The components required to construct the Biryani –
1. Garam Masala
4. Chicken (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 2 breast pieces cut in half)
Garam Masala Powder
1 tbs cumin seeds (Shah Jeera)
1 tbs coriander seeds
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs white pepper
2 or 3 black cardamom
7 or 8 green cardamom
1 whole nutmeg
2 whole mace (javetri flower)
5 or 6 whole cloves
1 inch cinnamon stick
Dry roast on a tawa/pan and grind – sieve through a muslin cloth. The above spices will yield probably enough for 2-3 times you make the Biryani.
Peel 4 medium sized potatoes, cut in half and fry them over a high flame in some oil till the outside is golden and seared… Doesn’t need to be cooked through at this point.
2 cups of fine quality Basmati Rice (I used India Gate aged rice which they claim is less sticky – I was very happy with the outcome but any old long grained basmati should work just as fine)
Wash the rice and soak in water for around 30 minutes
Heat about 6-7 cups of water with plenty of salt till it comes to a rolling boil. Add a tsp of ghee, a few drops of lemon juice, couple of green cardamoms, peppercorns and cloves – continue to boil for 4-5 minutes.
Add the soaked rice and cook till almost done. Drain off the excess water (reserve a cup of liquid) and cool the rice. Sprinkle a generous pinch of the garam masala powder and gently mix into the rice with a few drops of kewra water.
This drainage method and addition of ghee ensures that the rice grains stay separate in addition to giving the rice nice and fragrant.
Soak a generous of saffron strands in half a cup of milk and set aside
1 onion to be sliced really fine and fry to a golden brown birista
2 onions sliced roughly and fried to a golden pink
Trim off excess fat and make deep gashes into the chicken pieces, rub in half a tsp of the garam masala powder with 3-4 tbsp dahi, salt to taste, marinate and set aside for 30-40 minutes.
In a non stick pan, heat a tsp oil, add chicken pieces and sear off on a high flame till brown.
Add another tsp of oil, add the roughly sliced pink onions, 3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste and a cup of dahi, add 2 tsp of red chilli powder and a tsp of the ground garam masala powder. Add a handful each of chopped mint and coriander leaves. Add salt to taste
Cook these for a few minutes and strain this – grind the residue in a blender till smooth.
Mix this paste with the browned chicken pieces.
Assembling the Biryani
Coat a thick bottomed pan with a tsp of ghee till the vessel is coated
Arrange the potatoes at the bottom
Add a layer of the chicken pieces and the masala paste
Arrange one thirds of the rice in a layer over the chicken
Add one third of the rice colored with the soaked saffron
Finally, add the last one third of the rice mixed with the birista
Add half a cup of the reserved rice cooking liquid and sprinkle a tsp of kewra water over the top
Cover the vessel with a tight lid sealing the edges with atta dough
Cook over a low flame for 1 hour and rest for 30 minutes thereafter
Served these with a boondi raita and tomato-onion kachumber… Cholesterol laden bliss!