Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani (Pakki Dum Biryani)

My husband and I love Biryani. Recently, we visited our cousin for the long weekend. Our cousin's wife has been an inspiration to me in more than one ways, one of the reason being she cooks amazing food which is tasty, healthy and marries the best of eastern and western world. She is a working woman, hands-on mom, plus she dishes out the tastiest meals and is a bundle of energy. She'd made Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani for our evening supper. I loved the flavour and she gladly shared the recipe. I've made few changes to suit our palate, but the end result was the best and very easy to cook as well. Of all the Chicken Biryani version's I've made this one is the easiest and the best tasting. This recipe is a common go-to recipe for Biryani now. The cooking style suits anyone who is learning to cook Chicken and Biryani together. Since the meat gets cooked earlier, this is known as Pakki Dum Ki Biryani. Original Biryani version's par-cook and cook them for longer periods. I've changed that to reduce the Dum cooking time. The best is chicken in marinade gets all squished up in a large giant zip lock bag. Less cleaning, lesser sanitizing chores and even lesser post-cooking mess!

The secret ingredient here is meat tenderizer powder which has a profound impact on the texture and softness of the meat. I also added oil to the chicken marinade. This keeps the meat moist and prevents dryness, both result in soft and juicy meat upon cooking. This also takes away my apprehension while cooking meat, primarily because at times its difficult to know if the meat is done or not especially while cooking biryani's in large quantities. This powder is available in India in select grocery stores, if not, one could also use raw papaya paste which can be made in advance, stored in refrigerator and used as per convenience.

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 35-45 minutes
Serves: 6-8

Onions (sliced) - 3 cups
Tomato (chopped) [optional] - 1 cup
Bay leaf - 1
Cinnamon - 2 of 2" stick
Nutmeg - 1/2 teaspoon
Saffron water (a pinch of saffron in 3 tbsp of water or milk)
Biryani Masala - 1 tablespoon of masala for 1 cup of rice: 1 and 1/2 tablespoon used here

Chicken in marinade -
Chicken (thighs chopped into chunks) - 1.5 pound
Coriander leaves (finely chopped) - 1 cup
Mint leaves (finely chopped) - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - 1 tablespoon
Coriander powder - 1 teaspoon
Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Mace (Javitri) [crushed] - 1 teaspoon
Whole black pepper corns - 10
Meat tenderizer (I use Shan brand) - 1 tablespoon for a pound of meat
Garam Masala - 1 tablespoon for 1 pound of Chicken
Yogurt - 2 cups for a pound of meat

Cooking Rice -
Rice - 1 and 1/2 cups
Star Anise - 1
Bay leaf - 1
Cloves - 4
Cinnamon - 2 of 2" sticks

Marinating Chicken - Clean the chicken and trim off the fat and skin. Cut into bite sized chunks. Add all the ingredients of the marinade and set aside in refrigerator for overnight/ 2 hours or at least 30 minutes minimum. I use a zip lock bag for this purpose.
Cooking Rice - Cook rice with oil, salt and the whole spices (1 rice:1 and 1/2 water proportion). Half cook the rice and once done, fork the rice gently, if possible spread on a plate and allow to cool. Set aside.
Cooking Chicken - Heat oil/ghee in a wide mouthed deep bottomed vessel. Once oil is heated and coats the bottom of vessel evenly, add sliced onions. Allow them to sweat, which implies you need not stir it often. Save about 1/2 cup of fried onions and set aside. Once the onions turn to a soft pale hue, add the chicken in marinade. Do not add water. The Chicken packs in lot of water to cook. Bring to a boil, simmer on low flame. Add grated nutmeg & Biryani Masala now. This process takes around 20-30 minutes. Cover with a lid. Check if chicken is fork tender. The gravy will be dry with very less cooking liquor. Once done, add the rice and mix gently. Garnish with saffron water, chopped herbs (optional) and fried onions (optional). Cover with a lid and place heavy weight on top. Seal the sides with a Chapati dough else use an aluminum foil. Cook for 5-8 minutes.

1. Meat tenderizer powder and oil keep the meat chunks in good shape both in terms of taste and texture.
2. Instead of layering the Biryani, I mixed the rice and chicken in gravy, the taste is fabulous. I add Tomatoes to cut through the spices, in addition they also add moisture to the Biryani texture. This is purely optional.
3. Chicken and Yogurt pack in lot of water, so do not add water while cooking chicken.
4. Cook Biryani in a wide mouthed vessel. Cooking process is better and faster for large quantities with meat.
5. Meat with bone has more flavour than boneless, but personally I prefer boneless meat. Pick your choice as per preference.


  1. I'm glad you tried the recipe & enjoyed as much as we did. I made this again when we had guests this weekend and remembered our time together. Biryani image looks YUM!

  2. @ KamS - Thanks a lot! This recipe makes my life a lot easier now. For a large batch of chicken I don't have to bother anymore. Thanks once again.


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