Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani – simplified!

Fancy it up with some lemon and mint leaves!

So simple, yet full of flavour!

In the past, making biryani was a big no-no. Why? Because there is so much that usually goes in to it. The Mughal Emperor’s cooks created this dish for their men, as it had the meat, rice and spices that would be expected in a meal, but in one dish. Back then, it probably consisted more of mutton, but chicken was primarily adopted when the dish arrived in India. It is so versatile – you can have anything in it; fish, lamb, prawns, vegetables etc. It is such an underrated, beautiful dish that embodies such aromatic flavour. But nowadays, you can get it for as little as £2.00 a portion. I never had the time to make it properly; mainly because I didn’t have  the appropriate cooking equipment needed.  However, I do not need to! Why? Oh, you ask so many questions! I’ll tell you anyway – the recipe I’m about to tell you is so much more simplified without withdrawing from the flavour of a true biryani! Yes, you can find packet biryani mix out in Asian shops, but that’s not the real deal. This is.

Now, I would usually list the ingredients down first before explaining the method, but I’m not going to this time. I’m going to explain how to cook this deliciousness, together with what is need and how much of it. If I list the ingredients first, you’ll be overwhelmed. But once you see how simple it is, you’ll understand. Trust me on this one!

So, here we go:

First, you need to get a pan of water to the boil. Into this water, you need to add an Indian bouquet garni. What’s this? It’s simple, that’s what it is. All you need is a small cheese cloth/muslin cloth and place 3 black cardamoms, 6 green cardamoms, 10 cloves, pinch of around 7-10 peppercorns, 3 bay leaves and a stick of cinnamon. Tie it up and that is your Indian bouquet garni. Throw this into the water that you’re trying to bring up to a boil and also add 1 teaspoon of caraway seeds and 1 teaspoon of salt  into the water. Not into the bouquet garni.

Next, you need to soak some rice. Now, it is so important to use good quality rice. The rice is going to embody the full flavour of the marinated chicken, spices and herbs so it needs to be top-notch. I tend use some good basmati rice. Soak about 1 and a half cups of basmati rice in anything but hot water, for 20 minutes. Think of this as preparing the rice to capture those flavours!

Now we can marinate the chicken to make it succulent and yum! I normally use a whole chicken and cut it myself, but you might not want to do that yourself. You can find pre-cut chicken virtually anywhere – but make sure it’s with the bone, and not boneless. There is so much flavour to chicken on the bone and it almost has a stock-like effect on the biryani. If you can’t stomach chicken on the bone, you can opt for boneless chicken, but really try to buy it on the bone.

You want to place this chicken, along with the following ingredients, into a pan that can go on the stove. The pan needs to be large enough to contain all of the biryani in it; you’re going to cook the whole shabang in this pan. Now with this chicken in the pan, you need to add the following. It may seem like a lot, but it’s so worth it! Add in 2 tablespoons of ginger and garlic paste, 1 tablespoon of red chilli powder, salt according to your taste, 1 cup of thick yoghurt, 1 teaspoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of green cardamom powder, brown (fried and cooled) onions, 4 teaspoons of ghee, 2 tablespoons of freshly chopped coriander, 10-12 mint leaves and finally (!) 2 broken green chillies. A few things about the ingredients just listed – it is vital that the yoghurt is thick. It makes such a difference to the tenderness of the chicken. The onions – that’s optional, but it makes it yummy. Just fry some onions in any oil (except olive oil) until they are very brown. Drain away any excess oil and let it sit to cool down. All the spice powders can be found in most Asian shops. It also adds to the authenticity! Mix the chicken with the listed ingredients until it is well incorporated. Then add 1 teaspoon of turmeric and the juice of one lemon and mix again. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes.

The rest is easy now.

When the water starts boiling (not rapidly, but starting to), add the rice. Keep stirring the rice once you have added it in so it cooks evenly. We only want the rice to be cooked 3/4 of the way, not fully. If we cook it fully, then the biryani will be mushy and soggy. You can tell when the rice is 3/4 cooked by the way it feels. It almost crumbles in your hand when you try to squeeze it. Just take a few grains and see how it feels. Cooking is all about intuition 😉

Once the rice is 3/4 cooked, layer half of it onto the marinated chicken. Don’t worry too much about the water that sneaks in with the rice, it’ll only add moisture. Just try to get rid of as much as you can. On top of the rice, sprinkle coriander, mint, brown onions, garam masala powder, saffron soaked in milk, a little more ghee and green cardamom powder. Then add the rest of the rice on top. Straining the second batch of rice will probably help. You can throw away the bouquet garni; we’ve stolen all its flavour XD

Now put the pan on a medium flame. The lid needs to create an air-tight effect. If the lid of your chosen pan is a little loose, make a simple flour dough (flour and water) and stretch it around the top of your pan and close the lid tight. This should help build up steam and heat within, to add to the moisture of the biryani.

