Memon Akhnie is a one pot meal, that is authentically Indian. This Rice dish is spicy, moist and bursting with flavour and goodness.
Right at the top, let me clarify what MEMON is for those of my readers that may not know. The term Memon, the origin of this name being derived from the arabic word, MU’MIN (Meaning Believers), refers to a group of muslim community that hail from the western parts of south Asia, many of whom had migrated to Karachi after the partition of India back in 1947. Having an enormous mercantile nature, the memon community proceeded to migrate across to parts, of the then developing countries like, South Africa, Middle East, East Asia, and Sri Lanka, in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Along with their trade and business acumen, Memon’s also have a flair with food. In South Africa, there are many well known dishes by the memon community. The inspiration for this dish, Memon Akhnie, one of my ‘self taught’ dishes, dates back some 16 years. After settling down in Johannesburg that many years back, I had one afternoon, been enjoying a repeat broadcast of a local Islamic Program, that had a cooking slot. On that particular day, Memon Akhnie had been featured, and not one to quickly run for pen and paper to jot down recipes or steps involved, I had kept watching. When I had in passing another week mentioned the dish I had seen being prepared on TV, to Hubby dearest, he immediately said he would love to try it, and if I had the recipe.
Well, we already know now that I had not written it down, so relying on my visual memory from what I had seen, I decided to give Memon Akhnie a try. Memnon Akhnie, falls in the same categories of Pilaff and Pilau, and you may also come across it by just the name AKHNIE. With many different variations around today, you could also find Pilau and Akhnie, with very similar ingredients, except that pilau usually have a little more added vegetables, over and above the potato and meat. So off I went into my then tiny bachelor flat kitchenette, to experiment and try to recreate this Memon Akhnie, a dish that has now become one of hubby’s favourite.
The most unusual step of this Memon Akhnie, Is the frying of the Onions. It needs to be fried until beyond the golden brown stage, almost touching on ‘burnt’, but fear not, it is exactly this step, that gives this Memon Akhnie, it’s distinctive flavour. This way of frying the onions, imparts the flavour, an almost smoky taste to the dish, as if it were being cooked on wood fire…. YES, now this dish can all be done without wood and most especially in the comfort of your home.
Do give my Version of this popular rice dish a try, and I look forward to hearing from you in comments.
HERE ARE MY STEP BY STEP COLLAGE OF THE STEPS I THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT, FOR YOU TO GRASP THE IDEA OF THIS DISH, ONE THAT YOU CAN REFER BACK TO, WHILST READING THROUGH, AND TRYING THE RECIPE.
DO YOU ENJOY AKHNIE, PILAU OR PILAFF… WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE?
REMEMBER TO TAKE A LOOK AT MY OTHER RICE DISH ‘Not So Traditional’ Paella
HAPPY MEMON AKHNIE MAKING LOVELIES
LOVE MARRIAM 💕
AUTHOR: FOODEVA MARSAY (@foodeva_marsay)
1 Kg Lamb/Mutton Pieces, trimmed of fat, washed and drained. Marinate in 2 teaspoon Ginger and Garlic Paste
2 Onions, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon Whole Cumin Seeds, Dry roasted until browned and smoking
1/3 Cup Oil
1 Tablespoon Ghee (optional)
2 and 1/2 Cups Long Grained rice, (wash and Soak in Hot water until needed)
2-3 Potatoes, Peeled, Cut in Halves/Quarters and Tinted Yellow with Egg Yellow food colouring powder
1 Large Tomato Grated + 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste + Pinch of Sugar
1-2 Pieces Cinnamon Sticks
1/2 teaspoon Cardamom Powder
1/2 Cup Plain Yoghurt (OR Maas)
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
2 teaspoon Chillie Powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri Chillie Powder
1 teaspoon Coriander and Cumin Powder (Dhana/Jeera)
1 teaspoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon Salt (+ additional 1-2 teaspoon for rice)
STEP 1 : Dry Roast the Cumin Seeds in a pan, until Darker brown and ‘Smoking’
STEP 2: Heat Oil/Ghee in a large enough pot, and fry onions on high heat. When the onions are just turning a golden brown, add in the roasted cumin seeds to the onions.
STEP 3: Allow the onions and cumin seeds to fry a little more, until onions are a dark brown colour (Almost Burnt).
STEP 4: Add in the Ginger and Garlic marinated Meat pieces to the pot. Stir well. Lower heat setting to medium. Allow meat to braise in it’s own juices, until water is almost evaporated. (+/- 5 minutes). The meat pieces will take on a brownish colour.
STEP 5: Move the pot off the heat, and add in all the spices and the 1 teaspoon salt. Stir through well and put the pot back onto heat source, and allow to come to a simmer.
STEP 6: Now Add the tomato mix, together with 1/4 Cup water. Let the meat cook on medium heat, for 10-15 minutes, or until meat is just becoming tender.
STEP 7: Drain off excess water from the soaked rice, and add the rice, together with potatoes, and the next amount of salt (+/-1-2 teaspoon Salt) *Add 1 teaspoon salt, then adjust as the cooking process continues*.
STEP 8: Top the Pot up with 2 Cups or more water, just enough to cover the rice and potatoes. Allow the Akhnie to gently Cook on low heat, for +/- 40-50 minutes.
Keep checking to see if more water is needed, to allow the potatoes and meat to cook through well. Add in 2 Tablespoon Chopped mint and coriander leaves, just before the dish is done.
* Memon Akhnie is Done, when Water is fully absorbed by the Rice, and potatoes are cooked through well. Take care to gently stir the Pot, to ensure the Akhnie does not Stick to the bottom of the pot.
Serve HOT, with a side of Tomato sambals, salads and Coriander and Mint yoghurt sauce (DHAI/RAITA)
*Kindly share my recipe as Posted, ©www.marriamsayed.com*
NOTES BY FOODEVA MARSAY
> It does seem weird to fry the onions until almost burnt, something that our mums warned us not to do, but do try to go as far as you can possibly go at this stage. The Smoky, Wood-Fire flavour it imparts, makes it worth the initial nervousness😉. Confession…I too had been a nervous wreck the 1st time round, but not anymore.
> Taste as you go along, so you can adjust the salt as needed. Add water gradually if you feel the potatoes need more time to steam through.
> If you prefer Finishing off the dish in the oven, instead of stove top, You may do so.
> You could also substitute the lamb/mutton with chicken