Monday, September 28, 2009

Simple Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani - A too die for dish and one of our favorites. There are many methods and approaches to this dish. This one was prepared some time back. Without further ado I wanted to post them lest I lose the memory of this dish and the yummy fare memories we tucked into with great gusto.

Biryani is a family favorite and all of us can spend weekends munching on some yummy delightful Biryani. Great for family get-togethers and serves best as One Pot Dish as well. Biryani's which have a heirloom flavour associated with it, are painstakingly prepared; one can spend days and months planning Biryani for special festivities. An acquantaince from Hyderabad told me that her mother plans for Biryani during Eid several weeks before. The spices, saffron, herbs, rice, meat is arranged from special vendors whom they have been buying their groceries from. Its a ceremonious occasion and no stone is left unturned to prepare this dish which has its own age old significance and roots. Biryani is believed to be originating from Persia. Meals are served in traditional seating arrangement called as "Dastakhaan". The meat got married with the Pilaf and Biryani was born. The more authentic and flavourful your spices and condiments the better tasting your Biryani and the associated medley of flavours in your mouth. Biryani tastes best when served with Mirchi Ka Saalan, a traditional peanut-pepper sauce which meshes well with the rice grains. Hyderabadi style Biryanis are mostly served with Mirchi Ka Saalan and once you sample this duo combination you would always prefer to eat them together.

I have eaten many versions of Biryani. The Hyderabad version is the most famous one. Paradise - Hyderabad sells one of the most famous Hyderabadi style Dum-Ki-Biryani I have ever eaten. So much so that anybody flying from Hyderabad was pestered to get their vacuum packed version of 2 kgs Biryani. I read some time back that there is a famous potli-ka-masala which is tied in a cheesecloth/ muslin cloth and is dropped in the Biryani when its cooked on Dum. These masala's render the aromatic flavour to the Dum-Ki-Biryani.
Another style Biryani is Andhra style Biryani which I sampled at Malgudi Restaurant in Begumpet, Hyderabad. Large chunks of vegetables cooked in aromatic Basmati rice with whole spices and powders. One of its kind taste and tender cooked vegetables give a whole new meaning to this dish.

Recipe Source: Our family Biryani recipe
Serves ~ 6 to 8 individuals

Basmati Rice (pre-cooked) - 4 cups
Chicken - 4-5 Drumstick (skinless, with bone ~ Tyson Brand)
Cashewnuts - 6-10
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Yogurt - 1 cup
Onions (chopped) - 3 Onions ~ sliced vertically , if Indian Onions, use 4 of them
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Oil - For frying
Cloves - 4-5
Cinnamon - 1 stick
Cardamom - 4-5 (with open pods and non-seeded)
Pepper corns - 4-5
Garam Masala or Pulao Masala - 1 teaspoon (cloves, cardamom, cinnamon powder, bay leaves)
Coriander leaves - 6-10 sprigs (chopped finely)
Salt - As per taste

Heat oil in a deep dish pan and add mustard seeds. Fry Onions (2 - chopped) and cashewnuts (whole) together and saute for a while. Add Chicken pieces, salt, yogurt, masala powder and turmeric powder. Let the chicken cook well in the broth. Cover with a lid for 10-15 minutes.

In a saucepan, heat oil to smoking hot level. Deep fry onions and cashewnuts, transfer on a paper towel and keep them aside.
Water would evaporated after 15 minutes, add the pre-cooked rice, adjust salt level as desired. Pour a garnish of coriander leaves and cashewnuts on top and cook on low flame for 15-20 minutes. Serve hot with Mirchi Ka Saalan.

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