Sunday, 2 March 2014

Authentic Chicken Dum Biryani

My friend who was here last evening for a dinner get together shared with me what one of her Muslim friend's Mom had told her once and I quote, "The one who can cook the perfect Biryani, can cook almost anything in this world!" With these words, she and her family showered me with loads of appreciation for the most wonderful biryani they have had in recent times. I could not believe, in fact, that I had actually cooked that delicious Biryani. Every grain, every piece of meat, every flavor and all the spices were so well balanced and complimented each other so well that we just could not stop eating. The best part was that there was not a single grain sticking to the bottom of the vessel (I did not even use a non-stick one) even after putting the biryani on "dum" for almost 2 hours. While I did struggle a lot in the past with this dish, I never gave up and finally after so many failed attempts, I have a recipe for the most loved dish of my husband! So here's presenting the newest feather (read dish) in my kitchen experiments, the perfect Chicken Dum Biryani.

For the Biryani Masala 
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
2-3 pieces of green cardamom
4-5 cloves 
2 small sticks cinnamon
1/2 piece nutmeg (javitri)
2 pieces mace
5-6 dry red chillies (as per taste)

Other Ingredients
4 cups basmati rice, washed and dried in a colander
1 kg chicken, washed and cut
1 cup yogurt, whipped
1 tbsp ginger, grated
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 sprig mint leaves, finely chopped
1 sprig coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 each of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and star anise
5 medium onions, finely sliced and deep fried until crisp and golden brown (drain on paper towels to remove excess oil)
2-3 tbsp ghee (this is to be used while layering the rice and chicken; use as per requirement)
2 medium potatoes, halved and fried till golden brown
1 big potato, thinly sliced
A pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp cold milk (optional)
1+1 tbsp salt
Aata dough for lining the lid of the vessel

Marinate the chicken pieces with 1 tbsp salt and keep aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, in a pan, dry roast all the ingredients given under Biryani masala and let it cool. Then grind to a fine powder and keep aside.
Wash the marinated chicken pieces with water and drain any excess liquid. Now add the yogurt, biryani masala, ginger, garlic, 1 tbsp salt, and half of the fried onions. Mix everything well and cover with a cling wrap. This has to be marinated for a minimum of 2 hours. For best results, marinate overnight and keep it in the refrigerator. I planned the Biryani a little late and could marinate for just 2 hours. It came out perfectly well and the chicken did absorb all the spices. However, I strongly recommend overnight marination.
While the chicken marinates, prepare the rice. The rice should be just 80% done. While making the rice, add the cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise for extra flavor. Once the rice is done, drain the excess liquid completely and spread out the rice on a flat surface or plate.
Now its time to prepare the assembling. Take the vessel where you will be putting the biryani on dum. Grease the base and the sides of the vessel with a little ghee on your palm. Now line the botttom of the vessel with the sliced potatoes evenly ensuring minimum gaps. If your vessel is too big, you can use extra potato pieces. Use as per requirement. This is a crucial step as this will ensure that the biryani does not stick to the bottom.
Now, put the first layer of rice followed by a half of the marinated chicken. Sprinkle some chopped coriander and mint leaves followed by half of the remaining fried onions and about 1 tbsp of ghee. Repeat with another layer of rice, chicken, coriander, mint, remaining fried onions, and ghee. Now put in the last layer of rice and sprinkle the kesar/saffron milk on top. Pour in some ghee and tightly seal the vessel with the atta dough that you had prepared and close the lid. Ensure that there are no gaps in the lid through which the steam can escape. Keep the vessel on a tawa or iron girdle and keep the flame at the minimum. Cook the biryani on dum for about 1- 1.5 hours. You will know that the biryani and most importantly, the meat is cooked when you start getting a lovely aroma from the mini gaps of the lid. Continue cooking on the tawa with the flame off until the tawa is warm enough to touch. Serve hot with raita and enjoy this delicious treat with your friends and family.


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