After about 15 minutes, you should see steam escape from the top. This means it’s ready! Once you see this steam, lower the flame and keep it on for another 5-8 minutes.

Ta da! All done. I know, it seems like a lot. But when you actually get to trying it out for yourself, you’ll see how easy it really is!

Until next time, have an awesomesauce day!

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The Liebster Award – my response and…wait, what? I’m breaking the rules?!

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Thank you to Dutch Guyana for nominating me for the Liebster Award! To be honest, I had no idea what the Liebster Award was, so I researched and it sounds quite fun, more than winning itself – so I thought I’d give it a go.

The rules are: publicly thank the person that nominated you; then, tell everyone 11 things about yourself. Answer the 11 questions asked of you, and, in turn, make 11 questions for your own 11 nominees. Link to those 11 nominees, and tell them about it at their blogs.

I might have to break the rules a little. Okay, maybe by quite a lot. Rules are meant to be broken, right? I’m not sure if I know of 11 bloggers who entice me to their blogs – I can hardly keep up with my own! (On that note, sorry for being MIA recently – I’ve been quite busy!) As I was saying, the blogs I follow aren’t really new; they’ve got quite a strong fan-base. So therefore, I’ll tell you 11 things about me, and I’ll answer the questions Dutch Guyana has set for me – but my nominations and questions for the nominees will have to be withheld for a little while until I find new blogs I think deserve to win!

So here are 11 things you may or may not know about me:

1) I’m a female of 21 years of age.

2) The first item of food I ever “cooked” was a boiled egg, at the age of four.

3) I’m studying a biology-related degree, but I’m on a placement at the moment.

4) The person who knows my deepest, darkest secret is my Mum!

5) My real name has 9 letters in it.

6) My favourite colour is white. Red is next.

7) The closest person in the world to me is my sister.

8) I have a fear of needles/anything that pierces the skin and humanoids.

9) I’m double-jointed.

10) I can speak Mandarin-Chinese fluently, as well as read and write.

11) I’m secretly addicted to the Kardashians.

And here are my answers to Dutch Guyana’s questions:

1) Describe yourself in an elevator pitch.

An incredibly crazy “fun-sponge”; mature yet childish, with a weird sense of humour. You’ll never be able to fully understand me.

2) How do you look back on yesterday?

A triumph. Since Saturday, I have had a chalazion on my left eye, that is incredibly painful. Working in a white-washed lab didn’t make it any easier so I’m quite glad I worked well, under the circumstances.

3) What are your plans for tomorrow?

I’ll be heading down to London after work, to see friends and family. Nothing too spectacular otherwise.

4) What will you do today?

Well, today has already finished…nearly. I could tell you what I did today, but it wasn’t fun, so I’ll leave it out.

5) What will bring a smile to your face at the mere mention of it? Is there a story behind that?

Riverside. It’s about 30 seconds from my house, but it’s my most favourite place. And there are a thousand stories relating to it!

6) What will get you angry just by thinking of it? Why?

Hmm, this is a good question. I try to not let things bug me too much nowadays, so off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything. Oh, I know. Ignorance. I severely dislike people who say they do not like/agree with/want something without knowing what it is.

7) Name a documentary that made a big impression on you? Why?

Anything with David Attenborough is pretty much amazing; he has that Morgan Freeman effect with talking about nature. Other than that, I really enjoyed the Food Unwrapped series, on Channel 4. It’s not really a documentary, but it was so interesting. I now know to make sure my tiger prawns have two eyes on them!

8) How would you suggest to end modern-day slavery?

Invent a powdery substance that induces thoughts of sunshine and rainbows into people’s brains, and deposit it into drinking water. By sunshine and rainbows, I mean a dose of happiness, sharing-is-caring-policy and we-are-one theory. In other words, I have no idea.

9) What are your thoughts on ‘world peace’.

There will never be any peace until everyone remembers that we belong to each other. Then again, there would be no peace if it weren’t for conflict.

10) Did you help Nature today? How? Why?

I threw my rubbish in the bin, instead of the floor. Does that count?

11) Do you have a cell phone? If so, what do you use it for?

I do have a mobile phone. I use it to keep in contact with everyone; text, call, social media etc – as well as the odd games here and there. It also comes in handy when I need directions getting somewhere. …oh, technology.

Wahey, all answered! I promise, when I find 11 new bloggers, who should be nominated for the Liebster Award, I’ll follow up another post and let them know, along with my questions!

Also, in response to my absence, I’ll be posting 5 new recipes and also give you an update on my chalazion, once I’m back from London. If the chalazion goes down before the 6 week mark I’ve been given, I’ll share what I did to you all. Sharing is caring! And if it doesn’t, I’ll do a post-surgery post.

Until next time (which will be sooner, rather than later hopefully), have an awesomesauce day!