Zaaykedaar Dum Biryani or Chicken Rice is not easy, but it is finger licking delectable.Biryani, derived from the Farsi word ‘Birian’. Biryani originated somewhere in Persia or the Far East and entered India through Afghanistan to North India. It is said that he Nomads would bury an earthen pot full of meat, rice and spices in a pit, eventually the pot was dug up and there was the Biryani ready and delicious!
Biryani was famous in Delhi, Lucknow and gradually the Nizams of Arcot and Hyderabad gave it a cult status. Biryani should be named the eighth wonder of the world coz it is so popular and relished by one and all. It is a meal in itself and needs no entrees or appetizers. In Andhra, Biryani is eaten in abundance and cooked in most houses on a Sunday or eaten at a restaurant. There are many who do not share their Biryani recipes, as they are closely guarded family heirlooms passed on from one generation to another.This recipe I learnt from an old Muslim cook in my mom’s house and she was very reluctant to share the recipe with me. And I am sure she has not revealed all the ingredients. But I believe that food is the one common thing binding all humans and sharing recipes leads to sharing tastes.
Even in my home, Biryani is cooked as a complete meal along with onion raita. I loved cooking it and watch the kids together tucking into it gleefully and polishing off their plates till the last grain. I learnt the basics of slow cooking from my mom, fast cooking from my sister-in-law and the rest was trial and error and experimenting by myself. Every time I cooked biryani, I would invite my nephews as they loved the treat and it was a festive atmosphere having all of them enjoying the meal together.
Zaaykadaar biryani has a potpourri of subtle flavours; of dried spices, ginger and garlic, mint and coriander, green chillies toned down with fresh coconut milk and a generous ladle of pure ghee poured over the aromatic long-grained basmati rice. All these ingredients blend together to create a dish that tickles the palate of any food lover.Biryanii is made with Basmati rice which is long grained and has a heady aroma.
Cooking Biryani is like an art. It may look easy, but you need a lot of patience and your full attention. It is a royal dish fit for kings and it needs special culinary skills. The ingredients need to be just right. Any authentic Biryani is made on dum; layered chicken and rice, sealed in a handi (pot) and cooked over slow fire( in the past over coals)
There is a step by step pictorial I am sharing below and if you follow that you cannot go wrong with this recipe.
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 onions chopped long
1 small bunch of Mint, Coriander and 4 green chillies made into a coarse paste
2 cups coconut milk
4/5 green chillies
2 tomatoes chopped
1 tbsp red chili powder
Four green cardamoms
2 black cardamoms
1 inch Cinnamon stick
A few peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 tbsps ghee or clarified butter
Fried cashew nuts to garnish
1 sprig Coriander leaves to garnish
4 cups Basmati rice soaked for 15 mins
Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a pan, add the four green cardamoms and 2 large, few cloves, Cinnamon stick, Anise-flower, 2 bay leaves. Add the ginger-garlic paste, sauté, and then add the sliced onions and sauté till pink. Add the chicken and cook until slightly tender. See that you do not overcook the chicken as it will cook with the rice and it may become overcooked by then. Now add the slit green chillies, diced tomato, salt, red chilli powder and the coriander-mint paste. Sauté and then add the soaked basmati rice coconut milk and enough water. Cook in the pan or transfer to a rice cooker which is easier and better as it is slow cooking like dum. ( You can’t go wrong cooking in the rice cooker as it comes down to keep warm mode once the water dries up and you can keep on watching TV without worrying that it would burn)Add a little less water as the rice was pre-soaked and in the Biryani every grain in the rice remain separate. When the rice is almost cooked drizzle the ghee (I poured homemade ghee) over the biryani. Once you open the lid the aroma will waft through the house and may even tickle your neighbors nose!
Garnish with coriander, fried egg and cashews and serve piping hot with onion raita.
Layer a handi with the rice and chicken and seal it with dough and cook it on slow fire to give dum.All the aromas will permeate nicely into the rice and meat, resulting in a lip-smacking wholesome meal.
For the raita (yoghurt &onion)-Whisk a cup of yoghurt; add a pinch of salt and a tsp sugar. Chop a small onion finely. Add salt to it and keep aside for 10 minutes then wash and squeeze the water out from the onion, so that you remove the pungency from it and add to the yoghurt. Garnish with freshly ground cumin powder, black salt, pepper, chilli powder, grated carrot and coriander leaves.
Tip: For the coconut milk- grate a fresh coconut and blend it in the mixer with a little water. Add 2 cups warm or normal water and strain it. You have fresh coconut milk ready to use.
The Spices you need….Cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, Anise flower, cardamoms and pepper corns.
Heat the ghee or butter and add the spices.
Add the ginger-garlic paste and saute.
Add the chopped onions and saute till golden brown.
Add the chicken and saute.
Once the chicken is a bit tender, add the chopped tomatoes and the slit green chillies.
Add the Corian-mint-green chilli paste.
Keep the coconut milk ready as you have to cook the rice and chicken in it.
Add the coconut water and the rice to the chicken and transfer to the slow cooker.
Let the rice cook and blend with all the other ingredients.
Once the rice is cooked, drizzle the ghee over the Biryani.Garnish and serve hot.