An Urban Legend. A rite of passage. The stuff that festivals were made of, infact we would be all sullen faced if ammi did not make the famed rice concoction on Eid. Yes, Biryani! That elusive fragrant monster that is talked about at almost any gathering that ive been to which has die hard non vegetarian fans. I have also for years relished various versions of this amazing dish with or without accompaniements like a raita or lal mirch ki chutney and even the somewhat strange combination of the Biryani with a gravy. And everytime asked aloud ‘who made this?’ not to kiss their hand but to ask them to part with their recipe. And that is the thing with Biryani, everyone has a different way of cooking it. And every new person who borrows a recipe will over time add a personal touch to it.
Because of this enormous history and personal baggage that the Biryani carries, it almost seems like the noch less monster who cannot be captured. So most of us eat this fable like dish at parties and restaurants and always make a note in our new year resolutions, to try it this year. And then the year goes and well, we still have some half hearted attempts at a Biryani, I know I did and then forced the family to eat it and appreciate it.
But to be very honest, it is just a slightly time consuming dish. So whenever I have attempted to make it, I have always done it on a relatively free day and also made enough to not regret spending that much time in the kitchen. Otherwise trust me on this, it is as easy as making any non vegetarian dish. And the best part about it, no matter which party you take it to, it gets finished always
But that’s not to say that I haven’t made mistakes, I have and just like the scores before me I have also after the numerous mistakes decided on what suits me and what doesn’t and come up with a formula that guarantees a winner. And since considering the direction this is taking, I am about to demystify the King of good times, the Biryani for the greater good of the society, but before you all start taking notes and dream up a house filled with the smell of this delicacy, I must walk you through Not 1 , not 2 but 5 things that nobody tells you when you make biryani!! Or maybe they do and I never heard them so… Bear with me brave souls because the reward will indeed be good.
#1 – don’t try the shortcut and use a pressure cooker – purely because it doesn’t ‘look’ as good as when made on slow open flame
#2 – use a long grain rice – I once used regular rice and though it doesnt take away from the taste but again, when you invest about 2.5 hours in something, you want it to look good too.
#3 – be patient, put on music, don’t stress – don’t yell scream at others and basically make a nuisance of yourself because you would want to throw the bartan closest to you on your better half or mother or anyone in hitting range.
#4 – always have a back up in the initial stages – I mean the name and the number of the nearest pizza joint.
#5 – be instinctive – trust yourself and know that this is one of the six impossible things before breakfast and you will do well.
And following this 5 point star like the 3 kings of orient, you will be able to reach the manger and visit baby jesus. Or attain nirvana in the biryani you cook.
P.S. a lot of people will tell me that this is infact Pulao and not Biryani but I think they look and taste the same. In my fast paced life, this is as close to it as I want to get.
The recipe has been adapted from the true blue form of Biryani that one of the dearest mother’s I know of one of my favorite people, Cooks. Thanks @nazianama J
What You Need:
Everything is scaleable
500 gm chicken or more if it is with bones
2 large onions finely sliced
50 gm ginger garlic paste
100 gm curd
2.5 katori rice
3 tablespoons oil
2-3 tablespoons Butter
Red chilli powder (to taste)Garam masala (to taste)
Whole spices (4 green cardamoms, 1 black cardamom, 2-3 cloves, 3-4 peppercorn, 2 bayleaves, 2 big pieces of cinnamon)
Less than 1/4 teaspoon Jaiphal (nutmeg) powder
1 sliced onion fried to a caramel color and 2 boiled eggs diced for garnishing
Wash the chicken. Wash rice and soak in water. Keep aside. Now in an open Pateela (big enough for whatever amount of chicken plus rice you want to cook) Heat all the oil and butter, put the onion in and cook till a darkish brown. This will take about 10-15 minutes. The butter and oil mixture does tend to add a nicer flavor than using just oil. Drain them out and let them cool on a plate. Make a paste of the fried onions once cool with the least amount of water. Take all the whole spices and put them in the remaining heated oil and cook till the cardamom swells up and you can smell the aroma. Your oil will also have a nice golden color by now.
Put the chicken pieces in and fry till the water dries from the pieces. The water will mix with the oil to give you a brothy liquid) Drain the chicken pieces and keep aside. Put the ginger garlic paste in the broth, oil mix and cook. Put the onion paste in and let cook till the oil separates. You will be able to smell the masala in your entire house by this time. Put the garam masala and chilli powder in and saute for a few seconds. Put the chicken in. Pour in the beaten curd and salt. put the jaiphal in.
Cook the chicken in the broth and curd, because chicken cooked this way, in its own juices tastes the best. Should take about 15-20 minutes on an open flame. Cover the utensil and let cook to prevent masala sputters on yourself or the kitchen counter.
Once the chicken is done, (the meat will easily come of the bones when prodded or in case of boneless, it will break easily). Now put the soaked rice. 2.5 katori rice so a little less than 5 katori water. The ratio is always 1:2. Let the rice cook for about 15 minutes. Check for doneness. Cover and let it rest till you want to serve it.
Garnish with the boiled egg and fried onions. You could even fry a few mixed nuts and sprinkle on top.
Get the first plate yourself. No guarantees for second helpings at all.