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Monday, 22 July 2013

#1 Amma's Recipe

There is a long history of biryani. And am not gonna talk about that really, you can just Google it ;) Biryani has always been my favourite. The recipe and preparation of biryani differs from state to state, region to region, differing widely in taste and the manner in which they are served. There is Hyderabadi Biryani, Malabar Biryani from Kerala, Lucknow Dum Biryani, Sindhi Biryani, Dindigul Biryani, Bombay Biryani etc etc…..Each has its unique flavour and taste.

I am little too embarrassed to say this ;) My dad has a lot of Muslim friends and I love going to their family weddings with my dad “only” for the Wedding Biryani that they serve. I hope none of my dad’s friends read my blog post :p  So anyway coming back to biryani…I was born and bought up in Chennai and I grew up eating this style of biryani,  “The Bhai Biryani”. The taste, aroma and texture is absolutely fantastic. I have been hunting for an authentic recipe of this Bhai Biryani for a long time. After browsing lot of recipes and gathering lot of tips from our Muslim friends, I was determined to try it out. After making small adjustments to my mom’s original biryani recipe and method, we decided to cook it this weekend. And the verdict? Aromatic and flavourful. BUT the biryani cooked by the cooks over wood fire and charcoal is unbeatable.

So this is how its done in our hometown and to me its the best :) Also do check out my post on Mutton Dum Biryani , Dindigul Mutton Biryani & The Royal Biryani 

Serves 5

You Will Need:

3 Cups of Good Quality Basmati Rice (I use India Gate Classic or Daawat Super Basmati Rice)
3/4 kg Chicken on Bone, Big Cuts
100 ml Vegetable Oil
50 ml Ghee
2 Sticks of Cinnamon
4 Whole Cardamom Pods
2 Bay Leaves
5 Cloves
6 Medium Sized Onions, Finely Sliced
10 Green Chillies
5 Medium Sized Tomatoes, Chopped (Don’t use the hybrid variety, its not sour enough)
1/2 Cup of Finely Chopped Coriander Leaves
1/2 Cup of Finely Chopped Mint Leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp of Ginger Garlic Paste
3/4 Cup of Curd, Thick not Hung
1/2 tsp of Turmeric Powder
1 tsp of Red Chilli Powder, More If You Like It Very Spicy
1/2 tsp of Coriander Powder
Juice of 1 Lemon
1/4 Cup of Milk
A Generous Pinch of Saffron (You can also use orange food colour)
Salt to Taste
1/2 Cup of Water
Atta Dough (Enough to Cover the edges of the vessel)

For the Rice:
A tsp of Oil
Juice of Half a Lemon
2 Cardamom Pods
1 Cinnamon
3 Cloves
Salt to Taste

The Cooking:

Step 1:

Soak the saffron in milk and keep aside. Its absolutely fine to use orange food colour also (I use it all the time ;)

Wash and soak the basmati rice for 30 mins.

Step 2:

Heat a large heavy bottomed vessel OR a pressure cooker on high and add the oil and ghee. Once the oil is hot crackle the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves. Now add the onions and sauté on high till the onions turn a nice light brown.

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Step 3:

Now add the chopped mint and green chillies. Make a small slit in the green chillies, you don’t want them to burst on your face. Keep sautéing till it turn more brown.

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Step 4:

Spoon in the ginger garlic paste and sauté. Bring the heat down, because the ginger garlic paste will start to burn very quickly and stick to the bottom. Sauté for a min and add the red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder.

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Step 5:

After a min of sautéing the species in, pour in the curd and mix well. Keeping the flame high tip in the chopped tomatoes and coriander leaves.

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Step 6:

Now, the tomatoes need to be sautéed well. Add the little rock salt and cook covered on high, stirring occasionally for 7 – 10 mins. At this stage you will see a layer of oil that has separated. Scoop out a ladle of oil in a bowl and keep aside, this needs to go in later. Add the chicken, lemon juice and give it a good mix.

Cover and cook for 5 mins.

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Step 7:

Now add 1/2 cup of water and mix till everything is well incorporated. Now the chicken needs to be cooked. So if you are cooking in a pressure cooker like me, put the lid on and cook on high until one sound. Immediately turn off the heat after one sound and wait till the pressure is released. But if you are not cooking in a pressure cooker, simple cook covered till the chicken is cooked through (Not falling off the bones).

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Step 8:

Meanwhile, the rice needs to be par boiled. So boil ample water in a large deep dish with a tsp of oil, salt, juice of half a lemon and the garam masalas. You can either tie the garam masalas in a muslin / cheese cloth or I just simply added them directly in the water since its just small quantity and they can be scooped out easily later. This is the point where you need to work really quickly so I have not taken much step by step pics.

Once the water starts to boil, gently add handful of rice to the boiling water. When all the rice goes in give one quick stir and let it come to a boil.

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Step 9:

The chicken must be done by this time and IT WILL look bit runny. DO NOT panic. Even I was alarmed when I saw water in the chicken but everything was perfect. Simply transfer the chicken to a bowl.

Now, some say let the rice cook 3/4th or something. But its very difficult to determine what that 3/4th rice actually feels like. So what I would suggest and what actually we did was, let the rice come to a boil. Once the rice starts to boil turn off the heat and scoop out the garam masalas that floats on top.

In the same pressure cooker or vessel you used to cook the chicken, place half of the chicken masala in a single layer. Gently ladle out the rice using a sieve and layer them on top of the chicken. Now place the rest of the chicken over and top off with the remaining rice.

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Gently spread the rice into an even layer and pour over the oil that we scooped out earlier followed by the milk & saffron.

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Step 10:

Now, roll the dough between your palms and place them around the edges of the vessel. Place a plate over the vessel and press down firmly sealing the edges.  Plate a tawa on the stove and place the vessel over the tawa. As the steam heaps inside the vessel they start to come through the dough. So to avoid this and keep all the steam and aroma intact, place a large bowl of hot water over the plate. What this does is, it weighs on the plate sealing the steam right in and the hot water produces heat hence the vessel is heated from down as well as up.

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So this is how funny mine looked ;) So, keep the heat high till the tawa gets really hot. Then lower it completely and let it be for 20 mins. Now exactly after 20 mins, carefully take off the hot water and remove the vessel from the tawa. DO NOT Open immediately. Let it sit for 5 mins and then open.

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Check if the rice is cooked and with a flat spatula, start around the edges and mix the rice and the chicken together. You can also tumble this into a large plate and mix. Anything you are comfortable with. But don’t overwork the rice, it will break.

Serve hot with Onion Raita and Biryani Kathirikai (will post the recipe soon) Now posted ;)

  • Use less oil if you are using fatty chicken with skin.
  • The quality of basmati rice is very important. The whole flavour to any biryani is the meat and rice. The meat ratio is always higher than the rice ratio.
  • Sautéing the onions and tomatoes are very important. Wait till the onions have browned but not crisped or blackened. And the tomatoes must be cooked till soft and mushy.
  • Do not add more than 1/2 cup of water to cook the chicken. 1/4 Cup to 1/2 Cup is enough.
  • The chicken must be “Just Cooked” and not falling right off the bones. Because the chicken will further cook when you are baking it.
  • Handle the rice carefully. When washing, soaking and cooking. Wash twice gently and soak undisturbed. When cooking rice, never stir more than its required.
  • There may be little masala stuck to the bottom of the vessel, scrap that also into the rice.

Happy Cooking!


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