Yakhni pulao is a very popular north Indian Awadhi cuisine. Awadhi cuisine is from the city of lucknow which is the capital of the state Uttar Pradesh. The richness of awadh cusine lies not only in the variety of cusine but also in the ingredients used like mutton, paneer ,ghee and rich spices including cardamom and saffron.
Yakhni pulao is famous in north India and other countries like Pakistan and other countries where yakhni pulao is cooked in different style with many aromatic spices.
The difference between biryani and pulao is that while pulao is made by cooking the meat in with warm aromatic spices in water till the meat is tender, then adding the rice in the meat broth along with meat which is then sealed and cooked over low heat till it's done, whereas biryani, the rice is boiled or parboiled separately in spiced water and then layered with meat curry or marinade, depending on the type of biryani being cooked, which is then sealed and cooked over low heat till it's done.
I have made yakhni pulao too, but I want to give the name as shahi yakhni pulao as in this saffron, dried rose petals , aromatic spices and ghee (clarified butter) goes in it apart from dry fruits and nuts like raisins (kishmish) and cashew nut (kaju).
I have made lamb/mutton yakhni pulao, first I made the stock with lamb pieces with bones, then added to the rice making it more aromatic and delicious fragrant lamb pulao. I have made it with spring lamb, can use mutton or chicken.
In the yakhni pulao many fragrant spices go in the broth or stock but it is not a must, as I had all the ingredients in my kitchen I have used it. You can make pulao with the ingredients available to you.
Shahi yakhni pulao is not spicy like biryani as I make, but very fragrant and delicious to eat. I have cooked the rice as absorption method.
- Spring lamb (with bones) – 750 gms
- Water – 1500 ml or 10 cups
Yakhni (broth or stock)
- Onion – 2
- Ginger – 1 big piece
- Garlic – 1 whole
- Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Black cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Saunf (aniseed) – 1 tsp
- Black pepper seeds – 1 1/2 tsp
- Bay leaves – 2
- Green cardamom – 5
- Cloves – 5
- Cinnamon stick (2 inch pieces) – 3
- Staranise – 2
- Jaiphal (nutmeg, 1 inch piece) – 1
- Javitri (mace) – 2 flowers
- Dry rose petals – 2 tbsp
- Oil/ghee – 1/3 cup
- Onion (sliced) – 2
- Ginger and garlic paste – 2 tbsp
- Bay leaves – 2
- Carrots (sliced) – 2
- Curd – 1 cup
- Green chillies (slit) – 4
- Cooked lamb
- Yakhni (stock) – 4 cup
- Basmati rice – 2 cups to 2 1/2 cups
- Lemon juice – 3 tbsp
- Kewra water – 3 tbsp
- Saffron colour – a pinch
- Saffron (kesar) – a big pinch
- Ghee – 2 tbsp
- Kishmish (raisins) – 3 tbsp
- Cashew nuts – 20
- Salt - as per taste
- Onion (big, for frying and garnishing) – 1
For yakhni (stock)
- Make an x section cut on the onion or roughly cut into chunks, keep it aside.
- Can use the whole garlic clove in the stock or cut into half with skin, no need to peel.
- Chop or cut ginger into pieces.
- Preheat the vessel with enough water; add lamb pieces and all the ingredients except dry rose petals.
- First boil for10min, close the lid cook on simmer flame.
- After 30min add rose petals and cook till the meat is cooked.
- The total time will be 45 mins to 1 hour.
- The yakhni (stock) is now fragrant, flavoured with many aromatic spices and has left meat fat on top which is oily.
- Strain the stock in a wider vessel and keep the meat pieces separately.
- Some spices will be attached to the meat pieces, can be left like that or can remove it as per your taste.
Cooking yakhni pulao
- Fry the onion and cashew nuts separately in deep oil or ghee and keep it aside for garnishing.
- Preheat the vessel with ghee or oil, add bay leaf, onions and fry till it is golden brown.
- Add ginger and garlic paste sauté for 1min, add carrot and coriander leaves, green chillies and stir for 2 to 3min.
- Add curd (simmer the flame) mix well and cook for 7 to 10min on medium flame.
- If the curd is thick adding water 1/2 cup or stock to loosen the curd and cooks well like gravy not dry.
- Add mutton pieces and stock, mix well, boil for 10min.
- Add kewra essence, rice, mix well, and let it cook, till the rice has absorbed the stock and the holes starts coming in the rice.
- At this stage simmer the flame.
- Sprinkle saffron colour, saffron strings, lemon juice, fried onions (optional), coriander leaves and few tbsp of ghee on top, kishmish, kaju.
- Close the lid tightly and cook for 15 to 20 min, till rice is cooked.
- The rice is done when you press few grains between your index finger and thumb and they feel firm but mash completely.
- Switch it off, and let it rest for 5 to 8min.
- Garnish the yakhni pulao with crispy fried onions and serve it with any raitha, chicken or mutton curry and with any fry non veg fry masala.
- For yakhni enough water has to be used like 8 to 10 cups (1cup=200ml) and when cooked gets reduce to 7cups or less.
- The remaining stock can be used for making pulao or biryanis.
- I have directly added saffron (kessar) on the rice can soak in warm milk for few min and then can sprinkle on the rice, same with saffron colour or biryani colour in milk or water (30ml). I have used for the colour reason, can use any one.
- Can add peas for the colour or can omit the vegetables.
- Can make yakhni one day before and refrigerate or freeze it, when required. When refrigerated or it becomes cold the fat of the meat becomes hard and starts floating on top, a thin layer type, can discard for the fat reason or can include as per your taste, as it has the meat flavour.