Biryani Garnish NO. 1


Preparation info

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

By Bree Hutchins

Published 2013

  • About

This garnish is sprinkled on the top layer of the biryani before it is served. It adds a wonderful rich depth of flavour and it’s what makes the biryani so ridiculously delicious. There is an alarming amount of butter, but trust me, it works! The onions are basically shallow-fried in the butter, which is infused with lemongrass, curry leaves, cinnamon and spices. It’s decadent but frighteningly good.


  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 100 g ( oz/ cup) raw cashew nuts, roughly chopped
  • 250 g (9 oz) unsalted butter
  • 2 red onions*, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 long green chillies*, sliced
  • 10 cm (4 inch) piece rampe (pandanus) leaf*, cut into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves, leaves picked and torn
  • 6 cm ( inch) piece lemongrass, white part only, very finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, ground into a paste
  • 5 cm (2 inch) piece ginger, ground into a paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
  • 50 g ( oz/ cup) raisins
  • 20 g (¾ oz/½ cup) finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 20 g (¾ oz/½ cup) finely chopped mint


    Melt the ghee in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the cashews and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly until golden. Remove the cashews with a slotted spoon and set aside. Melt the butter in the frying pan, then add the onions, chillies, rampe, curry leaves and lemongrass. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are light golden.

    Add the garlic paste, ginger paste and cinnamon sticks and stir well; cook for a further 4-5 minutes, or until the onions are dark golden. Stir in the cashews, raisins, coriander and mint, then remove from the heat and set aside.