Feast on these traditional Dhaka recipes for mutton bryani, beef glassy and nehari


(THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Craving a rich beef dish, or mutton marinated in papaya?

What better way to satisfy your tummy than with traditional Bangladeshi recipes that have been passed down through the generations?

These dishes from old Dhaka, which are served up for special occasions such as weddings or the Eid festival, are sure to warm the stomach - and the heart.

Kachchi Biryani

The term "kachchi" means raw referring to the biryani ingredients being combined raw in layers instead of first cooking the meat or rice separately.

Traditionally, kachchi biryani is cooked in a clay oven and the cooking pot is usually sealed with flour dough to allow the biryani to cook in its own steam. The sealed pot is not opened until the biryani is ready to be served.

Kachchi biryani is usually a featured dish for wedding and social gatherings and celebrations. Layers of meat, rice and potatoes are infused with warm and delectable blends of aromatic spices to prepare kachchi biryani and each spoonful is a mouth-watering surprise.


2 kg mutton (large pieces)

1 kg aromatic or basmati rice

1½ cup ghee

½ kg potatoes, same size

2 cups chopped onion

4 tbsp ginger paste

2 tbsp garlic paste

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 tbsp chilli powder

1½ cup plain yogurt

1 tsp nutmeg powder

½ mace powder

½ tsp cinnamon powder

1 tsp crushed cloves

1 tsp green cardamom powder

10 to 12 whole black peppercorns

10 aloo bukhara (plums)

10 to 12 almonds

¼ cup raisins

3 to 4 tbsp kewra (pandan) essence

Salt as needed

Ground turmeric, just a little, to add colour


1. Clean and rinse the mutton. Marinate with 1 tablespoon of salt for half an hour.

2. Clean the mutton again and completely rinse out all the water. Set aside.

3. Fry the onion until they are crisp. Crush the onions lightly into smaller pieces and set aside.

4. Sprinkle a bit of turmeric on the potatoes and fry them in the same ghee. Keep these aside.

5. Now marinate the mutton with salt, fried onions, ginger, garlic, cumin, chilli powder, cardamom-cinnamon powder, clove and kewra.

6. Pour the marinated mutton along with the mix evenly into a large saucepan. Set aside.

7. In a separate pan, start boiling 6 cups of water with salt. Add rice into the water. As soon as the rice starts to get cooked, turn off the heat and let the water drain. Keep the rice water aside for later use.

8. Add 1 cup of rice water and ½ cup of ghee into the sauce pan containing the mutton. Cover the pan and let it rest for half an hour.

9. Layer the fried potatoes, aloo bukhara, almonds and raisins on top of the mutton. Cover the mutton with rice, and add the remaining rice water and ghee. Make sure the water level just touches the top of the rice. Seal the cover shut by wrapping an aluminum foil all around. Make sure the cover is airtight and the vapour does not get to escape. Alternatively, the cover can also be sealed using wet flour dough.

10. Turn on the stove and start cooking over medium heat. After 15 minutes, lower the heat and cook for about an hour. Keep on low heat until both the rice and meat appear soft and cooked. Remove the cover once the very distinct biryani aroma starts to come out.

11. Mix rice and mutton gently before serving. Serve with chutney or the traditional burhani (spiced yogurt).


Beef Glassy

The term 'glassy' or 'glaze' was a misrepresentation of the word glace by the cooks in the olden days.

Beef glassy is a traditional and popular recipe of old Dhaka. It is supposed to have a thick oil layer, which looks like glass.

Although this is a very rich dish, you can make it yourself by following the recipe.


1 kg beef

1 cup onion paste

1 tsp red chilli powder

½ cup thick milk

2 tbsp curd

2 tbsp ginger paste

2 tbsp garlic paste

1 tbsp peanut paste

1 tbsp pistachio paste

6 to 7 whole green chillies

2 cinnamon sticks

4 cardamon pods

2 tbsp raisin

¼ cup grated mawa (a South Asian dairy product also known as khoa)

½ tbsp nutmeg and mace powder

1 cup fried onion

6 boiled eggs

2 tsp ghee

½ cup oil

Salt to taste


1. Wash beef and mix with onion paste, ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, curd, milk, nut paste, nutmeg, mace, salt and oil. Let it marinate for 30 minutes.

