Chicken Biryani

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Chicken Biryani is considered by many as India’s most famous dish on Earth. The special India spices and manner in which it is prepared are what makes Chicken Biryani a meal you will long remember, and revisit often.

Chicken Biryani

(Photo Attributed to Author: Shehal Joseph)

Chicken Biryani Recipe-

  • 8 onions, peeled, sliced paper thin, and fried until light brown
  • 12-15 cashews, browned and softened by frying in a little ghee
  • 2 lb. chicken pieces, skins on and bone in
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp. garlic paste
  • salt, to taste
  • 18 oz. basmati rice (washed and soaked in salted water for 30 minutes, minimum)
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for frying the onions
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 (2″ length) cinnamon stick
  • 4 green whole green cardamom pods
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. shahi jeera seeds
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped fine
  • 1/4 tsp. of mace powder
  • 1/4 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. dark red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground turmeric root
  • 2 Bhut Jolokia hot chili peppers (also called Ghost Peppers), rough chopped (Note: for super hot & spicy Chicken Biryani, leave seeds in. For less hot, discard seeds)
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger root
  • 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
  • 6-7 dried and pitted prunes
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • several strands of Indian Kashmir Saffron
  • 4 tbsp. of desi ghee
  • 2 cups of chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

Implements You Would Like to Have for Authentic Indian Cuisine Cooking-

For the Marinade-
  1. Marinate the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl with the yogurt, garlic paste and some salt, stirred well together to combine, for at least 8 hours.
For Making the Barista (fried onions) for Chicken Biryani-
  1. Slice the onions as thin as possible (paper thin, if you can)
  2. Heat oil in a Kadai (or skillet if you don’t have a Kadai) over medium-high flame.
  3. Using your finger tips, carefully separate the sliced onions, then place them in the oil and reduce the heat to medium-low.
  4. Cook the onions, stirring, and being patient, until they are fragrant and evenly browned. You do not want them to burn on the outside, because then they will remain watery on the inside.
  5. When a uniform browning is obtained, drain the onions on thick layer of paper towels, so that the excess oil is absorbed away. Set aside for now; as the onions cool, they will become crispy.
For Boiling the Rice-
  1. Place a very large, wide and deep cooking pot on the burner and fill it 2/3 full of fresh water. Turn the flame up to high.
  2. Add in the soaked and cleaned basmati rice, along with 1 stick cinnamon, 3-4 cloves, 2 green cardamom pods, 1/4 tsp of shahi jeera seeds, 1 bay leaf and more salt, to taste.
  3. Keep in mind, you should boil the rice in lots of salt. Much like a pasta, you want the rice to absorb the salt. If not, your biryani will be lacking in flavor. Boil on vigorous high flame for about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Just “par-boil” (meaning 3/4 cooked) for now. It should not yet be completely tender. Do a par-boil check, by pressing a grain of rice between your forefinger and thumb. If it breaks into 3 parts, this means your rice is par-boiled perfectly. Strain the rice and spread it out on a flat tray or surface, to let it cool as fast as possible at room temperature.
For Preparing the Chicken-
  1. In a large skillet, the heat oil over medium-high flame.
  2. Add into the skillet the remaining bay leaves, green cardamom pods, cloves, and cinnamon. When they start to crackle, add and stir in the garlic, ginger and chili peppers. Sauté for a minute and then add and stir in the  marinated chicken, along with the marinade. Reduce heat to medium flame, and cook until all the liquid from the chicken and yogurt evaporates.
  3. Next, add and stir in the tomatoes, 1/3 of the fried onions, all the powdered spices, and salt, and cook until all the tomato juices evaporate. If the chicken is cooking too quickly and getting overdone or burned, remove the chicken pieces from the skillet altogether for now. You do not want the chicken to be overcooked at this point, because it will get cooked even more in the following steps.
  4. When done, do a taste test, adjust the seasonings as necessary, and then add, stir and mix in the dried prunes.
For Making the Saffron Milk-
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup of warm milk with a pinch of crushed saffron strands and also add in some whole strands of saffron. Watch the blend until it turns a lovely yellow, then set aside for now.
For Assembling the Chicken Biryani-
  1. Use a deep heavy bottomed skillet with a tight fitting lid. Spread some ghee into the bottom of the skillet and bring the flame up to medium-high.
  2. When the ghee is melted and hot, add a layer of rice, followed by a layer of chicken, and then sprinkle on a liberal amount of fried onions and chopped coriander. Repeat this layering process, with a layer of rice being on top. Then sprinkle the top of everything with any leftover onions and all of the cashews.
  3. Now ladle the saffron-milk over the entire dish, making sure it is distributed evenly over the entire area.
  4. When all of the layers are set, take melted ghee and, with a large ladle, pour most of it around the rim of the pot, and a little on top of the rice.
  5. Seal the pot with its lid. (Note: If your lid does not fit tightly (and this is important) place tin or aluminum foil over the pot, then place the lid on top over it)
  6. Cook on very low heat at a gentle simmer, for 45 minutes.
  7. Then, put the pot on top of a cast iron tawa (or any heavy bottomed pan, if you do not have a tawa) so that the bottom layer of rice will not get burned. Place the tawa on the burner, and reduce the flame to medium.
  8. After 45 minutes turn off the heat.
  9. Let your Chicken Biryani rest and set up, for 5 minutes before opening and serving.

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