Recipe for Biryani
My first attempt at noting down the recipes I know. I’ll try to add photos when I make it next time. This one is for my good friend Pinto 🙂
The recipe is dedicated to my mama from whom I learnt some fundamental concepts of biryani. I’m giving a North-Indian version. The biryani down south tends to be bit different, even served/mixed with curd at times.
Biryani is a rice-based preparation, most probably part of the Mughal cuisine. There are many variations of the recipe, but there are two constants: rice and crisp-fried onions. Usually it’s made with Mutton (goat/lamb meat), but chicken is also quite common. It can also be prepared without any meat at all, with eggs, cauliflower or soya nuggets!
The formula for biryani is 1 kilo. That is, 1 kilo of main ingredients, i.e., rice and meat.
Rice: 1 kilo (preferably Basmati, but any rice which is not sticky, long-grained and cooks easily is okay)
Chicken(skinned)/Mutton: 1 kilo, cut into medium-sized pieces
Onions: 1/2 kilo
Tomatoes: 4 pieces, ripe, cut into small pieces
Curd(yogurt): 4 table-spoons (thick)
Ginger-garlic paste: 2 tea-spoons
Red chilly powder: 1 teaspoon
Spices (unground): Pepper, Cinnamon, Bay leaves (to your taste)
Butter: 50 gram
Cooking Oil (groundnut/sunflower/vegetable oil): 6-8 tablespoons
Dry-fruits (if you prefer): nutmeg (soak them in water), cashews (split in two)
Process: Clean and drain excess water from chicken/mutton. Add ginger-garlic paste, Reh chilly powder and curd to the meat, mix it well and keep it for marinating (it’s even better to marinate mutton for a couple of hours). Cut the onions in thin, long pieces.
Wash the rice, and keep it aside.
Heat sauce pan (with thick bottom) and add cooking oil. Fry the whole spices and then add the cut onions. Fry the onions at medium flame till the onions turn brown (not golden brown or dark brown, just brown like a dried leaf ). Take out half of the fried onions (while leaving the excess oil in the pan itself) and keep them aside. Add tomatoes and cook tilll the tomatoes almost turn into paste. Add the marinated meat (chicken/mutton), mix it well, cover it and cook (stirring inbetween) till the meat is done. Take the pan off the flame.
While the meat is cooking, boil water, approximately 1.5 times the volume of rice (depends on the type of rice you are using- remember, the rice should not get sticky!). Add the rice to the boiling water and cook it till it is almost done. This is the trickiest part of the recipe- the rice should be correctly done- uncooked rice will spoil the taste, and overcooked rice will spoil the looks! Spread the rice in a plate/sieve and leave it, keeping it covered.
The next part is layering- you should have about 2 layers of meat sandwiched between 3 layers of rice. Take a big pan or baking bowl (if you’re using oven), big enough to contain both the rice and the meat. If possible, coat the pan with a little (melted) butter. Lay a 2-inch layer of rice, breaking the lumps if present. Spread half the meat (along-with the gravy) evenly on the rice. Spread some of the fried onions which we had kept aside. Also spread small chunks of butter and dry-fruits (if you are using them) on it. Repeat the layer of rice and meat. Finish with a top layer of remaining rice, butter and dryfruits.
Next is a process called “dam lagaana”, i.e., letting the whole thing cook slowly, while making sure the moisture and aroma does not escape. Cover the assembly with a tight lid or aluminium foil. If you have oven, keep it in it at 180 degrees for 30 mins. Otherwise, keep it on low flame for 30 mins. Leave it aside for another 15-20 mins before serving.
Spread finely cut coriander leaves on top before serving. Make sure you serve by cutting across the layers (vertically). Biryani goes well with green salad, or vegetable raita.
Biryani can be had as a meal in itself, since it’s quite filling. It can also be combined with roasted stuff, or some vegetables.