Pakistani Biryani (picture from flickr.com)
Biryani is one the most famous Pakistani cuisines ever. It is one of my favorites and is enjoyed by millions of people not only from the Indo-Pak sub continent but also from people from the globe. The style of cooking that I’ll write about today is called the ‘Pakistani-Biryani’, where the chicken and the rice are cooked separately and then combined in the final step. There are a lot of different ways of making Biryani and here is one simple, easy and yet incredibly delicious recipe that is just ‘too good’ and I had to pass it on. Do not get intimidated by the number of ingredients or the steps…just follow along step-by-step and WOW your family and friends! Biryani can most certainly be enjoyed with Raita (mint-cilantro yogurt)
Chicken with bones – 2 lbs, cut
Basmati Rice – 2 cups
Water – 8 cups
Yogurt (Curd) – 1.5 cups
Potatoes – 1, large (cubed) – optional
Oil – 3 table spoons
Clarified Butter (Ghee) – 2 table spoons
Garlic – 2 table spoons (minced)
Ginger – 2 table spoons (minced)
Green Chili – to taste
Cinnamon Stick – 2″pc
Bay Leaves – 2
Black Cardamom – 1
Mace – 3 pcs
Green Cardamoms – 4
Cloves – 4
Whole Peppercorns – to taste
Golden Raisins – 1 table spoons
Cashews – 1 table spoons (heaped)
Salt – to taste
Black Cumin – 1 table spoons
Cumin Powder – 1 table spoons
Coriander Powder – 1 table spoons
Turmeric Powder – 1/4 table spoons
Red Chili Powder – to taste
Saffron (Kesar) – 1/4 table spoons
Mint Leaves – 2 handfuls (chopped)
Cilantro – 1/4 cup (chopped)
Fried Onions – 1 cup (divided)
1. Wash and soak the Rice for a minimum 1/2 hour.
2. In a pan, bring 8 cups of water to boil.
3. Once boiling, add Green Cardamoms (2), Bay Leaves (1), Salt and Oil (1table spoons).
4. Add in the washed Rice to boiling water.
5. Once the Water starts boiling again, time and cook for 5 minutes (the Rice needs to be 3/4 way done).
6. Drain the water from the Rice and keep aside.
7. In a separate bowl, mix Saffron and Water (1table spoons), keep aside and allow it to soak.
8. Heat a pan on medium heat; add in the Oil and the Clarified Butter.
9. Once hot, add in the Cashews and Golden Raisins, fry for a couple of minutes till the cashews get a light golden color.
10. Remove from the Pan. Make sure you drain all the Oil. Keep aside.
11. Add in the balance of whole spices – Cinnamon Stick, Mace, Bay Leaf, Black & Green Cardamom, Peppercorns & Cloves.
12. Fry for under a minute.
13. Add in Black Cumin (use regular Cumin if Black is not available).
14. Allow them to sizzle.
15. Add in Ginger & Garlic, fry for another minute. Keep stirring.
16. Add in the washed, cleaned pieces of Chicken. Mix well.
17. Once the Chicken looks sealed, add in the following while stirring constantly – Yogurt, Fried Onion (1/2 cup), Cilantro (save some for garnish), Mint, Green Chili, Potatoes and the dry spices – Coriander, Cumin, Turmeric, Red Chili & Salt.
18. Mix very well. Cover and cook for about 10-15 minutes (the chicken should be 3/4 of the way done).
19. Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (approx 121 degrees C).
20. Coat an oven-proof dish with a little oil.
21. Start by layering the Chicken at the bottom of the dish along with a few pieces of Potatoes (saving the gravy for top layer).
22. Fluff up the Rice and add a layer of it on top of the Chicken with half of the Rice.
23. Layer the balance of the potatoes and all the gravy on the rice layer.
24. Next spread the balance of the Rice.
25. Layer the Cashews, Raisins, Fried Onions, Cilantro and Saffron.
26. Drizzle a little bit of Oil.
27. Cover with an air-tight lid or a foil and bake for 1 hour or till the potatoes are cooked.
28. Once out of the oven, take a ladle and mix it gently but well.
29. Allow it to sit for 5 minutes and serve with ‘Cilantro & Mint Raita’
30. This recipe and proportions serves around 8 people.
1. Chicken with bones works best for this recipe, but if you prefer boneless, then you will need to cook the chicken a little less.
2. Fresh Mint is sometimes not easily available. Substitute for dried, crushed Mint, available at any Pakistani-Indian grocery stores.
3. You can also add in full boiled eggs along with the gravy…looks good and tastes very good.
4. For a stronger orange color to the biryani, add the Saffron before the Cashews and Raisins.
5. If you feel that the Biryani is overcooked, use the handle-end of the ladle to mix in without mashing up any more.