If you notice I don’t usually cook Indian food, not that I don’t want it, don’t get me wrong I love curries, I am just intimidated on how to make it as amazing like how the Indian moms do it, with too much flavour and spices, I am scared of not getting it right. But sometimes when you get it right you will be amazed of the results. I have been planning to make Biryani for quite some time now, until one of my friends made one at home and taught me how to prepare it, I never knew it was simple so a week after I did gave it a shot.
The first time I tried Biryani was in Malaysia and it was a lamb biryani, very tasty and unforgettable meal. Still have memories of that first time as I was impressed how the vessel it came from was enormously large, filled with colourful basmati rice. When I ordered it, the guy serving me scooped out a large portion of rice then started digging the bottom for some curry lamb pieces, bottom part definitely looks tasty, with all the sauce and colour as well as the oils from the meat, he scooped some of the curry together with some of the sauce and oils then topped it on my rice. That was a really nice meal. very tasty and very filling.
I never knew how it was prepared until my friend told he how to, so in a gist Biryani, in my own words, it is a one pot curry dish topped with spiced rice which is cooked together. Curry that goes on the bottom can be any meat, chicken, goat, lamb, beef or seafood, not sure if you can do it with vegetables (I haven’t seen one) but definitely that can be an option. Like many great dishes the origin of this is unknown but most probably somewhere in Persia as the word is an Urdu word that was derived from the Persian language, and this language is used as an official language in different parts of medieval India by various Islamic dynasties, some say that is that it originates from birinj, the Persian word for rice and some say it was derived from biryan or beriyan, which is to fry or to roast. The only documented account for the creation of this dish is from the royal kitchens of the Mughal Empire where native spicy rice dishes of India and the Persian pilaf was merged into one dish.
There are many varieties of this dish, so many it’s hard to list them all but today we will make chicken, which I think is the easiest one to prepare.
- 1½ kg chicken legs and thigh sections
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 2 tbsp warm water
- handful of chopped coriander
- 4 tbsp ghee
- crispy onions
- 1 cup plain yoghurt
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 8 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp garam marsala
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 4 tsp cumin
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cayenne
- In a large container that you can cover, combine all marinade ingredients together. Add the chicken and coat it well, cover tightly then marinate overnight.
- In the day you will cook the biryani, remove the chicken from the fridge one hour before cooking.
- In a large pot bring 3 litres of water of a boil, add all rice ingredients then bring back to a boil, cook for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes drain then set it aside.
- Prepare the saffron by soaking them in 2 tbsp warm water, set is aside.
- In a large pot, add the marinated chicken together with the marinade. Cover and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove the cover then continue to cook for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.
- Arrange the chicken so it covers the entire bottom of the pot, add a generous amount of the crispy onions and coriander. Top it with the par boiled rice together with its spices. Flatten the surface then drizzle the prepared saffron together with the liquid it was soaked on. Drizzle the ghee on top. Put the lid back on, place pot back on the stove in medium heat, once it starts steaming turn heat to low then cook slowly for 25 minutes.
- Remove from stove, keep the lid on the set it aside for 15 minutes.
- To serve, grab some patches of different coloured rice, get some chicken pieces then garnish with crispy onions and coriander.