Chicken Dum Biryani

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This post is specially for my brother who is trying his hand in cooking for the last couple of months. And every time I call up I find him cooking chicken. Earlier I would have been impressed but as they say “I ain’t dumb no longer”. (Sorry Bro, its my blog and I get to say whatever I feel like.) Basically the point I am trying to make is that chicken is probably one of the easiest and a no-fail thing to cook. All the basic ingredients with some twist here and there and it always comes out good. So I was thinking maybe he was taking the easy way out. And then he surprises me by making some authentic Bengali fish preparations that even I have never tried. And that knocked me down… well at least the pics did! So I told him to try something from my blog … what kind of a food blogger would I be if my own brother does not refer to it once in a while. On his request of Chicken Dum Biryani recipe here comes today’s post.

I already have a post on chicken biryani (Pakki) (see here), but that was a long time back when I had first started cooking, clicking and blogging. Since then I feel I have come a long way and hence the need for a newer version of the recipe was in my mind for a long time. More so because now I know that there is no one right method of making biryani. Wikipedia shows an impressive list of the types biryani (see here), but that is a little too overwhelming for me. For now I will stick to the types I have tried.

Kachchi Biryani – Here the raw chicken, marinated with spices is cooked with parboiled rice on Dum (sealed air tight condition) over low heat. You could either do this on stove top or in the oven.

Pakki Biryani – Here the chicken and rice both are cooked to 90% and then layered and cooked on Dum (sealed air tight condition) over low heat. You could either do this on stove top or in the oven.

Irrespective of which method you decide to cook the ingredients remain the same. This recipe is the kachchi biryani style.

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Ingredients: Chicken to rice ratio is usually 2:1. Whole /freshly ground spices are preferrable, but most of the times I end up using the store bought Shan’s Biryani Masala and whole cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.

For Chicken:

  • Chicken 1 kg
  • Yogurt – 3/4 cup
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Green chillies, chopped – 7-8 or to taste
  • Onions, thinly sliced – 2 large onions
  • Whole peppercorns – 4-6
  • Shah Jeera/Caraway seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tsp or to taste (adjust with the proportion of green chillies added)
  • Whole garam masala / spices
    • Green cardamom – 3-4
    • Black cardamom – 1
    • Cinnamon sticks – 2 one inch sticks
    • Cloves – 6
    • Nutmeg (Jayfal) – 1
    • Mace (Javitri) – 2-3 (depending on the size)
  • Lemon juice – 1 lemon
  • Oil / Ghee / Clarified Butter – 3-4 tbsp + as required for frying onions
  • Coriander leaves, chopped (Save some for assembling) – 1/2 cup (I usually skip this)
  • Mint / Pudina leaves, chopped (Save some for assembling) – 1/2 cup (I usually skip this)
  • Salt – to taste

For Rice:

  • Long grain Basmati Rice – 500 gms
  • Bay leaf – 1
  • Whole Garam Masala:
    • Green cardamom – 2
    • Cinnamon sticks – 1 inch stick
    • Cloves – 2
  • Whole peppercorns – 2-3
  • Shah Jeera/Caraway seeds – 1 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil / Ghee / Clarified Butter – 1 tbsp
  • Water – as required

You can also use Mace and Nutmeg along with the whole spices, but I usually skip that.

For assembling the Biryani:

  • Onions, thinly sliced – 2 large
  • Potatoes – 3 medium sized
  • Oil / Ghee / Clarified Butter – as required for frying onions and for assembly.
  • Food color (optional) – I always skip this.
  • Saffron soaked milk (optional) – 1 tsp saffron added to 1/2 cup. I usually skip this.

