Thursday, May 10, 2018

The World's Best Chicken Biryani

Most of us non vegetarian urban Indians will say that Biryani is our favourite dish. Each one has his own favorite version, and most of us are happy being served spiced meat with rice in any form.


Source - Arpan Anand at behance.net

The eternal debate around whether Hyderabadi or Lucknowi or Calcutta Biryani is the best is going to go on till humans exist on this planet, and continue calling this dish biryani. What truly matters is everyone loves spicy meat served with rice.

Source - https://www.fortunefoods.com

What sets Biryani apart from rest of the meat and rice dishes is that a truly well made Biryani is a work of art and the one who can cook it to such a level is definitely a great Chef.

I am penning down this note because finally after a year long tryst with trying to cook various biryanis and learning my lessons, I finally was able to dish out what can be called as my best Biryani attempt till date. You can look below for yourself.


What do you think?

Since you can't actually taste this amazing biryani which well, doesn't exist anymore, I will share the recipe with all the points which will help you make it for yourself.

This biryani is an amalgamation of various biryanis that i love, with certain techniques incorporated from various cuisines i have experimented with, till date. You will learn about those techniques as well.

Assumption - You are fairly acquainted with the art of cooking and have attempted biryani at least once. The recipe is not meant for beginners as the basics will be assumed from my end and I won't explain those. You can very well read on, but only if you are thorough with your fundamentals, will you be able to conclude this on a delicious note...;)

Indicated quantities will yield a portion which Serves - 3

Step 1 -  Marination

A good biryani should have tender and well spiced pieces of chicken, which should also have a good coating of spice.

To achieve this, take around 250 gms of cubed boneless chicken and marinate it with

  1. 0.5 teaspoon of turmeric
  2. 1 teaspoon of red chilli powder
  3. 1 teaspoon of dhania powder
  4. 1 teaspoon of garam masala powder
  5. 1 tablespoon freshly prepared ginger garlic paste (don't use the packed versions, they are horrible)
  6. 2 tablespoon white vinegar
  7. Salt to taste

This needs to marinate for a minimum of 8 hours in the refrigerator. I had marinated the chicken in the morning and prepared the biryani in the evening.

After 8 hours.....................

Step 2 - Preparations

1. Prepare rice - Take 2.5 cups of good quality Basmati rice (I prefer Dawat brand. Not really happy with the others.) Wash it properly with water 3 times till clear water runs. Keep it soaked in water for 30 minutes.

2. Prepare ginger garlic paste from 8-10 cloves of medium sized garlic and an inch piece of ginger.

3. Prepare a puree of two medium sized tomatoes with 1 green chilly in a mixie.

4. Prepare onions for Brista - Chop 3-4 medium sized onions lengthwise for preparing Brista or browned onions.


Brista. Source - http://pakrice.pk
The browned onion is actually one of the key ingredients of Biryani which gets overlooked many times. This separates a mediocre biryani from the best. I have seen average biryani being transformed with addition of this amazing ingredient. Preparation requires a bit of time, but it is a very necessary investment. Many people will want to skip it, and if you too are one of them, forget about making lip smacking biryani.



4. Prepare the spices + curd mix - Take a 2 tablespoons of curd and whisk it so that it forms into a smooth paste. Now add the standard desi spices - 0.5 tsp turmeric, red chilli powder, dhania powder and garam masala powder as per your taste and mix them well with the curd.

5. Prepare the chopped greens - Chop coriander and mint leaves finely, as per preference. 2 cups of chopped greens is good to go.

Step 3 - Cooking

Till now, 30 minutes must have passed and the rice would have properly absorbed water.

1. Cooking Rice - Place a cooking pot with more than a litre of water. Add some turmeric and some garam masala powder and a tablespoon of salt. Keep on the stove to bring this to a boil. Also add some whole garam masala - pepper, shahi jeera, cloves etc. as per availability (I also added Marathi Moggu which i had purchased during my Coorg trip)

When this starts boiling, add the rice and cook it till it is 75 percent done. Once done, drain out all the water and keep this aside.

