We had been having guests come over during the last few weekends in a row now..and ask my husband about the menu, he is like..." biriyani and the brinjal chuntey (that will come sometime later).....stays. Rest, up to you." Coz, this was something that his wifey gets really appreciated for.
Well, yes...think i can do this right, by now. Have been making this "well appreciated" biriyani for years..but....have never made an attempt to write about it on my blog. Not that i keep secrets and don't want to reveal any hidden ingredients ..no...nothing like that. Trust me, to all honestly, its just that.. i don't have any standard recipe. Sachee ! I just go by the instincts. Yet..yet..yes, there are certain "never miss" steps that i very strictly adhear to. And that, is definitely getting shared here.
(By the way, for a person who is very new to this really flavourful, Indian one pot meal called "The Biriyani", this post will be very incomplete. I am not going in for the detailed cooking and recipe in here...coz, as I said, i don't stick to one ..neither do i use any standard masala powder (whatever is available at that moment, goes in)..but don't you worry. I can always refer you to this particular blog site which i really really liked, during my first attempt in food blogging, about 5 years back. She was a very active blogger then. Her writeups were very detailed, i enjoyed reading her posts as she always used to go back to her past. But..now..that blog is almost dead by now. Last post was made in 2011. She had a baby and think got really carried away by it. Anyways, sure she will have no clue that there is this woman here, who still cherish her deeply as a very close co-blogger. We both are from Kerala and have never ever met..yet..we were good virtual friends. Will give the link to it at the end of this post..and now..let me get back to where i was)
What's that i very closely stick on to?
But...which one? there's way too many, out there.
Well..the writer's choice AWARD goes to the one on the left. The longer ones. The more longer..the more preferred it is.
Cooking the rice : You do it two ways. Either, cook the soaked basmati rice in large quantity of water with some spices and when almost done, you drain off the excess water. Well..thats how even most professional cooks do..but for me...well..I DON'T.
I personally prefer to cook the rice in slight less than double the quantity of rice to water and let the rice drink up all of the liquid till done. There is no strainig off the water in here. That is, if taking 5 cups of rice, i then go for not 10, but 9 cups of boiled water.
.....you necessarily don't have to do that !!!
* In a heavy bottom pan, add some FAT (ghee/butter), slightly roast the required spices - cinamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper, cumins, bayleaves, star anise.
* Now add the soaked and drained rice and slightly fry in the same FAT, and then add in boiled water in proportion as mentioned.
* Do not miss out on salt at this stage, else the rice goes real bland and some lime-juice too to keep the rice from sticking to each other.
* Once cooked, keeping the flame real low and the rice cooking bowl uncovered half way through, now let the rice to cool thoroughly. I do this by spreading the rice in thin layer on large flat plates or trays. This will help the rice grains to separate and note...cooked basmathi rice is to be HANDLED WITH CARE !. Do not showel it around. Use a fork, and only the fork.
Colouring the sketch..(read it as rice). Take a small quantity of the cooled rice in two separate bowls.
Add saffron to one for the yellow colour. You can also use yellow food colour if the former is not available.
To the second bowl, add few drops of red food colour (even lesser portion of rice than the yellow) - you just need a touch of red here and there for the "attraction"factor.
Cook the chicken as per the recipe (shared at the end of this post) but THE NEVER MISS STEP.
Soak about 10-15 cashewnuts in hot water for a few minutes and then grind it thoroughly, with yougurt. Other recipes asks for almonds, poppy seeds etc to be ground....upto you, but I just stick to this. This sauce does make the curry rich, creamy and brings in the right consistency.
3. Get ready with the miscellaneous items:
* Raisins and cashewnuts fried in ghee
* Fried onions
* Coriander and mint leaves (just a few) - cut small.
* Pineapple cut to small pieces
* Rose water
* Pineapple essence
* Melted ghee or butter
4. Layering the Biriyani
Bring together all at one place - the rice, chicken and all those in item 3 above. I usually go for such disposable deep aluminum trays......
..... but this time, for a change, tried using a bundt cake bowl !
Greese the sides of the bowl using melted butter or ghee.
Add in few of the fried onions, cashewnuts and raisins.
Fill it less than halfway with the rice. And its optional for you to add small pieces of pineapples. .if you like. I ....personally, very much.....like to have it in there. Most biriyani recipes do not call for pineapples, but in certain parts of our state, kerala...they do use it.
Top it with coloured rice (the yellow and red), roasted garnishing items, coriander and mint leaves, few drops of rose water and pineapple essence. (this essence stuff is my next personal addition ) I am still in search for THAT lovely aroma ..but...yet to have something to be content with. Till then, this essence will do.
Now, this is the consistency that is am speaking about. Another "never miss" while making biriyani.
The gravey should neither be too loose, nor too thick. Just right enough to coat the chicken pieces and of course, the rice that covers the pieces. We call that the "masala rice". It has the best flavours, being in close proximity to the meat while getting dummed.
Secondly, keep the salt content of the chicken to the higher side. It should be extra salty. Do not worry, getting mixed with the rice, it gets balanced out.
Fill the bowl again with the rice - plain and coloured, the garnishings, essence, rose water.
Add in little bit of melted butter or ghee in between the layers.
An now..it time for
aabra-kababra.....hokus-pokus......gili gili gili....
I believe, the best part of making biriyani is the transformation that happens once it moves into the oven. Got no clue what goes on in there...but, it definitely taste way different after its baked.
Cover tightly the set bowl with aluminium foil..and move it into the.....
Preheat the oven to well..again...i will be honest..i don't keep any set temperature. I start of preheating at 150 deg C..later half way through reduce to 120, and again slightly less;further down the lane. But, it stays in there definitely not less than one and a half hours.
In the above picture of the layered rice..you see..its just plain...that's how it goes into the MAGIC OVEN. But, once out...
its bright and colourful !
Doing this in the bundt cake bowl, I had just one layer of the chicken. But with the deeper foil tray...we can go in for 2 layers and the same steps repeated.
Garnish with few more coriander leaf cuts to bring in the contrast ..yellow, reds and greens.
Clicked, straight from the oven...just before it got served to the guests.
And now..for the worst part of making this .
Well..its just a hit yeah miss. You definitely can't be doing any test-tasting before the guests do. With the above setting done in the bundt style, you do invert it onto the serving plate. But, done in the foil tray..it goes exactly like that, straight from the oven to the dining table, unopened. The best part is opening it when all are around the table and the aroma goes stright into their nostrils. The expression on their faces are the only way to determine if its fine, yeah.. flop.
Till now, i have had just one "flop-show" doing this, and that was when, I had purchased the meat myself (mutton) unlike all other times, it would be my husband doing it. And here, we just have to be really cautious especially with mutton, coz there are too many breeds from various countries and some can stink really bad! We have to strictly stick to fresh indian mutton here. And that day..well..i saw this "Newzealand" brand and was like..its the Kiwi's..should be better than Indian(yeah! it was too folish of me). And God! it stinked like hell once cooked. I was definitely unpleased with the outcome. That's what happens if you consider your home products inferior to the outsiders :(. A lesson learnt.
Phew !! one big post !!!
and before I sign off...
this is the link with the detailed writeup on making biriyani from scratch...the rice and the chicken recipe in here.
I deeply wish, she gets back to blogging.
And again..you are most welcome to use any recipe that suits you. There are scores, in the net. Give a search in google, and..that's what you see.