Monday, January 23, 2012

Biriyani, the Nizam’s Way

Recipe: Hyderbadi Biriyani

Last weekend, my husband wanted me to make some Biriyani, his favourite dish, for lunch. Though I equally enjoy Biriyani, I was kind of getting bored with the same old way of getting the dish done. You see, I tend to get bored with food easily and love a change in flavours once in a while.

I really didn’t want to disappoint my husband and so decided to go ahead with the Biriyani plans but of course with a slight twist. I decided to make an attempt with the Hyderbadi style of Biriyani.

Black Cardamom and Caraway Seeds
Hyderbadi Biriyani has a totally different flavour from the Biriyanis made in Kerala (where I come). Some of the spices used here are completely alien to the Kerala cuisine.  These Biriyanis had come into existence during the Nizam era in Hyderabad and hence has a fusion of the Mogul and the Andhra cuisines.

Peppercorns and Green Cardamom
 It has a lovely spice mix and the best part of it is the aroma that engulfs the whole house as you open the vessel. It can bring the whole neighbourhood to your doorsteps.
These Biriyanis are usually made with mutton, but they are good with chicken and vegetables too.
Hyderbadi Biriyanis are usually very hot and fiery but I have adjusted the spices to suit my family and I have used chicken here but you may also replace it with mutton or vegetables as well.



Meat – 500gms
Basmati rice (long grained rice) – 1 ½ cups
Bay leaves – 2
Green cardamom – 10
Black peppercorns – 25-30
Cinnamon – 3 one inch sticks
Onions sliced – 5 large
Chilly powder – 1 tsp
Caraway seeds (kala jeera/ karim jeerakam) – ½ tsp
Cloves – 10
Black cardamom - 2
Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Yogurt – 1 cup
Coriander leaves torn – 2 tbsp
Mint leaves torn – 2 tbsp
Ghee – 4 tbsp
A pinch of Saffron mixed in 1/4 cup milk (I haven’t used this)


Cook rice with salt, bay leaves, 5 green cardamoms, 7-8 peppercorns, 1 cinnamon stick and few drops of oil or ghee until ¾ done. Drain and set aside.

Deep fry half of the sliced onions till golden brown. Drain off excess oil on a tissue paper.

Spice mix for marinade
Caraway seeds
1 cinnamon stick
Remaining peppercorns and cardamom
Grind all these together to get a coarse powder.

Marinate the meat pieces with the powdered spices (from above), yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, chilly powder, half of the fried onions, coriander leaves, half of the mint leaves, salt and 1 tbsp of oil. Mix all these together and set aside in the refrigerator for an hour.

With all the primary steps done, lets now move on to the main preparation, ie, currying the meat.
Heat a heavy bottomed pan and pour in the ghee. Add the remaining 1 cinnamon stick and black cardamom and sauté till fragrant. Now add the remaining onions and continue sautéing till light brown. Finally add in the marinated meat, cover and cook till the meat is done. Do not dry up the gravy.

Assembly for the dum( slow cooking in a sealed vessel)
First place a layer of rice in a deep cooking dish. Top this with meat gravy and follow this with a final layer of rice. Sprinkle the saffron-milk mixture and the remaining mint leaves over the layers and then seal the vessel.  
Now you may do the Dum.
Remember to keep the flame really low while doing the dum or else the water will end up drying too fast for the rice to cook completely. Placing a vessel of boiled water over the Biriyani vessel will also help.

Garnish the Biriyani with the remaining fried onions before serving.
Team this up with any Raita of your choice.

We really enjoyed biting into the tender meat pieces and eating the wonderfully fragrant and flavoured rice. Really a royal treat!!!

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