Biryani is a rice-based dish made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and chicken, mutton, fish, eggs, or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n), which means "fried" or "roasted". Biryani was believed to have been invented in the kitchen of the Muslim Mughal Emperors. The difference between biryani and pulao is that while pulao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani denotes a dish where the rice is cooked separately from the gravy. The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered, resulting in a dish of the contrasting flavours of flavoured rice (which is cooked separate with spices) and intensely flavoured meat or vegetables. This separation is partly of necessity. The proportion of meat/vegetables to the rice is high enough to make biryani a one-dish meal. In a properly made biryani, the final dish is dry or minimally moist, with the individual rice grains separate. However, many biryani recipes call for the rice to be cooked for three-quarters of the usual time, followed by layering with the meat/vegetable base, and then a final slow-steaming (Dum) until fully done. This approach allows the flavors to blend well. There are various types of biryani like Hyderabadi, Lucknowi, Awadh, Andhra style, Kerala style etc., I have tried various biryanis as my family loves biryani. The below one is a quick biryani when you have no time for elaborate preparations. Even though it seems complicated, this is a very very simple yet yummy biryani.
Chicken 1 kg
Basmati rice 1/2 kg
Onions – 3 (sliced and fried brown - brishta)
Potatoes – 2 medium sized (each chopped into 4 pieces)
Whole Garam Masala (1 bay leaf, 1 inch piece cinnamon, 1 star anise, 3-4 black pepper,2-3 cloves, 2-3 cardamoms)
3-4 slit green chillies
10 cashews chopped / few raisins - fried
Yellow or orange food color
Yoghurt ½ cup
Red chilly powder 1 full teaspoon
Turmeric powder ½ teaspoon
Dhania powder ½ teaspoon
Jeera powder ½ teaspoon
Ginger /Garlic paste 1 tablespoon
Garam Masala powser - 1 teaspoon
Lime/Lemon juice 1 teaspoon
Salt to taste
Chop the chicken into medium pieces, wash, pat dry and set aside.
Apply lime/lemon juice and salt to chicken.
In a bowl whisk all the ingredients for maranade (except lime/salt).
Add this to the chicken. Add the chooped potatoes. Mix well and set aside for ½ and hour.
Heat a heavy bottom pan with oil or ghee (1 tablespoon). Add chicken /potatoes pieces, fry for a minute add 2 cups of water. Cover and cook till chicken/potatoes are done and there is a thick gravy.
Slice 3 medium sized onions, apply salt, squeeze out the excess water.
Heat a pan with ghee or oil and fry the onions till crisp and brown (brishta)
Wash the rice and soak for 10 minutes.
Heat a deep vessel with ghee or oil.
Add whole garam masala, fry for 1 minute till you get the aroma of the spices.
Add the rice and fry (careful not to break the grains) till coated with spices and ghee
Add sufficient water and cook the rice till ¾ done (¾ cooked rice means, you should be able to feel a slight grain and the rice should be quite firm when you press a grain of not fully cooked rice with your fingers). Drain and divide the rice into two.
Pour a teaspoon of ghee on both the divided rice. To one add food color (or you can add saffron soaked in milk) mix till the color is blended and keep both sections of the rice aside.
Take a deep bottom vessel.
Pour 1 tablespoon of hot ghee or oil.
Place ½ the potatoes at the bottom of the vessel
Add the ½ the quantity of chicken pieces on top of it.
Spread some fried onions on top of it.
Add some chopped coriander/mint on it
1 – 2 slit green chillies
Add the white rice (you can discard the whole spices if you want)
Top with chicken and potatoes
Add some more fried onions, chopped mint/coriander, few cashew/raisins
Place the colored rice on top.
Spread the balance onions, mint/coriander, cashews, raisins on top.
Cover the vessel. Seal the edges (I sealed with foil paper).
Place a tawa on gas and then place the vessel on top of it and let it cook on dum for 15-20 minutes.
Leave covered for 10 minutes before opening it.
Serve hot with raita. (a yoghurt based salad with chopped onions, green chillies, coriander and mint)