For Dum: Chapati dough or foil paper

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Method:

Stove-top method:

  • Heat a pan with sufficient oil and fry the thinly sliced onions till they are nice brown in color. Take care not to burn them. You can fry all the onions (mentioned for chicken and assembling) together and then divide them into equal halves, one for marinating chicken and one for the assembly.
  • Cut the peeled potatoes in halves and sprinkle some salt and garam masala. Lightly fry them till it gets a light golden color. Drain and keep it aside. These will be cooked completely along with the biryani.
  • Grind the spices mentioned for chicken – Green & Black Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves, Mace, Nutmeg, Shah Jeera, Peppercorns.
  • Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients mentioned for chicken and keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or more.
  • Wash and soak the rice in sufficient water for atleast 30 minutes before cooking.
  • In a big pan add sufficient water (for cooking rice) and put on boil.
  • Take a clean cotton cloth and a put the spices mentioned for rice (Whole Garam Masala, pepper corns, Mace & Nutmeg,  if using ) and tie it to make a small bundle. I usually add the whole spices directly to water. However if done this way you will get the flavor of the spices and can remove it if you don’t like to bite into the whole spices.
  • Add the bay leaf and the spice bundle along with salt and oil into the boiling water.
  • Next add the drained rice to the water and give it a light mix. Let it come to a boil. Once the rice has come to one full boil it will be 50% cooked. Turn off the stove and drain the parboiled rice. At this stage you can remove the bundle of spices. Do not throw away the drained water from the cooked rice as we will be using a portion of it later.
  • Take a heavy bottom pan for assembling the biryani, put it on high heat and add 1-2 tbsp of oil or ghee to it.
  • Add the chicken with its marination to the pan, spread evenly and let it fry on high for a couple of minutes, then lower the flame to medium.
  • Add the fried potatoes.
  • Layer half of the parboiled rice on top of the chicken layer and spread evenly.
  • Sprinkle some of the fried onions saved for assembly (from step 1) and a few drops of ghee.
  • Add little (maybe 1/8th cup) of the drained water (from cooking rice) to it. If using saffron milk add it in place of the water.
  • Add the remaining rice and spread evenly.
  • Top it with the remaining fried onions, a couple of drops of ghee, chopped coriander and mint  leaves saved for garnishing.
  • Again add little (approx. 1/8th cup) of the drained water (from cooking rice) to it. If using saffron milk add it in place of the water.
  • Place the lid of the pan and seal it with the chapati dough. Alternatively. Seal the pan with a foil paper and then place the lid over it. The chapati dough works better.
  • Lower the flame to low and let it cook for 45 minutes approx. Then turn off the flame and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove the hardened dough with a knife and carefully open the lid.
  • Check if the rice is tender. Gently insert a spatula or a wooden flat ladle at the edge of the vessel and lift up the chicken from the bottom of the pan. Do it along the edges of the pan to lightly mix the biryani. Do not over mix the whole thing.
  • One way of checking the doneness of the biryani is by checking the potatoes. Usually everything will be well cooked by now. If for some reasons it is still not done, place a flat heavy bottomed non-stick pan on heat, once hot, lower the flame and place the biryani pan on top of it, cover it with the lid and let it cook for another couple of minutes.
  • Serve it with raita and salad.

Oven method:

To cook the biryani in oven, assemble the whole thing as described above in an oven proof pan. Cover it tightly with a foil. Cook it for 45 – 50 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F. Once done, mix gently.

Note: The process may appear to be a little overwhelming but as with all kinds of cooking, repeated practicing is the only way to go. The process was a little lengthy to write down and I was getting lost in between, so dear readers, I apologise for any vagueness or confusion. Do get back to me if you think I need to explain it better.

The pics were taken a while back and am using it for this post.

Veg Pulao / Fried Rice

For the last 2 days I hav not been blogging… as I decided not to blog on weekends. Now I have 3 recipes ready with the snaps to put down. I have to choose which one should come first and I decided to pen down the easiest of them first. Well that’s how the Veg Pulao recipe happens to be the first one. As I typed the title of my post I quickly google-d up the difference between a ‘fried rice’ and ‘pulao’ and here is what I found. The main difference between them is that ‘fried rice’ is made from pre-cooked rice while pulao is made instantly by the usual way of making rice. Again depending upon the ingredients used you can have different names to the pulao/fried rice.

