Thursday, May 10, 2012

Pakki Murgh Dum Biryani

Ingredients for the biryani:
1 whole cut up Chicken
2 cups basmati rice
2-3 tablespoons full cream yogurt
2-3eggs for garnish
1 1/2 large onions
1 bunch fresh Cilantro
1 handful fresh mint leaves
Spice powders: turmeric powder, chilli powder, biryani masala
Whole spices: black cardamom, cinnamon stick, star anise, mace, bay leaf, shahi jeera, whole black pepper
ginger-garlic paste
3/4th cup tomato puree
Salt to taste
Oil for cooking

Prep #1: Marinate the chicken with salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, a couple of tablespoons of whole milk yogurt, biryani masala and ginger-garlic paste. Preferably keep overnight in the refridgerator.  

Prep #2: Hard boil a cuple of eggs for garnishing. Sheel them, and slice them into halves and keep aside.

Prep #3: Take some oil in a thick bottomed pan and saute some cashew pieces and raisins on medium heat. This way you'll lightly toast them without burning them. Keep aside for layering.

Prep #4: Julienne 1 large onion into thin strips, toss it with salt and then fry on medium heat for 20-25 mins in a thick bottomed pan. Keep stirring so that the onions slowly browns evenly. Don't do this on high heat or the outside of the onions will burn before the insides cook out. Once the onions are evenly browned, remove with a slotted spoon and lay them out on a paper towel. The onions will showly crisp as it cools down. Keep aside for layering.

Prep #5: Finely chop a bunch of cilantro leaves. Also chop a handful of fresh mint leaves. Keep aside for layering

Prep #6: Heat a couple of tablespoons of milk and then add some strands of saffron to this milk. Keep aside for layering.

Prep #7: Wash some basmati rice and soak in water for 15-20 mins. Take a big vessel of boiling water. Add some salt, 1 black cardamom, 1 stick of cinnamom, 1 star anise, 1 mace piece and 1 bay leaf. Add the presoaked rice into this boiling water and boil for 5-6 mins. Drain the semi-cooked rice into a colander and keep aside for layering.  


1. Heat some oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add some shahi jeera, star anise and whole black pepper to it. Once the garam masala sizzles, add 1/2 a chopped onion and saute till the onion turns golder brown.
2. Add the marinated chicken along with its marinade. Add some tomato puree. Cook covered on medium heat, stirring occasionally, till chicken is almost done. Now open the lid and let the moisture escape from the vessel while the chicken gets done.  
3. Take a pot with a lid, which can be baked in the oven. Coat a layer of butter or ghee on the sides of the pot. Layer some of the semicooked rice on the bottom, then sprinkle the caramelized onions, fried cashews & raisins, cilantro leaves, mint leaves. Now layer the cooked chicken on top of this layer. Again layer some caramelized onions, fried cashews & raisins, cilantro leaves & mint leaves. Finally cover with the last of the rice. Sprinkle the saffron milk all over the pot. Arrange the hard boiled egg halves over the rice.
4. Cover this assembled biryani with an aluminum foil, so that the steam does not escape from the pot. Now put the lid over the foil and bake in a preheated oven (350 F) for about 20 mins so that the rice gets completely cooked.

For the Raita:

1. Finely chop onions, green chillies, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro and mint.
2. Add water to some yogurt so that it thins out.
3. Add the ingredients from #1 & #2 and to it add kala namak (black salt), chat masala, ground roasted jeera & salt. Adjust amount of salt since chat masala and kala namak are already salty.

1. I usually use whole cut up chicken for biryani. Or I even use thigh and leg pieces. But I always stay away from breast pieces since they become really dry and fibrous.
2. Try to make your own caramelized onions or skip the onions altogether. Store bought fried onions are made with questionable oil and smell horrible. It will ruin the flavor of your biryani.
3. Time the rice in such a way that your rice is ready just about when your chicken is done. That way your rice does not get a chance to cool down.
4. Use the non-watery part of the full cream yogurt, or even better use greek yogurt. Do not make the marinade too watery, because the chicken will release some water when it is being cooked and we are adding tomato puree too. If the cooked chicken becomes too watery, skip the saffron milk or else the rice in the lower layer will become bharta (mush) :-)
5. You can even use some food color, to give the biryani an authentic look. I shy away from using food color on a regular basis, but in case you have guests, you can make an exception. You will want to sprinkle a pinch of food color into a bowl and mix some semi cooked rice with it. The semi cooked rice will turn red. Now sprinkle this colored rice within your layers. To keep things healthy, you can even substitute some beet instead of using food color.
6. You can sprinkle some kewra water and rose water to the assembly, but make sure that in the end, you don't have too much moisture....or else the rice will become soggy instead of grainy.

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