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Mar 12

Biryani

Biryani is a preparation that goes back to the time of Mughal emperors, and before that, to Persian culture. Mughal emperors had a love for good food, and It has been considered a food for the rich, and has association with affluence, presumably because the recipe was invented by royal chefs, who spent a lot of time in preparing new things to please the emperor. Also, the ingredients required for the preparation of biryani, such as chicken or meat, saffron and ghee, have been considered expensive for the common man in India.

Biryani is similar to pulao, since it is a rice preparation and has vegetables or meat in it. However, the preparation for both is quite different. Pulao requires the vegetables or meat and rice to be cooked together. However, in biryani, the rice and meat are cooked separately and combined mid way through the preparation. Biryani is usually more flavorful and richer than pulao, although

The preparation of biryani is quite an elaborate and time consuming process, but well worth the effort. When making biryani, the meat is layered with the rice to give the rich flavors. A key ingredient in biryani is saffron, which provides it the distinctive taste as well as its varying white and yellow color.

It is possible to make both-pulao and biryani preparations with ingredients that reduce the calorie count. However, I have not yet come across a preparation for biryani that avoids the use of ghee (that adds to the richness of the biryani) without affecting the taste significantly.

Biryani goes well with Raita or yogurt chutney. Since Biryani is heavy owing to the ghee it is prepared with, raita helps to digest it. Vegetable raita works very well, which is made with chopped tomato, onion and cilantro.

Here is a recipe for a preparation that my mom rates as “the best biryani ever”.

Ingredients

Chicken: 750gm or about 1.7 pounds

Cashews: 1 tbsp

Rice: 2.5 cups

Ginger paste or shredded ginger: 1 tsp heaped

Garlic paste or shredded garlic: 1 tsp heaped

Curd: ¾ cup

Tomato puree: ½ cup

Potatoes: 5 (quartered and flash fried)

Green chillies: 2 finely chopped

Red chilly powder: ½ tsp

Cumin powder: ½ tsp

Garam masala: ½ tsp

Onion fried and crushed: 1 tbsp

Juice of ½ lime

Salt to taste

Saffron: 1 pinch

Saffron in Milk: 1/3 cup

Ghee: 1/3 cup

Khara masala (1 Bay leaf, 3-4 cloves, 2-3 green cardamom, 1 black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon stick)

Onion sliced and fried for garnish

Method:

In a pan, heat ghee and add the cashews. Fry till the cashews are lightly brown. Remove the cashews from the pan. Now add the khara masala. Fry for 30 seconds and set aside.

Clean the chicken well. Cover with lime juice. Add  tomato puree, curd, cumin powder, red chilly powder, garam masala, salt, pinch saffron and the chopped green chilies. Mix all the ingredients well and keep aside to marinade.

Boil rice in a saucepan till ¾ done (as soon as water bubbles over, strain the rice).

Preheat oven to about 120 degree centigrade or 250 degree Fahrenheit.

Take an oven safe pan to prepare the biryani. Sprinkle some of the rice on the base. Put the marinated chicken on the rice. Add potato and mix with the masala over it. Sprinkle all the remaining rice over the chicken loosely. Add the khara masala fried in ghee over the rice. Add the milk and saffron mixture, cashew nuts and fried onion on top

Seal the pan with aluminum foil. Bake the biryani for about 1 hour. Garnish with onions and serve hot.

There it is-fairly easy, and pretty outstanding. Try it out and leave your feedback.

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