Chicken Biryani

The name “Biryani” fills you with hunger, drives you to the fag end of resistance, compels you to drop all guards against calories – and all you are left capable to do is to sniff in the aroma, imagine the taste, lose control and dig in to savor that soft juicy chicken drumstick coated in beautiful orangish yellow rice, placed gracefully amongst dancing strands of saffron and sweet fried caramelized onions!!

Ingredients (Serves 4) Chicken – 1 kg Basmati Rice – 600 gms Onion – 6 medium sized Cinnamon Stick – about 3 inches (broken in sizeable pieces) Cloves – 8

Bay Leaves – 4 Green Cardamom – 6 Black pepper - 10 Saffron – 1 gm Milk – 1 cup Refined Oil for frying

For Marinade Ginger Garlic Paste – 4 tsp Curd – I cup Red Chilly Powder – 1.5 tsp Coriander Powder – 2 tsp Cumin Powder – 2 tsp Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Salt – To taste Paste of - Green Chillies – 6 nos, Mint leaves (Pudina) – handful and Coriander leaves – handful Refined Oil – 1 cup

For Garnish Cashews – 10 nos. Mint leaves – handful Green chillies - 5

Recipe Mix all ingredients for the marinade. Then add chicken to it, mix well and let it marinate for 4 hours. (Marination time is a matter of personal choice and convenience – but if you really want my advice, the longer the better) Meanwhile, wash and soak the rice for an hour.

Finely slice the onions – don’t chop them, its more like julienne; long thin matchstick strips. Heat oil and deep fry the onions on moderate heat till brown. Drain and spread on a plate. They’ll soon turn crisp. Be sure not to fry them too much else they’ll lose their sweetness and impart a bitter taste to the biryani. Also slightly fry some mint leaves, green chillies and cashew nuts for garnish and keep aside. Add saffron to lukewarm milk and let it sit for a while. Heat a thick bottom pan. (The choice of vessel is a bit important in biryani. You can use a lagan or a patila- it’s more like a thick bottom saucepan). Heat little oil (about 2 tsp) and add cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, black pepper and green cardamom. When they crackle add the marinated chicken to it and half of fried onions, mix well. Simmer for a while then cover and cook on low heat. Cook till the chicken is dry and tender. (Be sure not to overcook it as the chicken cooks for a while with rice as well). Heat water in another pan. When the water starts boiling add a 1 tsp salt to it. Then add the soaked rice to it. Cook the rice till it is 50% cooked and then drain.

Now layer the rice on the chicken. Pour saffron milk on the rice. Layer the remaining onions on rice and top with fried chilies, mint leaves and cashew nuts. Cover the vessel with foil. In case you don’t have foil, put on the lid and keep something heavy on the lid to not allow the steam to escape. This process is known as “dum”. Dum the biryani for 20-25 minutes on low heat and voila-its done! Serve hot with Raita. (Quick Raita – to 1 cup curd add ½ cup water, one finely sliced onion, 2 chopped green chillies, chopped coriander leaves and salt –whisk well!) PS: As a rule remember – the ratio of meat (chicken /mutton / beef) to rice in biryani is always 2:1

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