Chicken Biriyani my Mom’s style
Biriyanis are an evergreen favourite at my house and I guess its same in most Indian homes. My husband can have it 24/7 for 365 days a year and yet never get over it. So obviously it’s a joy making it. I have tried different ways of making Biriyanis but my favourite is the way my mom makes. Its one of her masterpieces which I can say with pride that I have mastered close to her perfection. I am particularly attached to this recipe for another reason as well, this was first dish I whipped up for the husband after our marriage, something that made me an instant star with my In-laws as well :) So I thought I’ll start my posts with this lucky charm of mine, a Magical mix of meat and rice and spices!!!
Long grained rice (I use basmati rice)- 2.5 glasses/ approx 700 gms
Chicken cleaned and cut into medium sized pieces- 1 kg
Onions medium sized- 7 nos: sliced finely
Small Indian onions – 10 nos: crushed
Ginger – 3inch piece crushed
Garlic – 5-6 cloves crushed (in Bahrain where I live, garlic cloves are really big but if you get small garlic cloves at your place you will have to take almost 10-12 pieces)
Tomatoes – 2 medium ones diced
Green chillies – 2-3 slit (I am a less spice person, but u can add more as per your taste)
Curry leaves – a handful
Coriander leaves – a bunch chopped
Chilli powder- 1 ½ tsp
Coriander powder – 1 ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Fennel seed powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Salt – as per requirement
Oil (I prefer using coconut oil, but any other vegetable oil can be used)
Cashew nuts – a handful
Raisins – a handful
Cardamom – 6
Bay leaves – 3
Cinnamon sticks – 3-4
For the marinade
Chilli powder- ½ tsp
Coriander powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric powder – a pinch
Pepper – ½ tsp
Salt a pinch
Curd – 1 tbsp
Step 1:Mix up all the ingredients for the marinade to make a smooth paste and rub it onto the chicken pieces and keep it aside in the refrigerator overnight. This makes your chicken really tender and juicy and yummy!!!
Step 2: Soak rice for about ½ an hr to 1hr. You can do without this step too, but soaking makes the rice really soft and gives a light feeling to this heavy meal .I have tried both ways and I prefer the former.
Step 3: Pour 3-4 tbsp of ghee to a pan and once hot, put ¼ th portion of the sliced onions into this and fry till golden brown .Be careful not it overdo the frying coz it can give a burned taste to your onions. Use a slotted spoon to strain out the onions from the pan. Now put in the cashews and fry till they have turned a nice golden brown, and finally add the raisins and fry these out too. Strain them all out with a slotted spoon and drain out the fat on a tissue paper.
Step 4: Take a deep heavy bottomed vessel or a non stick vessel, pour in 3-4 tbsp of oil, and let it be really hot over the flame. When the oil is hot enough, reduce the flame and add the crushed ginger and garlic and sauté it until it turns a light brown and the lovely aroma starts oozing out of your pan.
I have always preferred crushes ginger and garlic to the paste form of it because this gives us more of its lovely flavour and has far less water content than the pastes and also it takes lesser time to brown up. Once you get the aroma thrusting up into your nose trills, add 3/4th portion of the remaining sliced onions and all of the crushed small onions as well, you can increase the flame now. You would be wondering why I have used the small onions along with the convenient bigger ones. Try it, you will never regret…. The flavour enhancement is amazing. The aroma of the coconut oil- small onion combination is just so tantalizing!!!!!!!
Now sauté the onions till they turn almost dark brown. Once this is done, add on the diced tomatoes, slit chillies and curry leaves and keep sautéing till the tomatoes are almost invisible.
Finally its spice time… drop in all the powders one by one (chilli pwdr, coriander pwdr, turmeric pwdr and fennel seed pwdr), remember to reduce the flame when you do this, we don’t want to burn the spices do we!! Add a tbsp of water as well so that you won’t risk burning the spices at all… keep sautéing the mixture till the aroma is unbearably mouth watering and till your whole neighbourhood starts knocking at your door J. Now the whole masala looks like a single brown lump, and oil starts separating from the mixture.
At this point add the marinated chicken and salt (as per your requirement). Slowly cover the entire chicken with the masala, add approx half glass of water and cover your vessel with a lit. Reduce flame and wait for curry to start boiling. Now add the garam masala and give a slight stir. Keep back the lid and cook for 10-15 mins or until the chicken is well cooked, giving occasional stirs. When the chicken curry comes to a semi gravy consistency you may turn of the flame.
Step 5: Drain away water from the soaked rice using a strainer. Take a vessel and pour in about 2tbsps of ghee, once its hot enough add the whole spices ( cardamoms, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks), let it start spluttering, now add the remaining onions to this and sauté till it turns light brown. Now wait….. don’t forget whiff in the lovely fragrance before you go on J
Well well, now you may add the rice into this mix and sauté for about 1 or 2 mins. Yes you heard me right… but remember just 1 or 2 mins. Your rice will turn nice and soft, trust me!!!
Meanwhile boil 4 and half glasses of water (remember to use the same glass you used to measure your rice)
Usually with basmati rice, water should be double the quantity of rice to cook the rice to the right consistency. But here, since we have had our rice soaked and fried, we need comparatively lesser water for the cooking.
Ok, now lets pour this water into your rice and add a pinch of turmeric powder, remember just a pinch, too much of colour can ruin the beauty of your biriyani. Put in some salt as per your need. Reduce the flame, cover up the vessel and wait for about 10-15 mins or until the water has completely evaporated and the rice has been cooked perfectly well. No 2 rice should stick to each other, That’s how perfect Biriyanis are!!.
Step 6: The Assembly and Dum
With the chicken curry done, The rice cooked and the garnishing ready, its time for the finale, the time to do the Dum.
There’s nothing better than an old fashioned grill for this, but if u don’t have one it’s ok to use the microwave as well. When I use the grill I usually use an aluminium vessel and seal up the vessel with chapatti dough. This time I used the microwave, so I have used a microwave safe vessel and covered the vessel with a lid and set the microwave on high for 5 mins.
For the assembly, take a deep bottomed serving dish, place half of the rice as the first layer, then pour in the whole chicken curry and level it up for the second layer and finally complete the sandwich with the remaining rice and then even out the surface. Close the vessel and do the Dum.
Just before serving, garnish your biriyani with the fried onions, cashews, raisins and the chopped coriander leaf.
The Biriyani is now ready for serving……
Serve your dish with some raita and fried papadom (pappad).
Hope you enjoy your meal!!!!