Thursday, January 22, 2015

Chicken Dum Biryani

It’s 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning. Your kid’s friends are coming for lunch and you have no clue what to make. Very common scenario in any household with kids.

Worry not. Welcome to Anjan’s world of cooking where no ingredient is critical and ease of cooking is essential. Look inside the refrigerator. If you have some chicken in there and in some corner of the kitchen shelf some amount of basmati rice then that’s it. Chicken Dum Biryani and Raita it is for lunch. A very famous and, in my opinion, very healthy food option for parties and special events.

Chicken Dum Biryani needs about 4 hours preparation time. Of that, 3 and half hours for chicken to get marinated and 30 minutes for the cooking. For the cooking, I prefer to use pressure cooker. It has 2 major advantages. The cookers generally have heavy bottom and the lids air tight.

Let’s prepare biryani for 4-5 adults. I hope you will be able to extrapolate it according to your family or party size.

First the list of essential ingredients.
  1. Chicken 1 Kg. Washed and cut into medium size.
  2. Rice 1 kg, preferably long grain basmati.
  3. Onion. 4 large or around 400 gms
  4. Ginger-garlic paste (2 teaspoons)
  5. Salt (To taste )
  6. Turmeric powder ( 1 teaspoon)
  7. Curd. 1 bowl or around 100 gms
  8. Oil. 4-5 tablespoon, to be used for boiling rice and frying the potato pieces.
  9. Ghee. Biryani is healthy because you have the option of using very little ghee.
  10. Garam masala whole and/or powder ( green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaf ). Whichever is not in the kitchen, ignore.
Now, the ‘Good to have’ items 
  1. Green chilies. 3-4 or more, depending on the intensity, chopped
  2. Biryani masala.
  3. Coriander and/or cumin powder.
  4. Nutmeg, Mace (Jaiphal, Javitri 1 each, coarsely ground)
  5. Kewra water or edible rose water
  6. Saffron (kesar) or orange color.
  7. Potato 2 medium. Cut into 2 pieces and half fried.
  8. Fresh Dhaniya leaves (coriander).
  9. Pudina leaves (mint).
  10. Kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves dried).
  11. Grated raw papaya.
  12. 2-3 hard boiled eggs.
Marinate the chicken with curd, ginger-garlic paste, salt (around 1 tablespoon should suffice, but it's taste dependent), turmeric powder,  a teaspoon of biryani masala, coriander powder and/or cumin powder, nutmeg and mace pieces and chopped green chilies. Add to this, chopped coriander, mint leaves and kasuri methi. Set it aside for 3-4 hours. More time for the chicken to get marinated, softer it will be. Only one more item is left to be added.

Slice the onions and fry them in ghee or oil till golden brown. Keep half of it aside and add remaining half to the chicken. Cut the potatoes into two, fry them for 5-6 minutes and add to the chicken. Do it only if you like to eat potato in your biryani.

Soak the rice for half an hour. In a pan put water, add 2 tablespoonful salt and 4-5 tablespoonful oil. Add few strands of pudina, 1 bay leaf, 1-2 whole green cardamom and cinnamon stick into the water. Let it boil. Once the water starts boiling, add the rice. 1 kg rice takes around 5-6 minutes to get half boiled. This is bit critical step. Over boiled and biryani will lose its magic. So keep an eye on it.

In the cooker, pour the marinated chicken. Put the half fried potato pieces. Add rice. Use a strainer to transfer the rice. The rice transfer takes some time and in this while some rice which is still sitting inside the hot water, waiting to be transferred, is getting more than half boiled. This is part of the plan. So don’t worry. You can think of it as a layer consisting of marinated chicken, 50% boiled rice, 60% boiled rice and 70% boiled rice.

On top, add or sprinkle these items one by one - the fried onion you had kept aside, chopped coriander and mint leaves and half teaspoon of biryani masala or garam masala powder, 1 or 2 teaspoon kewra water or edible rose water. Add as much or as little ghee as you like. I generally put around 50 gram ghee. Put few drops of saffron (kesar) soaked in a half cup warm milk. If you don't have saffron, put few drops of orange color. If you have neither, don't bother.

Put the lid on. Place the cooker on high flame for 5 minutes and then on sim for 20 minutes. First 5 minutes of high flame tends to scald the chicken that gives your biryani a smoky aroma. That's it. Your Chicken Dum Biryani is ready.

Initially it may look bit intimidating but believe me, in 2 attempts you will get a hang of it and the kids would just love it.

If you are short of time, you need the raw grated papaya. It works as meat tenderizer and can reduce the marination time by half. For Mutton this is an essential ingredient. Just add around 100 gms or one bowl of grated papaya in the marinating chicken or mutton.

I doubt if anyone in the world, apart from me, puts kasuri-methi. But I like the flavor.

Some people add boiled eggs too to the preparation. If you like that, you may add few hard boiled eggs in-between the  rice layers.

What if you feel the rice is less than half done and in your excitement, have started the transfer process from pan to cooker? Simple. Take few spoonful of the hot water from the pan and add to the cooker. That would provide the necessary moisture for the rice to get fully cooked.

Garam masala, Cumin and Orange Color
Potato fried

Curd, Ginger, Garlic and Raw Papaya
Green and red chili