My understanding of the Yakhni Palau comes from meals we shared at tables with friends and neighbours. It was rice that looked simple but was always full of flavour. It had either chicken or lamb. The yakhni was the broth in which the rice was cooked. The end result was a flavorful Palau.
This dish was created by the Persians, brought to India by the Mughals, and is now mastered by the people of Kashmir. With the Persians ruling a large portion of Asia, similar recipes and names can be found in Turkey and as far west as Romania. The Syrians and Lebanese also have a similar palau.
Traditional Yakhni Palau is prepared with fatty mutton that has been cooked in water, yoghurt and saffron, and as well as warm spices like cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and black pepper. Onions and salt are added. The meat was simmered until it fell off the bone so it could be served boneless (the bones were removed, as were the spices), leaving a clean broth in which to cook the rice with pieces of meat. Once ready to serve, lots of fried onions were topped with fresh mint.
This is my own version of a yakhni palau, which I would like to share.
500 g/1.1 lb lamb, goat or mutton
1 medium onion sliced
1.5 tsp ginger paste
1.5 tsp garlic paste
12 black peppercorns
3 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
1.5 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp corriander powder
1 tsp advieh, optional
2 cup of basmati rice
8 cups water
1 cup of crushed dried fried onion - birista
Pan-fry the bone-in lamb until it's caramelized. Sprinkle it with salt. Throw in the onion. Add all of the spices and cook for a minute. Pour in the water. Bring it to a boil, cover, and lower the heat. Cook until the meat is tender. You should have 4 cups of the broth left over to cook the rice in.
Wash 2 cups of basmati rice. In the same pot, add the rice and a teaspoon of salt to the meat and broth. Add a cupful of birista (fried onion). Bubble and boil it until you can only see the top of the rice. Cover this tightly and allow it to steam for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle it with additional fried onions and fresh mint.Serve this with yoghurt, macerated mint, salt, and sugar.
I have broken away from the tradition and cooked it without the yoghurt and saffron both. It still tastes delicious. But if you wish to, add 3 tbsp of yoghurt when you are cooking the meat, well mixed with the ginger and garlic, to avoid it curdling.
Placing all the meat on top of the rice after the rice has boiled and before it is steamed is an option. wis
If you wish to add roasted egg plants to this dish, it will pair well. You can place the cooked eggplant when you are ready to cook the rice.
Photo credit Niloufer Mavalvala
My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on Amazon.
The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022.
The Vegetarian Parsi, inspired by tradition is an award winning cookbook. It was published by Spenta Multimedia India and is available on Amazon India and through email order at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.