I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to have Biryani enough to want to make it myself. In fact it is one of the dishes I never considered making. But for some odd reason, I suddenly felt like making it and started watching videos about making Hyderabadi Biryani incessantly.
Of course, I am making a couple of modifications along the way. For example, the majority of recipes suggested having uncooked marinated chicken as the bottom layer. I decided to cook it slightly in ghee with sautéed onions and whole spices. A lot of recipes added the spices to the water meant for boiling rice. I used some while boiling rice and some directly in the oil I used for cooking chicken.
So without further ado, here’s what I did.
Phase 1: Marinate the chicken
Ingredients: 250 gms chicken, 200 gms curd, 2 1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste, salt, turmeric, a handful of finely chopped mint leaves, a handful of crispy fried onion, 2-3 slit green chillies, 1 t 1/2 tsp each of coriander powder, cumin powder and 1 tsp chili powder and fennel seed powder.
Method: I mixed all the ingredients together well and left the chicken to marinate overnight.
Phase 2: Cook the chicken and parboil the rice
1 1/2 cup basmati rice soaked in water for at least 20 minutes, 2 tbsp ghee, 5-7 pepper corns, 4 green cardamom pods, 2 black cardamom pods, 5 cloves, 1 1/2 tsp shahi jeera, some mace, 1 bay leaf, 1 cinnamon stick, 2-3 threads of saffron mixed in 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 cup fried brown onion, a handful each of finely chopped mint leaves and coriander leaves
1. Heat ghee in a non-stick thick bottomed pan, half of the shahi jeera, 2 green cardamom pods, 2 cloves, 1/2 stick of cinnamon, mace, 1 pod of black cardammom and 1 bay leaf.
2. When the warm spice smells start emanating from the pan, throw in half a cup of finely chopped onions.
3. Once the onions turn soft and translucent, add the marinated chicken and mix well.
4. Let the chicken cook for 5-6 minutes.
1. Boil 4-5 cups of water, add salt and the rest of the whole spices.
2. Once the water is boiling, add the rice. Stir gently to avoid breaking the grains.
3. 3. I made sure the rice was only half cooked and fluffed up. The rest of the cooking would be done with the aromatic chicken. Strain the water immediately.
Phase 3: Layering
1. I just rearranged the chicken in the same pan I cooked it in to make sure there were no gaps at the bottom. Then I covered it with a thin layer of cooked rice. I then strew some finely chopped mint, coriander and a handful of the fried onion.
2. I then topped it with another layer of rice and repeated the same layering of mint, coriander and onions. I kept doing this till the rice was over.
3. I then drizzled the milk and saffron mixture over the top layer.
4. I also made 2-3 small holes in the top layer and poured some warm ghee in it.
5. As a final step, I covered the edges of my pan with some bread/ chapati dough and then covered it with a lid. This ensures that the steam stays inside and the rice and chicken all blend well and stay moist.
I cannot even begin to describe the aroma of warm ghee, whole spices, lovely basmati rice, all blended together in a heady concoction of scents in my kitchen. This is what Mughal kitchens probably smelt like.
And I don’t mean to brag, but this is one of the very very few times I was completely and utterly satisfied, why happy with the outcome. I am overstuffed with Biryani and have a layer of well being on my skin as I write this. 🙂
And of course, how could I not share the prep pics. It’s also one of the very few times when I get off by bum for longer and take pictures of each step. so here you go!