Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani
1 whole chicken / 2 lbs chicken,
1 kg Basmati rice / 2 lbs rice
1 cup thinly sliced onions fry,
2 tsp ginger/garlic paste,
3 tsp chilli powder,
1/2 tsp turmeric,
100 g cashew nuts,
4 or 5 bay leaves,
4 or 5 cloves,
2 cm long cinnamon sticks,
3 or 4 cardamom pods,
1 or 2 tsp shah jeera,
2 cups mint leaves,
1 cup coriander leaves (cilantro),
½ tsp garam masala powder(shah jeera, elachi, dalchinina, lavangam),
1 ½ tsp salt (according to taste),
1 cup ghee,
½ cup yogurt,
1 cup oil,
few strands of saffron,
2 cups finely sliced onions,
1. Make deep incisions on the chicken flesh – deep enough for spices to get absorbed but making them too deep could render the pieces smaller. Mix turmeric, chilli powder, salt, garlic paste, yogurt, and half-lemon’s juice. Thoroughly apply this paste onto the meat flesh and let marinate for an hour.
2. Heat about 100 ml of oil. Roast cumin, cloves, cinnamon, depoded cardamom, bay leaves, ½ spoon cumin, 1 spoon coriander powder, and finally add onions(2). Wait a couple of minutes to add mint leaves. When onions turn slight brown, add marinated chicken and cook for about 20-30 min. It should NOT be fully cooked at this stage; add garam masala and coconut powder and turn off flame when about ¾ cooked. Gravy should not be much, chicken pieces should look roasted.
3. Meanwhile, while the chicken is still cooking, prepare the biryani rice. Slightly rinse 3 cups of basmati, and add water little less than the volume of the rice itself so that its only half cooked preferably in an electric cooker. Amount of water actually depends on kind of rice at hand and your experience helps to judge it. Also add 1-2 teaspoons of salt to it. Take a few semi-cooked grains of rice and colour them with diluted saffron for garnishing.
4. You will need a utensil of about 12″ (300 mm) base. Place about half of semi-cooked rice in it. Next, layer half of chicken on it again topped by a layer of rice (half of the remaining). One more layer of remaining chicken, finally with layer of rest of the rice on top ends the rice-chicken layering stage.
5. Heat oil and deep fry half the sliced onions to golden brown. Similarly fry cashew. Garnish the top layer with these two along with 100 ml ghee, coconut milk, saffron rice grains and coriander. Lid the vessel and try making it airtight (but no pressure should build up). Put on high flame for 5 min before reducing it to low flame. The flame should NOT be at the vessel’s centre, but on one side of it. Wait for 2-3 min and turn the vessel to heat other next part on its circumference. This way, keep rotating the vessel every 2-3 min for about 20 min. Every time you turn it, carefully disturb the contents by a shake/jerk so as to avoid settling of ghee at the bottom.
6. Put off the flame and wait for about 10 min before opening. Before serving, mix the medley from the bottom. Serve with Raitha and Mirchi ka Salan.
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