I should have probably posted this recipe right when I started my food blog. After all, Biryani is not just a dish, its an emotion & tops the chart for most Indians as a favourite. Across the country, you will find so many variations of Biryani - Hyderabadi, Donne, Bengali, Ambur, Lucknowi, Kashmiri and more. But my personal favourite has always been the one with long grained basmati rice , layered between slow cooked meat, which is served along with a mirchi salaan plus raita. I am not going to mention what style my recipe is , since there have been multiple debates, when it comes to cooking styles and techniques to make a biryani. But then, all I can say is - its easy to make , which is my motto when it comes to any food I prepare at home.
In my earlier days of exploring food and understanding the kitchen ingredients - I always thought, if its damn tasty then it must be difficult to prepare a dish. As I ventured into cooking, I realised what a big misconception that can be! To me cooking is therapeutic, I love how spices come along in Indian cuisine and that there are numerous ways to marry these versatile ingredients.
Now what I've understood from cooking various types of Pulav and Biryani is this -there are 3 main components that make or break this dish.
Long grained basmati rice which is cooked al-dente , meat marination and the layering.
One can burn the thinly sliced onions quickly, if you aren't too careful. Let the meat marinate at least for 2hrs or more. Remember to cook your basmati in a spice bouquet - this lends that fragrant flavour to each rice grain.
Brown crispy onions - you will need :
2 large Onions, sliced
1/2 cup Cooking Oil
For Par boiled basmati rice :
2 cups Basmati Rice
4 cups Water ( water level should be 2 inches above the rice grains, while cooking)
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 Star anise
3 Cardamom Pods
For chicken marinade :
600 grams Chicken (I used thighs and leg pieces)
3/4 cup Yogurt/Dahi
1/4 cup Freshly ground Tomato paste
1/4 cup Oil
1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
1 tablespoon Red Chilli Powder (adjust as per spice preference)
1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
1 teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
2 tablespoon Brown Onions
1 teaspoon Salt
Saffron stands and 3 tbsp of warm milk for colour/garnish during layering
1/2 sprig of Mint / Pudina leaves
2 table spoons - Ghee / Clarified Butter.
1. Combine all the ingredients under Chicken Marinade and set aside for 2 hrs.
2. In a large vessel , boil water, add salt , whole spices , basmati rice and oil . The oil will help the grains from not sticking to each other. Let the rice cook for 5-10 mins on medium simmer. Drain the excess water and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a pan and add the onions, fry them until then turn almost a dark hue of golden brown and drain them on a paper towel to remove excess oil.
4. Once the chicken has been marinated, take a deep dish and add the chicken mixture. Cover and cook till the chicken is well done but is not falling off the bone. Avoid stirring multiple times as this tends to break the meat. Check for spice/salt levels at this stage and adjust as per preference. Once the chicken is almost cooked, it is time to start layering it with rice.
5. In a deep and flat vessel / dum handi - layer out the cooked chicken, sprinkle fried onions & mint leaves. Next layer it with the par boiled rice. Drizzle a spoonful of saffron and milk mixture and then repeat this step until all the chicken and rice is done . Add ghee in the final layer along with saffron milk mixture, fried onions and mint leaves.
6. Cook the above on a closed lid, slow flame with no stirring - for about 10-15mins. You may seal the lid with some chapati dough or place a heavy object - this helps to trap the steam and flavours. Once done, let the handi rest for 10 more minutes before serving.
7. Serve hot with Onion tomato raita.