November 11, 2008

Chicken Biriyani

I have always been fond of biriyanis. It truly is a treat for all senses. The wonderful aroma, color and the taste of the biriyanis would beat any other rice dish, hands down! It also has cherished memories associated with it. It reminds me of my friends whom I am proud to have as friends even after these 5 years! Hmmm!! those really were the good times! I also prefer biriyanis for entertaining because if you get it right, you dont need many other sides to complete the meal. I have already posted another version of chicken biriyani (Hyderabadi dum biriyani) in which the uncooked meat is layered with rice in a pot sealed with dough and cooked over the flame until done. This technique is called a kacchi biriyani in which the meat is cooked after layering with rice. The other one is the pakki biriyani in which the meat and rice are pre-cooked before layering and allowing the flavors to mingle.

This recipe for Chicken Biriyani is one that JM's mother made when she was visiting. It is a very interesting recipe which makes use of both cooking and baking the rice - chicken mix. Addition of ground cashews and khuskhus gives richness and body to the chicken gravy. The other techniques are the ones regularly followed in biriyani recipes. Dont be alarmed by the long list of ingredients, most of them (if not all) would definitely be available in an Indian pantry. I have tried to break up the process into easy steps and I hope it helps anyone who wants to try this wonderful and flavorful dish.

For the rice:

Basmati rice - 1 lb 4 oz
Cardamom - 2
Cinnamon - 1" piece
Cloves - 3
Lime juice - as needed

Rinse the rice with water until the water runs clear.Cook the rice in a heavy pot with salt, cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves and lime juice or oil, to prevent the rice from sticking. Drain when the rice is just done (the grains should be cooked but separate and not mushy). Keep aside to cool.

Chicken marinade:

Chicken - 1 1/2 lb
Plain yoghurt - 3/4 cup
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt - as needed

Cut the chicken into large chunks and marinate with youghurt, turmeric powder and salt for an hour.

To grind:

Cashewnuts - 8-12
Khuskhus - 3/4 tsp

Soak the cashewnuts and khuskhus together and grind to a fine paste. Keep aside. Alternatively, I used dry cashews and khuskhus and powdered them in a spice grinder.

For garnish:

Cashewnuts - a handful
Raisins - a handful
Onion - 1, sliced thin

Fry the cashewnuts until golden brown. Fry the raisins until they puff up. Keep them aside. Fry the sliced onions until crisp and brown. Drain on paper towels and keep aside.

For the chicken gravy:

Cardamom - 2
Cinnamon - 1" piece
Cloves - 5
Star anise - 1, broken
Fennel - 1/2 tsp
Onion - 3 1/2, sliced thin
Green chilli - 2, split lengthwise
Curry leaves - a handful (if using)
Ginger - 1" sliced
Garlic - 3 pods, sliced
Red chilly powder - 1 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Tomato - 2 small, chopped
Cilantro - 1/2 cup
Mint leaves - 1/2 cup
Ghee/Butter - 1 tsp, melted

Heat oil in a heavy pan.

Toss in cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and fennel and saute.

Add the sliced onions, green chillies, curry leaves (if using), ginger and garlic.

Saute until the onions are cooked and tender.

Measure the red chilly powder, turmeric powder and pepper powder and add to the onion mixture.

Add the marinated chicken to this mixture and toss to coat.

Cover and cook the chicken until half done.

Add the chopped tomatoes, cilantro and mint leaves to the chicken and cook until well done.

Now add the ground cashewnut-khuskhus mixture and mix well.

Allow to bring to a boil.

Remove from heat when the chicken is cooked all the way through with a bit of gravy.

Final assembly:

Preheat the oven to 300F.

Grease an oven-safe baking pan.

Layer the pan with chicken and gravy.

Line with a layer of rice.

Repeat the layering and finish off with a layer of rice.

Drizzle a bit of melted ghee or butter on the top.

Cover with aluminium foil and bake in an oven until the gravy is absorbed into the rice.

Open the foil when ready to serve.

Garnish with nuts, raisins and fried onions.

Enjoy hot with pickles, raita and pappad.


I unfortunately dont remember the exact temperature at which I baked the rice, but I believe it was 300F for 20 minutes. Since the rice and chicken are cooked before layering and baking, I assure you that it wont be undercooked. the purpose of the baking is to allow the gravy to eveporate and flavor the rice.

I am sending this to the "Rice Mela" hosted by Srivalli of Cooking 4 all seasons. While I am at it, I am also sending a few of my previous rice posts to the mela.

Pineapple Fried Rice:

Coconut Rice:

Turkish tomato pilaf:

Lemon rice:

Click here for more of my rice dishes.


Sukanya Ramkumar said...

Hi JZ...
Chicken biriyani is my fav too. Urs looks awesome. Yummy pictures. Looks great.

Will try ur version of biriyani next time for sure. So tempting. YUM!

Suma Rajesh said...

on my god..wht lovly presentation jz?...its just yummy pic...

Yasmeen said...

Delicious Array of rice recipes,Chicken biryani is truly my favorite:)

ranji said...

waaaaaaaaaaah!!!thats a gorgeous presentation jeana....i love chicken biriyanis too..always a hit during parties..less work too...yummmmmmm..i can imagine the aroma at home... :)

Sujatha said...

Wow, I've never seen briyani presented this well before! Lovely decoration, JZ!

Love your version of briyani of cooking rice and meat separately and then baking.. Great idea.. Will try your way next time..

Sonu said...

Hi JZ,
Delicious entry...but can u suggest any alternatives to we some ppl are vegetarian. Rest recipe and photographs are nice. If you can suggest any alternatives...I'll definitely try this dish.

Vandana Rajesh said...

yummy jz...this biriyani look simply out of this world. Biriyanli is my favorite and made it for lunch today, however urs looks like nice rich tasty recipe. Will try it next time. Gr8 pic and thks for ur usual step by step great presentation making it simple.

Aartee said...

Hi, there is a surprise for u in my blog!

Srivalli said...

JZ, your pictures always comes alive!...all of them are so classic...thanks for sending them!

Illatharasi said...

Hi JZ, me fine. How are you? As usual wonderful presentation:) Thanks for the visit to my blog!

Pearlsofeast said...

Oh my god the biryani looks stunning.

Soma said...

This is unbelievably beautiful. I wish I could have some of these Right Now:-) U have garnished it sooo beautufully.