Yesterday I took the lift in my office. I thought “I’ve exercised today, I deserve a reward”. Today I took the lift. I thought “I didn’t exercise today. A break day has to be a total break.”
I am not sure if secretly, deep inside I want to be fat. On the surface I don’t want to be. I also know that I should not say no to Biryani and Lasagna and molaga bajji. Saying no to biryani because I want to fit into an old pair of jeans seems quite shallow.
After about two weeks of sincere exercise and painful diet control, I see that I weigh the same. Instead of breaking the weighing scale, I rebel. I don’t exercise for 3 days after that. I add a heaped spoon of sugar to my coffee instead of sugar-free. I make deep fried sweet corn cutlets. I make a rich, decadent, ghee laden Hyderabad biryani. I eat it for lunch and dinner. There, take that.
I usually shy away from making the Hyderabadi style biryani because it is too much work. It involves lots of different components and takes the whole morning. But this time, I compressed and downsized the process to my lazy comfort level. There are just 3 components to my version – Marinated & cooked chicken, partially cooked rice with whole spices and fried onions. Just layer these three components and you’re done. Critical to a good hyderabadi biryani is the point to which you cook the rice initially. I would recommend not cooking the rice for more than 4-5 minutes. The partially cooked rice should be firm, not soft. Also important is the amount of liquid in the chicken masala before you do the layering. The chicken masala should be thickish, not runny. If your masala is runny, cook down the masala till it is nice and thick.
This Hyderabadi biryani pairs beautifully with a simple raita and boiled eggs. Make a salan if you wish. But this Hyderabadi biryani is magnificent on its own. Rice in lovely ombre shades of yellow and orange dotted with succulent flavour packed chicken make this biryani a great dish to make for parties. This is the kind of biryani that stays in the mind long after you’ve scraped the last ladle from the handi. You can adapt this recipe to make a vegetable hyderabadi biryani or mutton hyderabadi biryani by substituting vegetables or mutton for the chicken. Enjoy!
- Chicken - 500 grams
- Yogurt/Curd – 4 tbsp
- Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
- Garam Masala – 1-1/2 tbsp
- Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- Ginger-Garlic paste – 2 tbsp
- Slit green chillies - 6-8
- Salt to taste
- Coriander leaves – ¾ cup chopped
- Mint leaves/Pudina – ½ cup chopped
- Basmati rice – 2 cups
- Cardamom – 2
- Cinnamon – 2 inch piece
- Cloves - 4
- Bay leaf – 2
- Star Anise – 1
- Onions – 6 sliced and fried until crispy
- Oil – ¼ cup
- Ghee – 5 tbsp
- Milk – ¼ cup
- Yellow food colouring – a pinch
- 1. Mix well all ingredients called for under ‘marinade’. Set aside for 4 hours or overnight in the fridge.
- 2. Soak basmati rice for 30 minutes.
- 3. Fry onions on low heat for about 20 minutes or so until they turn crisp. Set aside the fried onions. Reserve the oil for the biryani.
- 4. To cook the rice, boil a pot of water. Drop in the whole spices called for under ‘Rice’ – cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, star anise. When the water comes to a boil, drain the soaking water and add the soaked rice.
- 5. In about 4-5 minutes, the rice should be about 60% cooked – longer than when raw, but firm and not ‘squishable’ with fingers. Immediately, remove the pot from heat and drain the water. Reserve the rice with the spices.
- 6. To a large thick bottomed pan, add the oil reserved from frying onions. Add ghee. When the oil-ghee mixture is hot, add the marinated chicken along with the marinade. Stir well and cook covered on medium heat for 20 minutes or till the chicken is cooked through and the oil floats on top. Transfer the chicken mixture to another vessel.
- 7. Start layering in the now empty pan. I like to set aside a cup of rice for the colouring and the rest I like to fold in with the chicken masala. Instead of folding in you can add about 1/3rd of the chicken masala to the bottom of the pan, followed by a layer of rice, some fried onions and again a layer of chicken masala and so on till all the chicken masala, rice and fried onions are used up.
- 8. If you are colouring a portion of the rice, mix the food colouring in the milk and drizzle over the top.
- 9. Place the handi on an old tawa. Cover the biryani handi with a flat plate and place a large bowl of hot water on top of the plate. The idea is to provide gentle heat both from the top and from the bottom. Let cook for 15 minutes or till steam escapes from the handi.
- 10. Let biryani sit for 10 minutes. Remove the boiling water and plate and use a blunt spatula to gently mix up the biryani. Be careful not to overdo it lest you break the rice.
- 11. Serve hot with raita and hard boiled eggs
- 1) Critical to a good hyderabadi biryani is the point to which you cook the rice initially. I would recommend not cooking the rice for more than 4-5 minutes. The partially cooked rice should be firm, not soft.
- 2) Also important is the amount of liquid in the chicken masala before you do the layering. The chicken masala should be thickish, not runny. If your masala is runny, cook down the masala till it is nice and thick.