Salwaa’s Mutton Akhni
Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights – Salwaa Smith
Akhni is basically a rice and curry dish which have been made into one. Mutton, lamb or chicken pieces are made into a dish very similar to curry and topped with rice. Basmati or long grain rice is best to use for this dish as with all rice dishes. Akhni is very often served at large gatherings and sometimes made over an open fire (BBQ). The taste of akhni made over an open fire changes completely in comparison to one made on an electric or gas stove. There are different versions of akhni available e.g. akhni is made in most Asian countries and varies by region. Here I share my version of Cape Malay akhni which is served with dhai, tomato and onion salad or various atchars.
1kg mutton/lamb pieces
6 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
1 heaped tsp of saffron
3 large onions, finely chopped
50g butter or margarine
1 cup buttermilk
1 large whole fresh green chilli, slit open
1 Tbsp garlic and ginger paste
1/2 cup chopped fresh dhanya
2 & 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
2 & 1/2 tsp red leaf masala/roasted masala
2 tsp ground jeera/cumin
2 tsp ground coriander/koljana
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp turmeric/borrie
4 – 5 cups basmati rice
1/2 cup cooking oil
2 tsp jeera seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
6 cardamom pods, slit open
4 pieces of stick cinnamon
Wash the mutton pieces, drain and set aside. Boil the potatoes in a little water, till half-cooked but still firm. Infuse the saffron in 1 cup of boiling water and set aside.
Melt the butter in a pan and fry 1 chopped onion in the butter and set aside.
Place the mutton pieces in a large mixing bowl and add the buttermilk, green chilli, garlic and ginger paste, dhania, salt, red leaf masala, ground jeera, ground coriander, chilli powder, and turmeric. Mix thoroughly, ensuring that all of the mutton pieces are covered in the marinade. Set aside for 1 hour.
Rinse the rice in a colander, drain and place in a large pot on medium to high heat. Add water to reach halfway and add 1 teaspoon salt. Boil till half-cooked (the rice grains should be firm). Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain and set aside.
Heat a large pot on medium to high heat, add the oil. Add the jeera seeds, mustard seeds, bay leaves, cardamom seeds, all-spices,cloves and cinnamon. Stir-fry for 1 minute then add the remaining chopped chopped and braise till golden in colour. Add the marinated mutton pieces along with the marinade, the 1 cup of water and simmer on medium heat for about 30 minutes, or till the meat is tender and cooked. Add more water if the meat becomes to dry.
Arrange the potatoes between the mutton pieces and spoon the rice directly on top. Pour the fried onion with the melted butter over the rice, and lastly pour the cup of water containing saffron plus 1 more cup of boiling water over the rice and onions. Turn the plate on high for 5 minutes, then lower it to low. Steam, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn the heat off, leave to “rest” for 10 minutes before serving with dhai and tomato & onion salad.
Note: All akhnis and breyanis should be dished from the bottom up.
Variation: The mutton may be substituted with lamb or chicken pieces (thigh, drumstick, wing and breast,) and prepared in exactly the same manner. Cooking time however will be less if using chicken or lamb. Note that the breast portion should be halved 🙂
© Cape Malay Cooking & Other Delights