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The Great Indian Chicken Biryani: From The Kitchens of India

Biryani holds a special place in the hearts of many because it’s more than just a dish; it’s a culinary masterpiece steeped in history, culture and tradition. It helps people discover the true potential of their tummy… is what i remember reading sometime ago, and so true it is.

Biryani, in itself, is a complete delicacy. I love biryani simply because it is an awesome mix of the flavours of Basmati rice with selected spices and the meat, all cooked on DUM. ((which, in Urdu, is slow cooking in a sealed pot so that the flavors are absorbed by the rice).¬† The robust flavours of a variety of spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger, garlic, and green & black cardamom bring about a warmth and heat in the entire biryani.¬† The protein used, especially chicken, brings in the core richness.¬† And the saffron soaked in milk when added to the biryani, gives it a colour, aroma and a royal taste to the eater. All of this simply takes the biryani¬† to a completely new level…. heavenly level, if i may say so.¬†

To say the least, biryani is a very versatile dish and is made in different ways in different cities of our country. We have the Hyderabadi biryani, Kolkata biryani, Lucknowi biryani, Dindigul biryani, Ambur biryani, Bhatkali biryani, Sindhi biryani, Malabar biryani, etc… the list can just go on and on.

I guess the reasons why biryani is so popular in India are:
1. It is super high on flavour
2. It is a complete meal in itself
3. Appeals to every age and every palate

What an amazing combination of the above.

Now for a simple recipe, we need:

INGREDIENTS:

Chicken 500 gms

Basmati rice 200 gms

Onions large 4, thinly sliced

A few Bay leaves, star anis, cinnamon, cloves, green and black cardamom, sheh jeera.

Masala -1 tsp each of red chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, cumin powder, garam masala, curds (half cup), salt and 2 tbspns of ginger and garlic paste.

A few strands of saffron soaked in warm milk to bring out the flavour and colour. Rose water.

A small bunch of coriander leaves and mint leaves, finely chopped.

THE METHOD:

Soak rice for 30 mins.
Deep Fry 4 onions (thinly chopped) and set aside. Also keep this oil for spreading it on the rice while layering the biryani.
Marinate 500 gms chicken (pieces) with turmeric powder and salt for half an hour and fry.  Set it aside.
In the same oil,  add garlic & ginger paste and saute for few seconds. Add the fried chicken and add 1 tsp each of red chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, curds (half cup) and salt.  Cook till chicken is 80% soft. Check the gravy consistency for biryani. It should be medium thick.   Add a little water if it is very thick.  Remove the  chicken from the heat.    Sprinkle  garam  masala, some fried onions, finely chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves in the chicken.

Boil water for rice with bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, sheh jeera, salt and add  the soaked rice and cook upto 80 %
Filter the rice and set aside after dividing it into 2 halves (for 2 layers).

Now comes the interesting part, which is the layering of the biryani…

Spread the chicken along with the gravy in the bottom of the biryani vessel.
Then spread the 1st layer of rice over the chicken gravy covering the chicken fully.

Sprinkle fried onions, mint leaves, coriander leaves, garam masala and 2 tablespoons of oil (the same oil in which the chicken pieces were fried).  I would like to add here, that if one wishes to, boiled potatoes and boiled eggs can also be placed in the biryani at this stage.

Put the remaining rice as 2nd layer and sprinkle fried  oonions, garam masala, 2 tablespoons of ghee, saffron milk and rose water.

Seal with silver foil (air tight) and bake at 200 deg C for 45 mins to 1 hr.

Serve this hot biryani with raita, pickle and pappad.  Nothing more is needed on the table.

I am a happy and proud biryani person.

Sudha Mukhopadhyay

Sudha Mukhopadhyay, having spent two decades abroad (Japan, Qatar, Dubai, and Saudi), has now returned to Chennai. Previously employed in the Indian General Insurance industry, she ventured beyond borders. Alongside her passion for writing short stories and poems, she finds solace in painting on canvases, using acrylic, oil, and watercolors, as well as sketching. She perceives art as a mirror of existence.

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