Saturday, May 4, 2013

"More than just biryani."

There was a time when biryani being prepared in  grandmother and mom's kitchen was a big affair.I am sure you would agree with this! Now making biryani is just like making any other everyday meal, in fact now in case you are not in a mood to spend more time in the kitchen,  then the best alternative is making biryani and while it is being cooked get the yoghurt raita to go with it, Lo and behold!! everyone at the dinner table is happy and enjoy the meal!   It intrigued me to find a little more about this amazing dish called Biryani! It is   believed to have been invented or created in the kitchens of  The Mughals.  . Popularity of biryani has grown world wide however the finest biryani is in the Indian Sub continent and it is an integral part of South Asian cuisine namely Hyderabad, Lucknow, Delhi, Agra, Kashmir, Kolkatta and in Pakistan as well!
Deviating from my usual trend to make the ever popular Hyderabadi Biryani I attempted to make biryani but with a little twist. It turned out very delicious, there were a couple of tips that I followed which made my experiment a huge success! I am very positive you will not be disappointed with your own attempt. Enjoy

Ingredients: For the gravy:
* Keep two wide mouthed pans with fitting lids ready - one for gravy and one for the rice. Sieve to strain the rice.
Mutton/Chicken - 1kg cleaned, cubed and devoid of any traces of fat.
  1. Fried onion : 250 gms (save a handful for garnishing over the top layer of rice)
  2. Potatoes - 2-3 medium size. Peeled, diced and deep fried to a golden brown.
  3. Tomatoes: 3medium size. 2 chopped and 1 sliced.
  4. Yoghurt : 250gms whipped to creamy texture.(save 2tablespoon for later use over the top layer of the rice)
  5. Ginger + garlic paste: 1 tablespoon heaped
  6. Red chilli powder: 2 teaspoon
  7. Salt to taste (salt used for mutton/chicken gravy and also used when boiling rice)
  8. Garam masala powder 1 1/2 teaspoon ( save half a teaspoon for later use during layering of rice) +1teaspoon khorma masala powder.
  9. Papaya paste (2 tablespoon for beef / 1 tablespoon for mutton - papaya paste not required if making with chicken)
  10. Mint + cilantro chopped 1cup heaped + 4-5 green chillies slit (deseed to decrease the heat level)
  11. Oil to cook the gravy: 1/2 cup (additional to fry the potatoes)
  12. Juice of two lemons (save juice of 1 lemon to pour over the rice while layering)
  13. Kewra water + few saffron strands (in 1/4th cup of warm milk soak the saffron strands)  + a pinch or two of orange food color.
  14. Melted butter : 2 tablespoon 
*Khorma masala:  dry roast the following to prepare khorma masala - 1tablespoon each of cumin seeds, aniseed/saunf, caraway/shahzeera. 2 tablespoon of coriander seeds. Add 1/2 teaspoon each of clove/laung, kalimirch/peppercorn, 4-5 green cardamom, 2 black cardamom,2 staraniseed/badiyan ke phool - cool and then grind to a powder, to this add 1 teaspoon of paprika powder, for enhancing the aroma add little bit of mace and nutmeg/jaiphal +javitri - mix well. Store in airtight container. From this use 1teaspoon of the khorma masala.
If you want to avoid going into the hassle of making this in your kitchen then use 11/2 teaspoon of Shaan chicken khorma masala!

Ingredients: For the rice: 
  1. Basmati rice : 750 grams - cleaned, washed and soaked in water for at least 15 -20 minutes.
  2. salt : 2 teaspoon ( safe bet would be to taste the water and it should taste salty)
  3. Water to boil the rice :  a liter and half or a little more.
  4. To add to the water: a few cloves, black peppercorns, 1-2 black cardomom, cinamon stick 1/2inch, bay leaf ( you can use tea infuser to put all the spices together and add to the boiling water)
When starting the preparation, ensure to have all the ingredients ready!
Get the gravy ready first!
  1. Add 1 cup oil to the pan and heat, to the hot oil add the cubed potatoes and fry until golden brown, remove and drain on a paper towel.
  2. Leave half a cup of oil in the pan and remove the excess. Add the crushed fried onions and cook for just about a minute or less (as the onion is already fried and does not require prolonged cooking) add just a little water to avoid getting the onions burnt or overcooked.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and fry, until it turns white i.e 4-5 minutes. (if using mutton then prior to cooking, marinate the mutton with papaya paste and little salt for at least couple of hours.)
  4. Add the ginger + garlic paste, red chilli powder + khorma masala and salt. Fry the mixture 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook covered. The juices from the chicken and tomatoes when cooked covered will help in making the chicken tender and moist, cook until the tomatoes are well blended.
  6. Add the whisked yoghurt and cook until a gravy is formed and the oil floats on top. 
  7. Add all spice/garam masala powder and lemon juice and cook for a minute or two. Switch off the stove.
  8. Add the chopped mint + cilantro and slit green chillies and blend it well. Adding the herbs in the end and blending it with the gravy will ensure the mint and cilantro will not turn black. When the herbs are left just on the top then the heat from the pan and air in the atmosphere will change the color of the herbs. 
Rice preparation:

Bring water to boil in wide mouthed pan, add salt and the spices (it would be a good idea to use tea infuser instead of just adding the spices to the water.)
The best time to add the rice to the water is when the water has just reached boiling point.
Cook the rice until 3/4th done, drain the water using the sieve. Divide in two parts.

Start the layering process:
Important tip:
*In the pan in which the rice were boiled add 2-3tablespoon water, 2teaspoon oil and just a pinch of salt - by doing so it ensures the rice will not burn at the bottom and will have a nice crust.
Make a bed of rice with one portion.
Spread the gravy over the rice, save some gravy oil and a little gravy to be used later.
Arrange the fried potatoes over the gravy. Layer with the sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle a little garam masala.
Arrange the second layer of rice. Over this, on one side sprinkle the fried onion, remainder of the gravy and gravy oil, on the other white side of the rice layer pour the whisked yoghurt with the added food color. Pour the melted butter all around the rice. Add the kewra water - about 1/2 teaspoon and also the saffron strands with milk.
Place the lid, making sure it fits well.
Place the pan on the stove and cook on high heat, as you notice steam has built up then lower the heat to medium and cook for about 10-15 minutes.
To relish this delicacy - serve it hot. Serve it with yoghurt raita.