2. Heat oil in a pan. Add marinated beef and cook for 10 minutes while continuing to stir.

3. Add ½ cup of water, cardamom, cinnamon and mawa. Cook for 20 minutes with the lid on.

4. Add green chillies, raisins and half of the fried onion. Cook over a very low flame for 10 minutes. When the meat is tender and oil floats over, remove from heat.

5. Garnish with the remaining fried onion and eggs. Serve hot.


The classic nehari originated back in the 18th century during the Mughal Empire. It used to be a favourite early morning dish of the nawabs who ruled the princely states.

Today, nehari is famous amongst South Asian Muslims, particularly in Dhaka and the coastal city of Chittagong in south-eastern Bangladesh.

The dish takes an entire night to cook and it is ready to eat in the early morning.


1 kg beef or mutton legs, cut into pieces

½ tsp turmeric powder

3 tbsp ginger paste

1 tbsp garlic paste

4 tbsp oil or ghee

3 tbsp whole wheat flour

1 cup deep fried onion

Salt to taste


2 small cardamom pods

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp coriander powder

2 whole black cardamom pods

½ tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp whole black peppercorns

10 dry red chill

2 tbsp poppy seeds

4 to 5 tbsp roasted chickpea powder

10 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 blade of mace

2 bay leaves

½ tsp nutmeg


1 peeled and finely chopped onion

Fresh coriander

2 tsp fresh, peeled and sliced ginger

5 to 6 finely sliced green chillies


1. To make nehari masala, dry roast all the nehari masala ingredients separately. Remove from heat and allow it to cool down. Grind to a fine powder. Keep aside.

2. Heat ghee in a deep pan, add leg pieces, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder and saute on high heat till well browned.

3. Add nehari masala and continue to saute for 2 minutes.

4. Add half of the fried onions and mix. Add enough water and salt and bring it to a boil. Cover and cook in low flame for 7 to 8 hours.

5. Mix whole wheat flour in half cup of water well so that there are no lumps.

6. Add the remaining fried onions to the nehari. Add the wheat flour mixture and mix well.

7. Cook till the gravy thickens and the meat begins to leave the bones.

8. Garnish with the fried onion, ginger slices and green chilli slices. Serve hot.

Sheer khorma

Eid in old Dhaka is not complete without sheer korma.

Sheer korma is a traditional preparation made on the festival of Eid. Every household has its own recipe of this rich preparation.

Here is an authentic version of this delicacy that is loaded with almonds, cashew nuts, pistachios, raisins and dates.

This dish contains huge amounts of milk, many fruits and the main ingredient, vermicelli. This recipe is very popular in old Dhaka.


2 litres milk

1 cup broken vermicelli

3 tbsp ghee

1 tin condensed milk

¼ cup almonds blanched and slivered

¼ cup cashew nuts blanched and slivered

¼ cup pistachio blanched and slivered

¼ cup de-seeded chopped dates

¼ tsp cardamom powder


1. Heat the ghee in a deep pan, add vermicelli and cook till turn golden brown. Keep aside.

2. In the same pan, heat ghee and add chopped dry fruits. Saute for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. (If you are using dried dates, then don't saute them in ghee. Instead cook them in milk. You can also soak them overnight to soften them.)

3. Heat milk till reduced to three-fourths its volume. Add roasted vermicelli and sugar to the milk and simmer till vermicelli is cooked.

4. Add fried dry fruits mixture and cardamom powder and condensed milk. Cook for 5 minutes on low flame.

5. Turn off the stove and stir, garnish with the dry fruits and serve hot, warm or chilled.

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