The moment one hears the word “Biryani”, you already imagine the mildly spiced fragrant aroma of cooked full grained Basmati rice bursting with delicate flavor. This biryani is truly “Shahi” (Royal in all its splendour) with dry fruits & invitingly rich & colorful with a spray of saffron. So I invite you to try out this grand “Badshahi” one pot wonder .. J
Ingredients for the Rice :
1/2 kg Basmati Rice
3 green Cardamom (slightly crushed)
2 Bay Leaves
2 Cinnamon Sticks (1 inch size)
1 big Black Cardamom
½ tsp. Fennel Seeds (Sauf)
½ tsp. Shahijeera (Caraway Seeds)
1 cup Milk
Few strands of Saffron/ Yellow/Orange food color
Salt to taste
For the Marination of Chicken :
4 tender boneless Chicken Breasts
4 Potatoes (peeled, washed & quartered) (optional)
150 gms. Curd (preferably slightly sour)
2 tbsp. fresh Garlic paste
1 tbsp. fresh Ginger paste
½ tbsp. Red Chilli pwd.
1 tsp. Garam Masala pwd.
2 fresh red Tomatoes (peeled, deseeded & chopped)
3 med. Onions (peeled, finely sliced & mix with a little salt)
8 tbsps. Vegetable Oil
For the Masala :
3 Green Cardamom
1 inch piece Cinnamon Stick
1 Star anise
1 tsp. Fennel Seeds
1 tbsp. Caraway Seeds
2 Mace (Javitri)
2 Green Chillies (slit & deseeded)
A fistful of fresh Coriander leaves (washed & chopped)
½ cup fresh Mint leaves (washed & chopped)
6-8 Cashew nuts (optional)
8-10 Raisins (optional)
1 tbsp. Vegetable Oil + 1 Tbsp. Pure Ghee/Home made Ghee
Preparation of the Rice :
First pick, clean & wash the rice with plenty of water (3 to 4 times till the water runs quite clear) & soak in water for about 45 mins. Drain & keep aside.
In a large deep pot/dekchi/handi, pour sufficient water & bring to a rolling boil. (You will need to drain out the water later, so make sure the water is plenty (unmeasured) to cook, expand & fluff the rice well).
Toss in the dry spices in the boiling water.
Then add the rice, salt to taste & stir well. Keep stirring in between till the rice is done three fourths.
Test by pressing the rice between your thumb & index finger; it should break into three parts or test by tasting a grain of rice; it should crumble in the mouth without having a raw bite. This means your rice is cooked right.
Drain the cooked rice & cool completely. The grains will separate easily if the rice is very cool. If you so wish you may discard the large spices from the cooked rice.
Dissolve very lightly roasted & crushed saffron strands in warm milk & keep aside or dissolve liquid food color in 1/3 cup water & keep aside for further use.
Preparation of Chicken Biryani Masala :
Wash the chicken breasts & dice them into desired pieces.
Prepare a marinade with curds, ginger-garlic pastes, red chilli pwd., garam masala pwd. & a little salt.
Mix the chicken in this & let it marinate for about 2-3 hrs.
In a wok/kadhai, heat 5 tbsps. vegetable oil till hot.
Fry the salted onions till golden & crisp.
Drain with a slotted spoon & keep aside to cool.
Reserve some of the fried onions (birishta) for garnish & crush the rest with your fingers. In the same oil fry the cashew nuts & raisins till lightly brown. Drain & keep aside. Prepare a fine, smooth paste using a little water to the ingredients for the masala but reserving some chopped coriander & mint leaves for garnishing.
Rinse the blender & reserve this masala water for later use.
Next, in the same oil, saute the marinated chicken till the rawness disappears & then add the chopped tomatoes. Let it cook till tomatoes are soft. Add the masala paste, fried & crushed onions, stir well & let it cook till rawness disappears.
Add the masala water & the potatoes; stir, add a cup of water & let it come to a boil. Reduce heat & let it cook till the potatoes are cooked & tender.
The gravy too should be thick but of pouring consistency.
Assembling the Biryani :
You can use a large pan/handi. (I used 2 oven proof glass casseroles).
Alternate layers of rice & chicken masala with some strands of fried onions & few chopped coriander & mint leaves.
The top most layer should be rice.
Sprinkle remaining crisp fried onions, chopped coriander & mint leaves.
Then sprinkle the saffron milk/ liquid colored water making sure some of the rice remains white. Sprinkle the cashew nuts & raisins.
Lastly heat together 1 tbsp each of vegetable oil & pure ghee till hot.
Pour it gently on the top layer rice. Make sure you pour it evenly on the rice.
Microwave on high for about 5 mins. covered with the lid.
Let the biryani sit for about 15 mins.
Serve hot with your favourite raita/ green salad & wedges of lime.
Dum Biryani :
If using dekchi/handi, you may dum it. For this make a wet dough (chapatti dough) for sealing the edges of the dekchi/handi. Roll the kneaded dough into a long rope. Fix this dough rope all round the rim of the dekchi/handi. Place the cover & gently press the cover so that the dough holds it together in place. Put the sealed dekchi on a heated iron tawa on the gas & dum it on low heat to simmer gently. You will see steam escaping from the rim after about 30-45 mins or so. Use your discretion & judgement or the bottom of the biryani may burn. Turn off the flame & let it sit for about 15 mins before opening the seal. To test if the cooking process is complete; you will see that the dough will no longer be sticky & when you pry open the lid, it should come off easily. Alternatively, you may seal the dekchi with foil, place the lid & dum it.