Biryani is a delicacy in India. It’s mainly popular in India and the Middle-East. Of course the preparation and techniques vary. There is probably a hundred different ways that it can be made it, mainly depending on the region it’s from. The color, spice usage, way of preparation etc. can vary widely. The recipe I follow is from Malabar region, in Kerala. I’ve adapted my Mom’s recipe which she taught me by guiding me throughout the process of preparation. Different regions use different kinds of rice for biryani. The Malabar biryani uses a kind of rice called jeerakashala rice or another variety called khaima rice. Basmati rice wouldn’t do justice to the recipe.
For the rice:
Rice for the Biryani, is cooked with the spice pouch*
1. Jeerakashala rice – 4 cups
2. Ghee – 4 tbsp (to fry the rice) + 2 tbsp (to fry onions for garnishing)
3. Lime – 2 tsp
4. Salt – To taste
5. Water – 8 cups
7. Rose water – ¼ cup
8. Saffron – 5-6 strands (soaked in 4 tbsp warm milk)
*For the Spice-pouch:
- Fennel seeds – 1tbsp
- Cardamom – 3
- Cinnamon sticks – 2 pieces
- Cloves – 8
- Star anise – 3
- Shajeera /Caraway seeds – 1tsp
- Bay leaf – 2 leaves
Crush all these spices lightly and put them into a small pouch, made from a soft muslin cloth, and tie it up with a thread.
For the chicken masala:
1. Chicken – 1kg, cut into medium pieces
2. Onion – 4 (for the chicken masala), 1 (for garnishing), sliced thinly
3. Tomato – 1, cubed
4. Green chilies – 5-8 (according to heat tolerance)
5. Ginger – 1 big piece
6. Garlic – 1 pod
7. Mint leaves – 1 small bunch
8. Coriander leaves – 1 small bunch
9. Fennel seeds – 2 tbsp
10. Pepper – 1tsp
11. Lime juice – 2 tsp
12. Curd – ½ cup
13. Turmeric – ½ tsp
14. Salt – 1 tsp
15. Ghee – 1 tbsp
· Wash and soak the rice for about an hour. Drain out all the water, you can move the rice onto a soft muslin cloth, tie it up and hang it somewhere so that all the water it drained out.
· After you have soaked the rice, you can start work on marinating the chicken. Roughly crush together ingredients 4 to 9 (listed under chicken masala). You can do this in the chopper in the food processor or use the pulse option on the mixer. Mix this with the chicken, along with ingredients 10 to 14 and keep aside for at least 2-3 hours so that the masala seeps well into the meat.
· Heat a skillet and add 2tbsp ghee to it and fry the onion for the garnish, add some sugar to it so that it gets slightly caramelized. Keep frying on a medium flame till the onion become light brown in color. Strain out of the ghee and keep aside. Keep the ghee aside too for garnishing the rice at the end.
· To the same skillet add the remaining 4tbsp ghee and fry the rice till it’s almost golden in color, on a medium flame. This should take about 20 minutes. Keep stirring gently, ensuring that the rice doesn’t break. While the rice is getting fried, in a separate vessel, boil 8cups water with the spice-pouch, lime juice and salt. Once the rice is fried add the boiled water, close lid and cook on a medium to low flame for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and leave it for another 10 minutes, without opening the lid.
· Now, heat a pressure cooker, add 1tbsp ghee. Add the sliced onions and sauté till it turn pink. Now add the tomato pieces and sauté well. To this add the marinated chicken. Mix well. Cook for about 3-4 whistles. Do not add any extra water. Ensure that the chicken doesn’t get over cooked. Once you open the lid, there will be some gravy. Cook on a low flame till the gravy thickens a little.
· Open the lid on the rice and remove the spice-pouch. Add the rose water, soaked saffron and the ghee that was kept aside for garnishing. Mix well and close lid for another 10 minutes.
· Now for layering the biryani. Take a skillet in which you plan to set the biryani, add about 4-5 spoons of the chicken masala, then add 5-6 spoons of rice, repeat this procedure to make about 3 such layers. Garnish with the fried onions. Cover with a well-fitting lid.
· Heat an iron pan, or any other pan, on high flame and keep the biryani’s skillet on top of it for about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and leave it for another 15 minutes. This is for the dum and helps all the flavors blend well with the rice and the meat.
· Biryani is ready to be served!!!
· Serve with Pappad, Biryani chutney and Salad or Raita.