the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and Sri Lankan inguru piyali and keep it aside. Heat the ghee and first fry the prepared prawns till crispy and then set aside. Then, get onions in the pan, add curry leaves and screwpine leaves and fry. To this, add the sliced garlic, sliced ginger and continue to fry. When onions are golden brown, quickly add cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves, turmeric and Sri Lankan inguru piyali (ginger) and stir well to extract the flavour and aroma of the spices. Now add the finely cut carrots and leeks and sprinkle with salt to taste. Turn the heat down and let the vegetables cook for a few minutes. Add the soaked string hoppers and stir with a ladle-stick. Finally add the fried prawns and continue to stir with a wooden ladle stick to fluff up the string hoppers. Garnish with sautéed sultanas, cashew, and halved eggs.


Contributed by Zebi Zubair

Zaikaaye 'Zaib' Khaas

For Lamb/Mutton

½ Kg Lamb/Mutton pieces

1 inch size peeled Ginger

7-8 pcs Garlic Cloves

3 pcs Black Cardamom pods (Kali Elaichi)

4-5 pcs Green Cardamom pods (Hari Elaichi)

4-5 pcs Black Pepper (Kali Mirch)

4-5 pcs Cloves (Laung)

1 Tea Spoon Cinnamon (Daalchini) & Mace (Javetri) powder

1 Tea Spoon Red Chilli Powder

2 Table Spoon Yoghurt

1 pc fine Sliced Onion

Salt to Taste

For Muslin Cloth Potli (Pouch)

2 pcs Black Cardamom Pods

6 pcs Green Cardamom Pods

1 Tea Spoon Black Cumin Seeds (Siah Zeera)

2 pcs Bay Leaves (Tez Patta)

4 pcs Black Pepper

4 pcs Cloves

1 inch pc Cinnamon Stick

1 pc Mace

Pound all the above together in Muslin pouch & keep aside.

For Yakhni

½ kg Basmati Rice

1 pc finely sliced Onion

1 cup Pure Ghee

1 inch pc Ginger

4-5 pcs Garlic Cloves

2 pcs Black Cardamom Pods

4 pcs Green Cardamom Pods

4 pcs Black Pepper

4 pcs Cloves

1 inch pc Cinnamon Stick

1 pc Mace

7-8 pcs Saffron Leaves

Few Drops Kevra Essence

2 Tea Spoon Milk

2-3 pcs Green Chilli

Salt to taste


Preparation of Mutton (Step 1)

Wash the Lamb/Mutton pieces clean. Add yoghurt & keep aside to marinate.

Slice the onion finely & keep aside.

Make a Ginger & Garlic paste along with all ingredients.

Heat Pure Ghee in a Cooker & fry finely sliced Onions till brown. Add paste and keep Bhuno & add Red Chilli Powder till the Ghee is visible on the sides of the Cooker.

Add the marinated Meat and Bhuno it. Later add salt & half cup water. Close the lid and leave on medium heat for cooking till tender.

Preparation of Yakhni (Step 2)

Wash the Rice & Soak for 5-10 minutes, then drain. Keep Saffron leaves in warm Milk.

Make a paste of Ginger & Garlic along with other ingredients except Green Chillies.

Warm ghee in a Degchi/Pateela, add finely sliced onions to fry till golden brown. Keep the fried onions aside on a Tissue paper.

Add Bay Leaves & Black Cumin Seeds in warm Ghee, wait for few seconds & add Paste of Ginger, Garlic with Garam Masala. Bhuno it till Ghee is visible on sides of the Degchi/Pateela. Add 2 cups of water, Salt, whole Green Chillies and Pounded Masala in Muslin Pouch. Cook till it boils.

Add soaked rice & cooked Lamb/Mutton and mix well. Taste Salt to check as per your requirement.

Low heat after one boil and leave to cook till the rice is tender.

Add Kevra essence in Milk soaked Saffron and pour the mixture around cooked Biryani and close the lid.

Mix the Biryani slowly and Sprinkle fried onion for topping before serving.

Secret Kitchen Show Timings:

Saturday 12:30 pm and 6:30 pm

Sun: 1:30 pm and 7:30 pm


More about Bikramjit Ray

Bikramjit Ray joined CNN IBN in August 2005 with a single purpose, to do a food program. Before that, he had somehow managed to get an honours degree in Political Science from Jadavpur University, a fact that continues to befuddle both his batch-mates as well as his professors. He then went on to spend 10 years in journalism, beginning life as a trainee sports reporter in the Times of India and ending it as an Assistant Editor with Today, the tabloid brought out by the India Today group. He worked in the Indian Express for 7 years during this decade and wrote extensively on food in the gourmet section. In January 2005, Bikramjit brought out the India Today 100 top restaurant guide for Delhi. Bikramjit has been associated with Secret Kitchen from its inception, he was fully involved in its birth. Supported by his location producer/director/cinematographer who, along with the Executive Producer of the show are the only two people Bikramjit is actually scared of. Bikramjit's major obsession from a tubby childhood to an obese adulthood remains food. Other interests include reading, voraciously. Surprise, surprise, not always food, but historical crime fiction, and watching TV-especially the midnight advertorials!