Chicken Biryani ( Ready in 50 minutes )
I had this epiphany last month that I never wrote about pulao and biryani on the blog which was surprising even for myself because when it comes to desi food, biryani would definitely be my second favorite dish ( after Nihari of course ) and I make it every weekend, no exaggeration at all! May be because I make it so often that it is too main stream in my blogging opinion or may be because there is not just one way of making it and there are countless types of biryani. All reasons aside, I am here today to share the ONLY kind of biryani I make and it tastes exactly the same each time.
So biryani is a rice dish with meat added to it in layer or layers. It’s trademark is it’s beautiful vibrant colors, it’s irresistible aroma and a delicate balance of tanginess and spice. Just like 99% of all desi food, level of spice is subjective. With Pulao, it is kinda mandatory to have at least one gravy to accompany it and to round off all textures and flavors or as Tom Cruise would say, ” You complete me <3″ but biryani is more of an independent dish and requires no gravy to elevate its elements. Salad and raita are pretty much like biryani’s fans who are there to brag about their association with a hero with selfies and photos and to make a super star shine even brighter. That just gave me an idea of a desi food love story animated movie and suddenly everything has a cartoonish face in my head. Very cute indeed.
Great thing is that it ready to be eaten under an hour but only once rice and chicken mixture preparation starts at the same time, side by side. Beef or mutton would take longer. For those who are just starting to learn cooking, biryani could be a little intimidating, so say no to pressure of cooking and focus on meat mix and prepare it first and then boil the rice and then the twain shall meet ( sorry Rudyard Kipling!)
- Chicken: Chicken should be cleaned, washed and excess water drained. I am using about 3 pounds, roughly 1.5 kg chicken pieces with bones. Brown sliced onion in oil, add chicken and pan roast. This step is very important. Stove flame should be medium high and chicken should be tossed and turned in the pan for about 5 minutes, without adding any water or any other ingredient, to give it a brownish color. This will ensure that pieces won’t break during further cooking and seals moisture inside the meat so it stays juicy and moist once thoroughly cooked. I prefer cooking chicken in a wok as it is quicker to brown and cook chicken ( due to wok’s shape) but any big pot would do too. Once chicken is well browned, add ginger garlic paste, cook for another minute and then add tomato puree, biryani masala and seasoning. Cook while stirring till oil separates, about a minute or two, add water and let it cook.
- Rice: Usually rice to chicken ratio is the same. Sella and basmati both rice work fine but basmati is my fav. As I always say, nothing beats good quality. Use good quality rice for exceptionally good biryani. For best results, don’t just add salt to the water to boil rice, season the water with whole spices and your rice will be so fragrant and so flavorful. I put about 1 tsp of salt per cup of rice with white cumin seeds, coriander seeds, black cardamoms, green cardamoms, black pepper corns, star anise, cinnamon stick, a tsp of garam masala powder with a big whole green chilli to the water, bring it to boil and then add rice. ( I put most whole garam masala elements in a tea leaves holder or herb infuser to avoid too much whole masala visible in the rice)
How about I add more details in Wednesday Wisdom? Sure. Lets go to the recipe.
Chicken Biryani ( Ready in 50 Minutes)
A gem of Pakistani cuisine which needs no introduction. A perfect blend of spices, flavors and textures to please all palates.
- For Chicken
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 1.5 kg chicken with bones, cut in to pieces
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- ½ cup tomato puree (or use 4-5 ripe tomatoes,chopped or blended)
- 1 packet Shan Bombay Biryani Masala (see notes)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 big green chilli, cut in to two
- For Rice
- 6½ cups long grain basmati rice, washed and soaked
- 3.5 litres water (more or less)
- 7 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp white cumin seeds
- 1½ tbsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed
- 1 big green chilli
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 4-5 pods green cardamom
- 1 pod black cardamom
- 6-7 whole black pepper corns
- 4-5 whole cloves
- 1 stick cinamon
- 1 star anise
- For layering
- 9-10 curry leaves
- 12-15 fresh mint leaves
- 2-3 medium lemons, sliced
- 1½ tbsp deep orange food color (or red color)
- ⅓ cup cooking oil
For chicken, heat oil in a wok, over medium high flame and add sliced onions.
Fry till deep golden brown, stirring in between, about 3 minutes.
Add chicken to well browned onion and keep stirring and tossing meats get goldenish brown, all water evaporates and oil separates.
Add ginger garlic paste and stir and cook for another minute.
Add in tomato puree, biryani masala, salt and green chilli. Mix, stir and cook till oil can be seen on the edges of the wok.
Pour in about ½-¾ cup water, bring to a boil, cover the wok and lower the flame to medium.
Keep stirring after 3-4 minutes and cook till water is evaporated and chicken is cooked, about 15 minutes.
For Rice, Put water in a big pot with salt, white cumin, coriander seeds, garam masala powder and green chilli. Put cardamoms, cloves, black pepper, cloves, star anise and cinnamon in a herb infuser or tea strainer or tie in a small piece of white muslin cloth if you don't want too much masala to be seen in the rice or if you prefer, add all to the water as is.
I put water for boiling rice while I am browning onion for chicken and work both things side by side.
When water comes to a rapid boil, add soaked rice and boil till slightly undone (or follow package instructions), strain rice and remove the infused whole garam masala if it was in a strainer or muslin cloth.
Let the water drain well, about 2 minutes.
For layering, Place half of the boiled rice back in the pot in which they were boiled.
Spread chicken mixture evenly.
Spread curry leaves, mint leaves and sliced lemons.
Top with remaining rice and even them out with a spoon.
Sprinkle red/orange color (do not dilute in water) and drizzle oil.
Cover the pot and put on simmer for about 10 minutes.
Turn off the flame and remove the lid after 2-3 minutes.
Take rice out from one side and do not mix everything in the pot. Rice will mix on their own while serving.
Serve hot with salad and raita.
I love this spice mix but if you prefer homemade blend, it will be shared in coming Wednesday Wisdom.