Notes 

  • Shahi Jeera and cloves in the cooked rice give it a very Hyderabadi Biryani signature.
  • Cooking the rice till 75% since we will be assembling it with the meat and dum cooking it to finish

2. Frying the onions - In the vessel you will use to prepare biryani, take around 6 tablespoons of oil. Place on the stove and once heated up, add the chopped onions along with 1 tsp salt. Salt helps the onions to release moisture quickly and get browned. Saute the onions occasionally till you see that they start browning, once properly done, take them out, ensuring that all the excess oil is squeezed out in the pan, with the help of the ladle.

Tip - When the onions are just about to be done, I add two sprigs of curry leaves as I really love the taste. Gives it the Bhatkali flavour to it.

3. Pre-frying the chicken - The oil will now have a lot of savoury, caramelized taste of the onions. We will now infuse these flavours in the chicken by frying the marinated chicken pieces.

Before that, break an egg in the chicken and add 2 tablespoons of maida/cornflour into it and mix well.

When the oil heats up, fry these chicken pieces in batches for not more than 5 mins per batch. Take care that the chicken in cooked from all ends.

Notes 


4. Preparing biryani gravy - In the remaining oil, add whole garam masala of your choice and ginger garlic paste, saute well, and add the tomato-chilli puree. You may add oil to this as per your wish, if you see there is too little oil. Cook this till the oil separates. Now, add the spices + curd mix and saute well till oil starts separating. Add 1/3rd of the fried onions to this stir well and add 2 cups of water to the mix.

The gravy items are almost cooked at this point. Once the mixture comes to a boil, add 1.5 cup chopped coriander+mint leaves and the fried chicken, and mix well.

Critical - Check and adjust salt and any other spices you feel are required at this point. Remember that the rice is already seasoned while boiling, so don't overdo the salt.

5. Assembling - The assembling method I have used is derived from Maqloubeh, which can also be called as ulta biryani.

Maqloubeh. Source - http://tasteofpalestine.org

Instead of multiple layers of rice and meat, there is a layer of meat at the bottom of the pan, and rice on top of it, while dum cooking. Only while serving it, the vessel is inverted and the chicken comes on top.

The chicken and gravy should not be too thin and not too dry, as we will be doing dum cooking for 15 mins next. Note that rice is only 75% done, and the dum process will finish the rice, along with adding the chicken aroma in it. 

This is exactly the point of cooking biryani on dum. As a bonus, the chicken retains its tenderness as well.

Once the chicken mixture is bubbling, lower the flame and add half the rice. Now spread out the remaining brista over this layer and add the remaining rice on top of it. Flatten it out. Using the back side of the ladle, push it through the layers at two places in the assembled biryani, so that the steam from the chicken mixture comes to the top and cooks the rice through.

Such a vessel is best suited for ulta biryani.
Source - https://mycookalicious.files.wordpress.com
Cover the vessel and cook on dum, by placing a weight on top of the lid. Place this on the smallest burner on your stove and keep the flame minimum/sim.



My idea of dum cooking - Slowly cooked with an attempt to seal as much flavour as possible. You don't really need to make the dough lining to seal your vessel, but if you can, nothing better than that. I prefer keeping a heavy mortar on top of the vessel lid, to prevent the steam from escaping, so that items get dum cooked properly.


Step 4 Serving

After 15 minutes, close the flame and open the lid to allow excess steam to escape. Note that the rice is properly cooked now. Take a tablespoon of pure ghee and dot on top of the rice. Close this and keep as it is for 5 minutes to allow the ghee flavour to infuse in the rice.

Take a huge plate, Keep on top of the vessel and invert. Lift the vessel and enjoy the delicious smell and sight of your labour of love.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, fried cashews and kishmish and cut boiled eggs, if desired.



All the best...:)

4 comments:

Rita Kakodkar said...

Wow!!!Detailed recipe....very well explained.Will definitely try it out.Did not know you were such a good cook!

shubham said...

Excellent. Really useful for biryani lovers

shantanu said...

Awesome.. will surely try it out!

Ranjan Vishwakarma said...

Awesome detailed recipe . will try