Most of you have probably seen a recent ad on television with an all-star cast that includes Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Ayesha Khan. Anyone could care less what brand the ad is promoting, but the message in it is simple. Everyone is having dinner at the table, and the male guest asks Nawazuddin who made the biryani he is eating. Nawazuddin jokingly smiles and says their trusted maid cook. His wife Ayesha gives him a smile along with a deadly stare. He then goes on to tell his guests to try the kebab and other dishes made by his wife. The guests however only praise the biryani and ask for the recipe. Nawazuddin is then left with his upset wife who is as quiet as a lioness before catching prey. Why is everyone so scared of making biryani? What is it about this dish that people avoid making it and prefer to eat it in restaurants? Well, this is where I come in and save the day. I have been mastering the art of cooking for the past seven years, so you are all in good hands. Check out my video for the steps to cooking this delightful dish and what it should look like visually at each step.
Half a chicken + 1 whole chicken breast (all bone in)
6-7 medium onions (finely chopped)
1 cup oil
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
1 big cardamom
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup stirred plain yoghurt
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red chilli powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ coriander powder
Chicken Directions & Tips
I will mention some tips and tricks alongside directions to get this dish down right to the last grain. Add oil to the pot. When cutting the onions for the masala part of this recipe make sure you chop it by hand. It should be fine and make sure to take out any green part of the onion as it will never soften in the masala. Add onions with cardamom and cinnamon. The onions should look like they do in the video, dark golden colour.
Add ginger and garlic pastes. Do not cook the ginger and garlic for a long time, only until the garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds). I recommend wearing old ugly clothes for this as you will smell like what you are cooking.
Always make slits on the big pieces of the chicken, especially the drumstick. The slits help the spices to soak through all the way to the bone of the chicken.
After adding the chicken, mix it with the garlic, ginger and onions well and spread it out evenly. Cook covered on medium-low heat for 2 minutes. Flip all the pieces and cook another 2 minutes covered. By now some water should have been released. There might not be a lot if you have already let your chicken drain for a while.
At this point, we can wash and soak the rice. The recipe calls for 3½ cups of basmati rice. Soaking the rice is key. 20 to 30 minutes maximum. Set aside.
Cook the chicken covered on medium low heat for another 5 to 8 mins mixing in between. This gives the chicken good flavour as it is sitting with the good company of the ginger garlic, two flavour powerhouses.
Now add the cumin and coriander powders. Mix well and cook covered on medium-low heat for another 5 minutes. You can like some pictures on Instagram in the meantime.
Now we turn the heat up to medium-high and add the red chilli and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook uncovered mixing in between for 5 minutes. Once the oil starts to separate add the stirred yoghurt and mix like your life depended on it. No curds should form.
Cook covered on medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Bone on the drumstick should be dark brown. This is a sign that the chicken is fully cooked.
Rice Direction and Tips:
3 ½ cups basmati rice (washed and soaked)
3 tsp salt
1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
Pinch yellow food colouring (optional)
Biryani essence (optional)
Transfer the cooked chicken masala to another dish and fill the same pot ¾ with water. Add the salt and whole cumin seed. Bring to a boil. Drain the rice and add to the boiling water and cook until the rice grain break in half easily (about 3 to 4 mins). Make sure it doesn’t turn into Kheer (sweet rice pudding).
Drain the rice but keep about ½ cup at the bottom of the pot with about ½ cup of the water. Take some excess oil from chicken and drip onto sides of the pot to prevent rice sticking. Now start layering. First 1/3 of rice then ½ of chicken, etc.
Add yellow food colouring on top and some biryani essence if you like that stuff. Cover and cook on low heat undisturbed for 15 minutes, (put a timer on). Once time is up, uncover and use the three mix rule. Get out a flat face spatula (round will break your rice faster) and mix from bottom to top in 3 different areas of the pot. Now you can eat all the biryani you can digest.
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