Friday, July 3, 2015

Fatima's Yakhni Pullao (Goat)

Fatima’s Yakhni Pullao

Yakhni pullao ready to serve for large gathering.

Yakhni means broth. This pullao is cooked in a golden, collagen rich, fatty goat broth. It is one of my husband's favorite dishes in my repertoire, and I like it a lot, too. It is not chile-hot at all. It's a great weekend dish for the family, but it's also a good fancy dish for a party because it shows "mehmaan nawaazi" that you are serving a lot of meat and high quality basmati rice. A deep stock is enriched by the addition of nalli, or bone marrow. 

*Take note that most of the pics I've added are from a day when I made this pullao for a daawat/party, but I'm giving a family sized recipe. That is why there are greater portions of ingredients than what I specify in the instructions. That day, I used a whole goat shoulder for my iftar party, 7 cups of rice, and 14 cups of yakhni.

The meat: Get about 2 pounds of goat meat, bone-in in medium botis (roughly 2-3 inch cube-ish size). Shoulder and chop pieces preferred. Ask butcher for about a pound of extra goat bones in a separate bag, especially nalli (marrow) bones, and trotters.  Desi halal butchers usually keep bags of this frozen. If you have a knowledgeable butcher, just ask for small to medium pullao cut pieces. If the pieces are too small, they will break apart when cooked.

On the left are the extra bones, on the right is a full shoulder with chops. I have washed this meat in my (spotlessly clean) kitchen sink.

For the yakhni (yields about 10 or so cups of stock)


water to cover meat and bones in pot
1 onion peeled and cut in two halves
15 cloves garlic
about 5 inches of ginger chopped into large chunks (no need to peel, but wash well)
3 tbs whole garam masalas (I buy a bag of mixed whole garam masala, I think Deep brand)
make sure to get a couple of pieces of cassia bark, bay leaves, bari elaichi, and choti elaichi in the mix which will mainly be tiny pods of dhaniya, saunf, zeera, laung, and kali mirch. My mix also has star anise and mace (javitri).
2 whole dried red chiles


Wash meat/bones well. Add to deep stock pot. Add water till the water just covers the meat. Too much water makes a weak stock.

Allow the water to come to a boil. Skim the scum that rises to the top a few times. When you have gotten most of the scum, add in all aromatics and sabit garam masala, and chile pods.

Scum to be skimmed off of the top of the broth before the seasonings are added.

Cover, lower heat to the lowest flame, and simmer for 1 hour and 15-30 mins till meat is very tender but not completely falling apart, and nalli looks loose from bones. My meat here in VA takes 1.5 hours to soften or “gallofy,” but in other places it only took 1 hour to 1.25 hours so use your best judgment on the timing. You don’t want the meat hard and spongy, you don’t want it shredding apart bc you still have to cook the rice and meat together.

About 5 mins before meat is done, add a large amount of salt to the stock. This will flavor the meat. You will still need more salt once the rice process begins.

Strain yakhni and keep the solids aside and allow them to cool. When cool, pick out all of the good meat pieces and keep aside. Now take a Japanese or Korean chopstick, which has a very thin pointy end (or similar thin pronged instrument, unused earwax cleaner, I dunno what else…linking pics so you get the idea of what to use) and use it to gently nudge the nalli out of the bones. Add nalli globules to stock. If you cook meat for a long time, the nalli will fall out on its own, but that would be too long a stage to cook the botis, so better to cook it till it is soft but still needs to be scooped or tapped out.

So you have your nalli floating in stock, and your good meat kept aside. Now throw away all of the spices and aromatics because they have done their job. You can keep a little of the tezpatta and cinnamon for looks if you like.

For the rice:
I use India Gate (Classic) brand rice. You should use your judgment for typical soaking and cooking time requirements of your preferred basmati rice brand. Don't use sella rice or any low grade of basmati. Three cups of raw rice to 6 cups stock will be needed. A 1:2  cup rice:stock ratio is used no matter the size of the pullao.


3 cups basmati rice rinsed well and soaked for approximately 10 minutes (will be strained shortly before adding to the boiling stock)
6 cups stock
salt to taste (about 2.5 tsps or more…use more salt than you think you need)
1 tsp red chile powder
1 tsp zeera seeds whole
1 tsp ground zeera
¼ cup oil (same oil for frying finely sliced onions is ideal, I always keep it in a glass jar)
your boiled meat botis, cool and dry
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1 tsp ghee or butter for basting the serving dish


In a pot with a tight fitting lid: Add oil and zeera, when it sizzles, toss in meat and brown for a couple of minutes. Be gentle so it doesn’t break apart too much. The browning gives flavor but it is already cooked as much as it needs to be.

Toss in ½ o f the fried onions and allow to sizzle for a moment, these are red-brown fried so take care not to blacken them as they are already darkly fried.

Toss in ground spices, allow to sizzle. Before this burns, pour in all of the stock. Allow to come to a boil.

When stock is boiling, add in pre-soaked rice.

Allow stock to come to a boil again. Stir in lemon juice.

All should be bubbling and boiling along nicely. Now, cover and reduce flame to lowest point. Cook for 20 mins covered. After 20 mins, lift lid and allow some steam to escape and turn off flame. Re-cover and allow rice to rest for 10 mins. Resting the rice helps grains stay long and not break apart, as basmati is sensitive.

You will pour this into a large serving dish. I usually butter a deep serving dish like a lasagna pan or turkey broiler pan. Ghee also works well if you prefer that to butter. Before you start the transfer of vessels, put your remaining fried onions in the microwave for about 30 seconds to wake up the flavors. Pour pullao in layers adding a few sprinkles of the fried onion slivers between the layers, adding a final bit on the top layer for looks. Take care not to break the rice, be gentle.

Serve with plain yoghurt, lemon wedges, and if desired, a mild raita.

Left over yakhni can be frozen and used for a plain pullao or as the liquid in gravy. 

A smaller pullao made on a different day.

Rice grains lengthen like noodles and are very tender but separate. 


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