Who doesn’t like a good biryani? No don’t answer that, my sister for one, doesn’t like rice and meat together, though as a kid that’s all she ate. Blame it on the size 4 factor! I love food, isn’t that obvious and a good biryani always sets off the drool factor. My favourite biryani is the dry sofiana kinds, not too much masala sticking to the rice, but the aromas…they can set the dullest and laziest heart in action.
As a rule we tend to stay away from white rice and this recipe stays away from it too. This brown rice basmati chicken biryani is so high on the health factor that you might just make this one a weekly affair. Good for the heart and soul. Also I make my own biryani masala, yes I have included the recipe in this post, it’s an old family recipe. Indian food is all about the masalas and I find that though time-consuming, the homemade masalas up the deliciousness and flavours in the recipe many fold. You can use a ready-made masala too, in that case I would go with Shan Biryani Masala or Everest Biryani Masala.
The recipe has been divided into various stages and I’ve segregated the ingredients as per the stage of cooking.
You need to start by marinating the chicken, cooking the rice and then going on to frying the onions, almonds and potato, cooking the chicken and then finally the assembly. The dum is an important part, it’s simple, don’t let the word scare you.
Time taken: 3 hours
Cooking time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Marination time: 1 hour
Skill level: Medium
Equipment Needed: Deep dish thick based pan large enough to hold 3 kgs , Blender, Fryer
- 1 kg chicken
- 6 medium-sized onions, 4 diced small for the chicken and 2 sliced thin and fried till brown and crispy (used during assembly)
- 2 large potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces, parboiled and fried (used during assembly)
- 2 eggs, boiled and cut into half (used during assembly)
- 4 tablespoons fresh ghee
- 10-12 almonds, fried (used during assembly)
- Pinch of saffron dissolved in ¼ cup of warm milk (used during assembly)
- Freshly chopped mint, to garnish (used during assembly)
- 200 grams wheat flour, kneaded into a tough dough without oil or salt (for the dum)
For the Chicken Marinade:
- 1 cup yoghurt
- 3 tablespoons of biryani masala
- ½ tablespoon turmeric
- Salt and red chilli powder to taste
- 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic-chilli paste
1. Wash and clean the chicken.
2. Marinate it in the masala for at least 1 hour before cooking. You can marinate it for as much as 24 hours.
To cook the chicken:
1. Use a pan that has a well-fitting lid.
2. Add the ghee and fry the finely chopped onions till translucent.
3. Add the chicken and caremalise it.
4. Add ½ cup of water and cook it till the chicken is almost done. About 20 minutes if using farm fresh chicken.
5. Take it off the stove and start assembling.
For the Rice:
- 3 green cardamom
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon shahi jeera
- 1 dry Kashmiri chilli
- 1 inch Sri Lankan cinnamon (you can use whats in your kitchen)
- 3 cups of brown basmati rice (soaked in water for 30 mins)
- 6 cups of water
- Salt to taste
1. Add all the ingredients to the water and bring it to a boil.
2. Add the pre-soaked rice and cook it till it’s just done, should be a little hard/ resistant to break.
3. Remove in a flat dish and cool it off.
4. You can remove all the garam masala at this stage.
To Assemble the Biryani:
1. We are going to use 2 layers or rice, potatoes, onions and almonds and only 1 layer of the chicken and eggs
2. Lower layer: The chicken, do not use too much gravy, if you have extra, just pour it into another bowl. You can serve the biryani with the gravy. This keeps the biryani dry or else its to mushy for my liking.
3. Second layer: Add a layer of the fragrant rice (use half of the rice you’ve cooked).
4. Third layer: Layer with the fried potatoes, almonds and onions. And pour some of the saffron milk on it. (Quantity: half of what you have)
5. Fourth layer: Add another layer of the rice.
6. Fifth layer: Layer it with the left over fried potatoes, onions and almonds. And pour some of the saffron milk on it.
7. Sixth layer: Place the eggs on the top layer and sprinkle with freshly chopped mint.
For the Dum:
The easiest way is this:
1. Cover the pan with the lid.
2. Use the dough and roll it into a thin baton and stick it all across the point where the pan meets the lid. To ensure the dough sticks on, you need to dry out the pan and lid from the outside and not use any oil whilst making the dough. Once the pan is sealed, your dum is set.
Cooking the Biryani:
1. Now cook the biryani in the pan on a low flame for at least 45 minutes. In case you don’t have a thick bottom pan, place the pan with the biryani on another skillet or tawa.
2. If you have an oven you can place it in the oven and cook it at 120 degree centigrade for 1 hour. Remember all your ingredients are cooked and you are just infusing the aromas together.
3. Within an hour, the aromas from the biryani will call out to you.
For the fan fare:
Take the biryani to the table and let the guest of honour, break the dum and serve the biryani.
Serve with Vegetable Raita
- 2 cups yoghurt, watered down to 3 cups
- 1 cup of finely chopped onions, tomato, cucumber
- ¼ cup mint
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- Salt, pepper, red chilli powder
1. Mix the yoghurt, onions, tomato and cucumber and season it.
2. Add the mint and pomegranate seeds on top as a garnish.
3. Serve with the biryani.
For the Biryani Masala
- 2 bay leaves
- 1½ teaspoons fennel seeds
- 3 star anise
- 6 green cardamom
- 2 black cardamom
- 1 teaspoon green peppercorn (you can use black or red too)
- 5 2-inch cinnamon sticks
- 10-12 cloves
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 1 mace flower
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 3 medium-sized stone flowers
- 4-5 dry Kashmiri chilli
1. Roast all the spices in a really low flame separately (because each one has a different burn point and you don’t want your masala to smell burnt.
2. Cool them off for a day or two till they are crisp again. (If they retain their humidity, your masala will spoil within no time)
3. Blend them to a very fine powder. Sieve it, and blend the larger pieces of the masala again. Store in an airtight jar for up to 6 months.
NOTE: I use 2 teaspoons of the masala for a pulao or vegetable biryani, and 3 teaspoons for a chicken or mutton biryani.