Biryanis are made during special occasions and hugely enjoyed by people all across India. Ideally, it is made with mutton and dum-cooked (steam cooked) but can also be made with chicken, vegetables, paneer, soya too. There are 2 kinds of biryanis ‘kachchi’ and ‘pakki’. Kachchi (raw) biryani is the process where marinated raw meat is placed at the bottom of the vessel and layered with fragrant basmati rice; cooked slowly on low heat on dum; whereas Pakki (cooked) biryani is where the rice and meat are cooked separately and layered on dum. Biryani is an art and if nailed right you have a delicious aromatic serving platter on the table to enjoy.
Cooking biryani is a family event back home and made only during celebrations. My mum would make her Kerala style biryani and my brother would make his restaurant style. A good biryani has aroma, taste and flavours; planning and prep work helps too.
Here, the raw chicken is marinated with curd, coriander-mint leaves, host of aromatic spices and caramelized onions with partially cooked fragrant rice in dum where flavours of the chicken are infused in the rice. The use of yellow chilly powder gives colour and the green chillies provide heat to the biryani.
The key things to look at – use fresh ingredients, age-old good quality rice and saffron. Do not overcook rice as it will spoil the entire dish; it should be fluffy and separated. Season the rice well. When the rice is cooked it doubles in size and has a pleasant aroma. Do marinade the chicken for long hours to get a delicious taste. Do not compromise on the onions, as it lends sweetness to the dish; also it has to be crisp and crunchy.
Fragrant, delicate basmati rice infused with succulent, moist and tender chicken marinated in freshly grounded aromatic spices, curd and herbs with the silky texture of the sweet caramelized onions slow-cooked in dum till perfection.
prep time : 4 hrs or 1 hr-30mins, cooking time : 40-45 mins, serves : 4, cuisine : indian, author : gloria
recipe source : chefG
500 gms chicken with bones
5 medium onions finely sliced (for frying)
few chopped coriander and mint leaves
few fried onions
2 saffron strands (soaked in 4 tbsp lukewarm milk)***
few fried cashew nuts and sliced hard-boiled eggs (optional)
for chicken marinade/curry:
a fistful of mint leaves
a fistful of coriander leaves with tender stem
12 nos green chillies
4 nos big garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
spices : 1 bay leaf, 1 big star anise seed, 4 cloves, 1 tsp peppercorns, 1 black cardamom, 5 green cardamom, 1 big cinnamon stick, 1 whole mace (javitri), 1 black stone flower (dagad phool), 1/2 tsp caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
Grind the above said ingredients into a smooth paste*.
½ tsp yellow chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tbsp coriander powder
½ c curd
salt to taste
5 tbsp oil
2 cups basmati rice
water as needed
spices : 1 bay leaf, 1 brown cardamom, 1” cinnamon stick
½ tsp lemon juice
2 drops of rose water
½ tbsp ghee
salt to taste
Cut chicken into big pieces making small gashes or pierce the chicken using a fork on a chopping board; clean and drain completely or pat dry. Add the grounded paste* along with the spice powders, curd, salt and oil in a bowl. Mix thoroughly to combine well; cling wrap and keep it in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight preferably, undisturbed. After 4 hrs, transfer everything to a large vessel or non-stick pot; now, add fried onions (reserve some for the final garnish). Mix again to combine.**
Wash basmati rice well and soak the rice for 1 hour.
In the meantime, take a wok, add oil and when the oil heats up, add onions and fry till golden brown in colour and crispy. Keep aside.
Heat enough water in a heavy bottom vessel add spices, lemon juice, rose water, ghee and salt. Once it comes to boil, add the rice and allow it to cook. When it is 75%-80% cooked, drain out water completely and transfer half of the rice to the marinated chicken**. Spread evenly.
Add the saffron solution***, fried onions, few coriander-mint leaves, little oil/ghee and finish it off with the remaining rice; repeat process. Cover it with aluminium foil.
Now, place the vessel over a flat pan/tawa, keep the heat on medium-high for 10 minutes. Lower heat and cook slowly for 40-45 minutes or till done.
Switch off heat. Allow it to rest for 20 minutes before uncovering. Once opened, using the prongs of the fork, carefully separate the rice to give a light and fluffy texture.
Serve hot immediately with zingy pomegranate raita and enjoy!
my observations/notes :
-if the chicken is inclined to be tough, cook it partially over slow fire after marinating
– use aged flavourful basmati rice of very good quality and fresh chicken with bones (preferably) to make it more flavourful. can use boneless chicken too
– the chicken has to be cooked till tender and the grains of the rice should be nicely separated
– can use fried cashew-nuts and sliced hard-boiled eggs to garnish the dish
– yellow chilli powder can be replaced with red
– if using red chilli powder, decrease the amount of green chillies
– my batch of yellow chilli powder got over, therefore, I used half teaspoon; it can be increased to another half
– I used aluminium foil to avoid any additional clean up work. can use dough or a moist cloth sealing the lid very tightly