My better half wanted Chicken Biryani for his birthday this year so this was my very first attempt at cooking any rice related dish, Ever! I spent many nights searching for recipes as there were different ways of preparing this dish. After some reading, I decided to try what they call the Chicken Dum Biryani (Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani; Kachi method).

CHICKEN DUM BIRYANI – INGREDIENTS & METHOD

This method involves layering marinated chicken and partially cooked rice in a casserole, and letting the steam from inside the pot do the cooking. This dish is extremely aromatic, my whole house smelled so good that night!

I chose to brine the chicken for about 2 hours before marination as I read that this step would make the chicken more tender and juicy, so I went for it.

OPTIONAL: BRINE THE CHICKEN (1 – 2 hours)

Ingredients:

  • 500g chicken
  • 3 tbs yogurt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water – adjust

Method:- Mix yogurt to water and add the remaining ingredients together. Let the chicken rest for about 2 hours. 

While I brine the chicken, I prepared the ingredients needed to marinate the chicken and fried some onions for the marination process.

A) CHICKEN MARINATION – To marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Ingredients for Chicken Marination:-

  • 500g chicken
  • 2- 3 medium sized onions, sliced and fried until medium brown with ghee or oil
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1.5 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 green chillis, slit into half
  • 1 tsp biryani masala*
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp corriander powder
  • 1 TBS ghee
  • 1.5 TBS garlic ginger paste
  • Salt to taste – about 2 tsp, adjust
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 – 2 TBS lemon juice
  • Handful of coriander leaves
  • Handful of mint leaves
  • Rose/Kewra water

Note – *Biryani masala is something you can make on your own, I left this out but I would probably buy it off the shelf next time, just to see the kind of flavour it would add to the dish. I’ve seen some recipes sprinkling briyani masala on the rice during the layering process too. There were also some who added spices such as cardamoms or cloves when marinating the chicken. I didn’t, not this time at least. I couldn’t find rose water so have opted that out too.

Marination method:-

  1. Slice the onions and fry them in ghee or oil until brown. Set aside.
  2. Add all the dry ingredients to chicken and mix well.
  3. Add garlic ginger paste, ghee and green chillis to chicken and mix.
  4. Then add all the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  5. Leave to marinate for at least 2 hours.

 

B) RICE PREPARATIONPartially cooked rice

Ingredients for Rice:-

  • 1.5 cups of basmathi rice (long grain rice) – Rinse well & soak for 30 – 40 minutes.
  • 1-2 black cardamoms – I couldn’t find these
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 5 – 6 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 large bay leaf (2 if small)
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick (about 3 inch)
  • 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 tsp carraway seeds
  • 1 tsp ghee (or oil if you really can’t find ghee)
  • 1 TBS lemon juice
  • 3 tsp salt (or more) – adjust this as the water needs to be salty
  • About 5 cups of water – adjust
  • 1 TBS rose water/kewra water (optional) – I didnt have these

Preparation method (rice):-

  1. Rinse rice well & soak for 30 – 40 minutes.
  2. Heat water & salt, make sure the water is salty.
  3. Add ghee (or oil if you don’t have ghee) and all of the dry spices to salt water and let it boil rapidly or until aroma is released. If you don’t like biting into these dry spices later, you may tie up the dry spices (except maybe the caraway seeds) into a muslin or cheese cloth before adding it to water.
  4. Add rice to boiling water and do not stir too much as rice was soaked earlier. This is to prevent the rice from breaking. Cook rice until it is “dancing” and make sure that it is not more than 75% cooked. Keep checking your rice to avoid overcooking.
  5. Add lemon juice & rose water/kewra water (optional).
  6. Drain rice from water and rinse with cold water if rice is more than 75% cooked to stop it from cooking further. You do not need to over drain the rice, it is okay to leave it wet and moist.
  7. Optional – Some would pour melted ghee on rice while some would add tumeric powder to rice for colour. I didn’t do this, not this time at least.

 

C) LAYERING THE DISH

Ingredients for layering/garnish:-

  • 3 – 4 medium sized onions, fried until brown
  • Some saffron soaked in 2 – 3 TBS hot milk
  • 2 – 3 TBS melted ghee (you could use melted ghee or oil from the fried onions)
  • Handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • Handful of chopped mint leaves
  • Cashew nuts if you like, but fry this with ghee first
  • Optional: Biryani masala powder/ tumeric powder to sprinkle on rice while layering, raisins as garnish and a dash of rose water for some fragrance.

Layering method:-

  1. Add some friend onions, green chillis, coriander leaves, mint leaves, melted ghee to the marinated chicken and mix well. Transfer the marinated chicken into a thick-bottom casserole and layer it evenly at the bottom of the pot. 
  2. Layer the rice evenly on top of the marinated chicken and sprinkle with fried onions, coriander leaves and mint leaves.
  3. Repeat step 2 and add saffron milk, melted ghee, cashew nuts and raisins if you like. You may also add a dash of rose water/kewra water here.
  4. Cover the casserole with a foil or damped cloth if you do not have a tight lid pot. Ensure the lid is tight and the air is trapped so that the dish is cooked and infused with its own steam.

 

Now here comes the hardest part – Making sure the chicken and rice is properly cooked in a casserole that is not see-through! What was I thinking.

You are suppose to leave the dish on medium heat for about 15 – 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to low for about 10 – 15 minutes. You then switch off the heat and leave for another 20 – 30 minutes. Before you scroll down to look at the pictures let me tell you that I burnt half of my chicken and some of my chicken bones were stuck to the bottom of the pot. I couldn’t even scrape the bones off.

So I read more about this and found out that you would need a really thick bottom casserole/ pot for this and if possible, transfer the casserole to what they call a Tawa when reducing the heat to low. You would need to adjust cooking time based on the type, size and thickness of your casserole.

I tried this recipe again in the same pot – low medium heat for 10 minutes, low heat on a flat pan for another 10 minutes and I left it on the hot pan for about 30 minutes. I did not burn my pot the second time around. Phew!

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Soak rice for 30 – 40 mins
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Sliced onions, chopped coriander and mint leaves
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Add dry spices and ghee to salted water. Boil until aroma is released.
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Add rice to boiling water stirring only occasionally.
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Rice would be about 50% cooked once it starts “dancing”. Keep checking and make sure it is not more than 75% cooked.
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Drain rice under cold running water if need to and remove all spice from rice if you like.
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Fry the sliced onions
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Fry the sliced onions until brown
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Fried onions (and the spices I removed from the rice)
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My marinated chicken – after 2 hours
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Saffron with hot milk
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Layer marinated chicken evenly at the bottom of the pot
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Layer with rice – this is the second (top) layer of rice
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Add fried onions, coriander leaves, mint leaves, saffron milk and melted ghee
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I didn’t have a tight lid 😛
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After 15 mins of medium heat, 10 mins of low heat and 30 mins of rest in the pot.
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My chicken was burnt but rice perfectly cooked
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There goes my pot
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Rice was perfectly cooked but totally unsalted. Recipe above have been adjusted for this!

So my first tryout didn’t turn out the way I had hope it would. I didn’t expect the pot to burn the way it did at all! There wasn’t much chicken left but the rice was perfectly cooked although it needed alot more salt!

I had a second go at this recipe and will write about it soon. I didn’t burn my pot the second time around but I am eager to try it one more time so that my third will taste better than my second 🙂

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