Biryani is a rice-based dish layered with meat and/or vegetables. The rice and meat are cooked separately, and then layered and baked together or cooked on low flame. This allows the aromas from various spices to get fully infused, making biryani highly enjoyable and delectable. Often made at my house as a party dish, I decided to make it as a weeknight treat for my family to enjoy! It is elaborate but those who have tasted biryani know it’s worth the effort.
Traditionally, the dish is served with a raita made with cucumber, tomatoes and onions. The yogurt helps to cool the palette from the heat of the spices in the biryani. I made this with lots with caramelized onions, fresh cilantro, mint, green chillies, yogurt and saffron. The saffron turns the white basmati rice to a beautiful sunny yellow color and also gives it a lot of flavor and aroma.
There are many different types of biryani and methods of cooking it. This one has cooked meat and rice layered together which is called “pukki” biryani which means where the rice and meat have been cooked separately and then layered. The “kachha” type is where the raw meat is marinated for a couple of hours and then uncooked rice is layered and then cooked together (a little intimidating for me). I like to be always sure about the meat being cooked right and well. This recipe comes from a very close family friend who is a wonderful cook and hails from Hyderabad which is in the southern part of India, known for it’s great food especially biryani and hence the name”Hyderabadi Biryani”.
My husband was thrilled to see this for dinner last night. I served it with dahi wadas (ground fried lentils in a creamy yogurt sauce) potatoes, salad and papad. It was such a delight to see my hubby and daughter enjoy it, we had our own little party!
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken -I used skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks. The bones help the chicken to be moist and juicy.
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger paste (I use a microplane zester)
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated garlic paste
- 2 medium onions- sliced
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, washed and chopped fine
- 1 1/4 loosely packed fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
- 2 green chillies chopped fine
- 1/4 cup oil
- 1 teaspoon red chilly powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 cup yogurt ( I used non-fat)
- 6 green cardamoms
- 4 cloves
- small piece of cinnamon stick
- Juice of 1 lemon or lime
- 1/2 cup warm milk
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- salt to taste
- 2 cups white basmati rice, washed, soaked for 1/2 hour and cooked with 4 cups of water.