So I decided to stop juggling between the two names and use both of them. Though I cooked rice instantly I will mention how to use the pre-cooked rice for this recipe in the notes section at the end of this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Vegetables (carrots and beans), finely chopped – 1/2 cup (use any desired vegetable)
  • Peas – 2 tbsp
  • Onions,thinly sliced –  1 medium
  • Ginger & Garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Whole Garam Masala –
    • Green cardamom – 3
    • Cloves – 2
    • Cinnamon one inch stick
  • Bayleaf – 1
  • Biryani masala – 1 tbsp optional
  • Broken Cashews – 1 tbsp
  • Raisins – 1 tbsp
  • Oil /ghee/butter –  2-3 tbsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 2 cups

Method:

  • Wash and soak rice in water for 15-20 mins and then drain.
  • In a pressure cooker add ghee / butter / oil and add bay leaves and the whole garam masala. Stir well.
  • Add the onions, fry till color changes and becomes translucent.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and mix well with the onions.
  • Add the finely chopped vegetables and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the washed and drained rice to it and mix well.
  • Add 2 cups of water, salt (as per taste) and Biryani masala (optional). Mix well.
  • Pressure cook till completely cooked (4-5 whistles or may vary).

A few notable points:

  • If using pre-cooked rice: Heat oil in a pan, fry the spices, onions and veggies and add the cooked rice to it. Mix well so that the spices get well blended with the rice and vegetables.
  • I used only vegetables, but one can use chicken, egg prawn, paneer and give a corresponding name to it.
  • I generally use a pressure cooker for all my rice recipes, however the traditional way of making rice can also be used.
  • Using ghee/butter surely adds richness, but I prefer to use plain oil unless for some special occasions.
  • If you want to cook the Bengali style of fried rice or pulao add sugar as per taste and do not add biryani masala.
  • Cashew and raisins are optional and I generally use them for the special occasions.
  • Another secret tip for enhancing the flavor is to use some (small amount) biryani masala if available. Trust me that renders an awesome aroma to the rice.

Lemon Rice

Summer is almost knocking at the doorstep… looking back at the last year reminds me of the terrible Kolkata heat.. huffing and puffing in the scorching heat and then back at home… the cool breeze from the fan, a quick aam-panna… mom-made lemon rice and curry.

A tangy South Indian dish – the Lemon rice – has sneaked into my household, specially during the summer. It is a pleasant variation from the plain rice, frequently prepared for long train journeys when you wish to carry food along and can be made from fresh cooked rice or leftover. A quick snap shot of what it entails.

Ingredients:

  • Rice (freshly cooked or leftover) – 1.5 cups
  • White Oil -2 tbsp
  • Curry leaves – 10-12
  • Peanuts – 1.5 tbsp
  • Bengal Gram/Chana Dal – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Split black gram skinless/Urad Dal – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Lime juice – 2 tbsp or to taste
  • Ginger (minced) – 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • Asafoetida – pinch (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4th tsp or a pinch (do not use in excess)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Sugar –  to taste
  • Whole dry red chillies or green chillies – 1-2
  • Grated coconut or cilantro – to garnish

Method:

  • Add lime juice and salt to the cooked rice and mix well.
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry the curry leaves, peanuts and the dal (if desired) separately and keep aside.
  • In the same oil (heated) add mustard seeds, let them pop and crackle, add the chillies (broken red chillies or slit green chillies), turmeric powder,  ginger (optional) and asafoetida (optional) and saute for a minute.
  • Add the rice (mixed with salt and lime juice) fried curry leaves, peanuts and dal.
  • Mix well but slowly so as not to mash the rice.
  • Cook on low flame till the rice is heated all the way through.
  • Garnish with grated coconut or cilantro.

Jeera Rice

When I started cooking I realised that Jeera or Cumin is a magic spice. It has a wonderful aroma and renders a marvelous flavor when cooked with veggies or rice. Jeera rice has been my favorite, simple yet tasty and easy to cook complement to any side dish, be it rajma, choley, veggies or non veg.

