Did you know that biryani comes from the Persian word 'birian' which means 'fried before cooking'? Or that there are over 26 varieties of biryani made in India?
It is considered a royal dish of the Nizams and the Nawabs.But now a days,in India, you find restaurants specializing in biryani around every corner.
I am a biryani fanatic. I just love the whiff of spices and the blend of flavors in it. I can eat biryani morning, noon and night.So, by now you would have guessed that this recipe is an all time favorite of mine.Vinit adores it too.Hyderabadi biryani is usually made with Mutton(Goat meat).But since I prefer white meat, I have substituted mutton with chicken.You can absolutely use whatever meat you prefer.
I have made this recipe easier to follow in many ways in comparison to the traditional method of making hyderabadi biriyani without compromising on taste .So, you don't have to run to your favorite restaurant everytime you crave hyderabadi biryani .You have it right at your fingertips.........Yippeeeeee! Here are the flavors which come straight from the Nawab's kitchen.
QUICK TIP: Now the easiest way to go about this recipe is to marinate the chicken or mutton ahead of time.I marinate it and refrigerate it overnight.In this way, the process of making biryani the following day becomes shorter and way easier.
Preparation of the marinade takes about 15 mins.
Preparing the biryani takes about 40 mins
INGREDIENTS (makes 6-7 servings)
- 2 pounds chicken(which includes breast, thighs and legs), cut into 1-1/2 inch peices
- 1 tablespoons papaya paste (tenderising agent)[OPTIONAL]
- 2 tablespoons ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons garlic paste
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
- 2 cinnamon sticks (1 to 1 -1/2 inches each)
- 9 cloves
- 3 bayleafs
- 7 cardamom pods
- 10 tbspns sunflower oil or vegetable oil
- 4 large onions thinly sliced
- 15-20 Cashew nuts
- 1 tspn Saunf(fennel seeds)
- 2 tbspns raisins
- 5 tablespoons whole yogurt
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 green chiles, slit
- 4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
- 3 cups basmati rice
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron (about 10 strands fresh saffron) boiled in 1/2-cup milk for 5 minutes and set aside for 15 mins to allow the color and flavor to transfer to the milk. [ a substitute for saffron is 1/8 tspn of turmeric powder in milk. But ofcourse, the taste will have to be compromised a little if you are going for this option]
- Coriander powder - 4 tbspns
- Garam masala - 1 Tbspn
- Coconut milk - 1 cup(divided into 2 equal halves)
For marinating the chicken:
- Lay the chicken peices in a bowl. Add papaya paste,1 tbsn ginger paste, 1 tbspn garlic paste, salt, turmeric, chilli powder, 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, and 2 cardamom pods. Mix the spices into the meat with your hands.
- Strain the yoghurt in a tea strainer or a cheese cloth for 15-20 mins till all the whey drips out and you are left with a very thick curd.
- Heat refined peanut oil or sunflower oil in a saute pan . Add 3 of the thinly sliced onions and fry until light golden and crisp. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels. Keep 1/3 part of these fried onions aside for garnishing.
- Now fry the cashew nuts and the raisins in the oil and set on a tissue.Reserve the oil.
- Pulse the fried onions in a food processor to get a very coarse paste and rub it onto meat and mix with hands. Add yogurt and mix again. Add lemon juice, half of the mint and half of the coriander leaves and 2 tablespoons of the oil that is leftover from the onions. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour( or overnight) for the flavor to develop.
- Par boil the 3 cups of rice along with 3 pods of cardomom and 3 cloves in 7 cups of salted water.Par boil means to boil only till the rice is half-cooked.[For example , if basmati rice takes 16 mins to cook fully, then this recipe phase requires for the rice to be cooked for only 8-9 mins]
- When the rice is still crunchy in the middle, turn off the flame and strain it, reserving the starchy liquid that is drained from the rice.
- Divide the rice into 2 equal portions. To one portion add the saffron milk and stir and set aside. To the second portion of plain white rice and add 2 tbspns of ghee.Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(177 degrees C)
- In heavy bottom pan heat the oil left over form frying the onions along with 2 tbspns of ghee.Add the bayleaves, remaining pods of cardomom, saunf, cloves and cinnamom sticks.Then, add the slit green chillies and the remaining sliced onions.
- Saute until golden brown.Add the remaining ginger-garlic paste.Saute well.
- Now add the coriander powder,garam masala and the remaining mint and cilantro leaves.When the masala is well sauteed add the marinated chicken along with all the marinade.Add one 1/2 cup of coconut milk and 1/8 cup of water .Cook for 8 mins or till the chicken pieces are half cooked.
- Then, take a lasagna dish or any flat based oven-proof bowl and make a single layer of this chicken masala. Spread evenly all across the base of the dish.
- Layer the rice on top of the chicken masala.
- You can layer the rice in 2 ways. One way is to layer the rice like in this picture here. Layer the ghee rice first on top of the chicken layer and then layer the saffron rice above the ghee rice.This is an easier method.
- The second way is like in the first picture of this posting. Take the ghee rice and saffron rice and layer it alternatively. I have used 2 layers of rice( meaning, that below every ghee rice layer I have layered saffron rice and below every saffron rice layer, there is a ghee rice layer. (I opted for this layering style only for the sake of a good snap)
- In a small bowl, mix the second 1/2 cup of coconut milk with 3/4 cup of the rice-starch drained from the boiled rice(which you have reserved earlier).
- Pour the coconut milk-starch mixture evenly over the top of the rice .Cover the dish with a lid or a aluminium foil and pop it into the preheated oven for 30-35 mins.(Don't open the oven frequently while food is being cooked in it.This leads to sudden drops in oven temperature and your food will remain uncooked in the recommended time)
- When the biryani is done, remove the foil and garnish with fried onions and cashews and raisins.
- While serving the biryani dig right through to get all the layers on your plate.
- Serve with raita.(raita is a simple salad made with yoghurt which is mixed in with chopped onions,cucumber,coriander leaves and salt)