Biriyani is considered by some to be a really difficult dish to make, while others think it’s really easy to prepare, perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. I personally feel though the process is kind of lengthy, it’s still pretty simple and easy to make. The main feature of a biriyani is that it’s a one-pot dish, which is perfect when you have unexpected guests coming over in an hours time for lunch. Serve the biriyani with a little bit of the gravy in which you cooked the meat, along with salad, pappad and pickle…and lunch is ready. So it’s much simpler than preparing a traditional Keralite lunch, that would require 2-3 curries, vegetable stir-fry’s, fish fry and with that again pappad and pickle too.
I made this chicken biriyani about a month back but just realised I hadn’t blogged it. The traditional calculation when making biriyani is 1:1:1 ratio….1 kilo rice for 1 kilo chicken cooked in 1 kilo onions. But when I started to make on my own, I realised that’s not an ideal ratio because when you cook that way, there’s not enough of meat for so much rice. I, therefore always reduce the amount of rice by half or double the amount of chicken.
The way I make biriyani, is actually a mix of what my mother and mother in law does. I just chose what I like from both their methods to suit my tastes better.. Like my mother soaks the rice and fries it in butter, while my mother in law doesn’t do that. She just cooks the rice directly. And my mother in law adds 15 green chillies and no chilli powder at all for the spice, while my mother adds more chilli powder. So here’s what you need to make delicious biriyani :
Ingredients for the rice
- Basmati Rice – 1/2 kilo (about 3 cups of rice soaked in water for 2 hours)
- Hot boiling Water – 6 cups (take double the amount of rice)
- Cardamom – 3
- Cloves – 4
- Cinnamon – 1″ stick
- Butter – 4-5 tablespoons
- Salt, to taste
- Lemon juice – of 1 lemon ( you could even use 2 tablespoons yoghurt)
Ingredients for the Chicken
- Chicken – 1 kilo
- Onions – 1 kilo, chopped (yes it would be just wonderful if you have a chopper!)
- Green chillies – 13-15 nos slit length wise
- Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 tablespoon (fresh, pls)
- Coriander leaves -1 cup, chopped
- Mint leaves – 1/4th cup, chopped
- Yoghurt – 1/2 cup
- Oil/Ghee – 1/3 cup (I use more oil because we don’t like too much ghee taste)
- Salt, to taste
Ingredients for garnishing
- Roasted Cashews and Roasted Raisins (I roast it in butter)
- Fried Onions – 1 onion really thinly sliced
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon diluted in 1/2 cup water, for color (or you could also use 1/2 teaspoon yellow food color mixed in 1 tablespoon water)
To prepare the rice
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed vessel and add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon to it and saute for a minute.
To this add the soaked rice and stir it well for about 5 minutes till the rice becomes crisp (don’t overstir or else the rice grains might break).
Now to the fried rice, add the boiling water, salt and let the whole thing come to a boil. Add a tablespoon lemon juice/yoghurt, as this will prevent the sticking of the rice grains. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes till the rice is cooked and there’s no water left (if this method is too difficult for you…no issues. Just cook rice how you always do or follow instructions on the package). It’s better if the rice is slightly undercooked, because you are going to put it in the oven at the end, so it will cook to perfection then. Keep aside.
To prepare the chicken masala
Heat oil in a deep bottomed saucepan and saute the chopped onions till it’s golden brown. Then add the ginger-garlic paste and the green chillies. Saute for another minute.
To this add the washed and cleaned chicken pieces and mix well to the mixture.
Now add the yoghurt, chopped coriander and mint leaves. Add salt and a little water.
Cover and cook till the chicken is done. You can either let the chicken soak up most of the gravy or else let a bit of gravy remain. I make the chicken more gravy-like and then separate the gravy from the chicken because my family needs curry to be served along with the biriyani.
Layering of the Biriyani
Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg. C
Take a large oven-safe dish (I use a Prestige casserole with a lid while my mother uses a big deep-bottomed aluminium vessel) and spread a little butter all over the insides.
The first layer will be the chicken pieces, along with really little gravy (don’t put too much gravy or else the rice will be soggy at the bottom). Cover the chicken with rice. And also put small cubes of butter in 2-3 places.
Again layer with chicken pieces and top it off with rice and butter cubes. Repeat layers till all the chicken is done and remember the rice should be topmost layer.
Sprinkle the turmeric water mix or the yellow food color on top. Then garnish with cashewnuts, raisins and fried onions.
Close the vessel with a lid and if you can seal the space between the lid and the pan with aluminium foil or dough, so that no steam escapes (dum cooking!) and put it in the oven and bake it for about 30 minutes.
Your chicken biriyani is ready. Serve it with the gravy you reserved from the chicken, raita, pappad and pickle.
- You can substitute chicken for mutton too. But the cooking time obviously will differ, so preferably use a pressure cooker then.
- The yellow food coloring or turmeric water mix is optional.
- And if you have no oven to bake the biriyani in, just put it on gas top and cook for about 5 minutes on low flame.