This dish is even more delicious when cooked with ghee, bay leaves and whole garam masala, but often to keep it healthy and stomach-friendly I end up using oil with little butter and omit garam masala. That way I can have it quite frequently without straining my digestive system too much! Also, I always use a pressure cooker to make any rice recipe for my convenience, however I have seen many people using saucepan. Anything that is convenient and comfortable can be used.

Ingredients:

  • Oil / ghee / butter – 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds / Jeera – 1-1.5 tsp
  • Basmati rice (Though this variety of rice adds on to the flavor you can use any other rice too) – 1 cup
  • Bay leaves – 1
  • Whole Garam Masala-
    • Black Cardamom – 1
    • Green cardamom – 2-3
    • Cloves – 2-3
    • Cinnamon (one inch stick) – 1
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water – 2 cups (Water is always added twice the amount of rice if cooked in pressure cooker)

Method:

  • Wash and soak rice in water for 15-20 mins and then drain.
  • In a pressure cooker add ghee / butter / oil and add bay leaves and the whole garam masala. Stir well.
  • Add the cumin seeds. As its sizzles and changes color add rice to it. Mix well for a minute or two so that oil is evenly coated on the grains.
  • Add water and salt and let it pressure cook. Serve hot.

Biryani

My mom does not love cooking but she cooks well and there are some special items that she cooks just awesome. Biryani is one of them. She makes it in her own way which is not too spicy or heavy for stomach. I initially thought it is a cumbersome process but well … its worth the effort. And definitely a treat to your taste buds.

So this one is an inheritance from my mom… Chicken biriyani – my mom’s way!

Ingredients:

  • Basmati Rice – 1 cup
  • Chicken pieces – 500 gms
  • Onions, sliced – 3-4 medium
  • Mustard Oil – 3 tbsp (For chicken preparation, though optional and you may also use white oil)
  • White Oil (For rice preparation) – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger Paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
  • Whole peppercorns – 4-6
  • Whole nutmeg (Jaifal) – 1
  • Mace (Javitri) – 2
  • Bay leaves – 2
  • Coriander powder – 1tsp
  • Red chilli powder – 1tsp or to taste
  • Whole garam masala / spices
    • Green cardamom – 3-4
    • Black cardamom – 3-4
    • Cinnamon sticks – 2 one inch sticks
    • Cloves – 6

For convenience you can also use readymade biriyani masala (available in Asian/Indian stores if staying abprad) instead of the above mentioned spices and it would work out almost fine. Recommended – Shan / MDH biriyani masala.

Method:

  • Heat mustard oil in wok.
  • Fry the onions till brown and then take it out from oil.
  • Grind the whole garam masala along with the fried onions to a paste.
  • To the oil left in wok add whole bay leaves and chicken pieces and fry them.
  • Add the half of the ground masala and onion paste, ginger garlic paste, coriander powder, red chilli powder and broken mace and nutmeg.
  • Cook on medium heat till the chicken softens and is almost done, in case it dries up sprinkle few drops of water.
  • Keep aside the chicken for later use.
  • In a pressure cooker add white oil (Do not use mustard oil for this).
  • When the oil is heated add the remaining ground masala and salt to taste.
  • Add rice and just the double amount of water.
  • Do not cook the rice completely, rather let it cook 3/4th the way.
  • In a flat bottomed vessel 9keeping it on low heat) add rice and chicken in layers. Put a part of the rice in a layer, then add the chicken pieces over it as the second layer, add rice to the 3rd layer and so on depending on the quantity.
  • Sprinkle kewra oil (for essence) and 2-3 drops of orange color. You can omit this step too.
  • Let it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes so that the rice gets cooked completely in the steam.
  • Check on the doneness of the rice. Do not mix this with a ladle or spoon, rather cover the vessel and shake it hard. This way the rice and chicken gets mixed without messing it up.
  • Serve it hot.

Note –

  • Do not use tomatoes or turmeric powder for this recipe.
  • You can also use yogurt /curd to marinate the chicken before cooking.
  • You can use mutton instead of chicken to prepare mutton biryani.