Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Hyderabadi Delight

Sid’s all-time favorite dish is Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani. And no, no other Biryani anywhere on earth can match up to the authentic Hyderabad flavours served only in that city and accompanied by the unique Mirchi ka Saalan. That is one combination that I have never managed to find anywhere else. Not even in Mumbai which boasts of quite a few Hyderabadi joints. Usually the Biryani here is heavy on saffron, has strange dry fruits added, and the owners have no clue what ”Saalan” is.

Every time we would go to Hyd to my in-laws place, we would pick up family packs of Hyderabad House Biryani which Sid would promptly polish off all by himself! Yeah, his sharing. Caring nature definitely doesn’t extend to sharing his biryani! Now that Sid is away in Chandigarh on work for a month, he has been missing home cooked food a lot. He might be Punjabi, but it seems his love for authentic Punju food does have a threshold!

Anyway, last Sunday his work partner and my good friend G came down from Chandigarh for a couple of days and I decided to make some of his favorite Biryani and send it through her. So this is my version of Hyderabadi Biryani sans the overdose of saffron and coriander. And for anyone who has eaten in Hyderabad, I assure you this comes quite close to the Chicken Biryani served at the ever-popular Hyderabad House and Paradise.

Chicken – 4 large pieces
Basmati Rice (long grained) – 2 cups
Onions – sliced - 3 large
Bay leaves – 3
Ghee (Clarified Butter) – 3 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Saffron (Kesar) – ¼ tsp
Coconut milk – ½ cup
Red food colouring (optional) – 1 pinch

Dry roast and grind the following spices:
Cinnamon – 1 inch stick
Cloves – 4 to 5
Star Anise - 2
Cardamom - 3
Peppercorns – 1 tsp
Mace - 1

For the marinade:
Ginger garlic paste – 1 ½ tsp
Curd – 3 tbsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Dry Roasted and ground spice powder – 1 tsp
Coconut milk – 2 tbsp

In a small pan heat all the spices for the dry roast till they start giving out their inimitable spicy smell. Grind them into a fine powder. Wash and clean the chicken pieces and make diagonal slits in the flesh for the marinade to seep in. Now add all the marinade ingredients including the dry roasted and powdered spice mix and rub them into the chicken pieces well. Refrigerate overnight or for 6-8 hours at least.

In 2 tbsp of ghee, fry the sliced onions until brown with some salt and a bay leaf. Set aside.
Transfer the marinated chicken into a large heavy bottomed non-stick pan with ½ tbsp of ghee, cover and let it cook for 10-12min till jus about done. Turn over the pieces after 5min. Take off the flame while the chicken is still underdone.

Meanwhile, wash 2 cups of Basmati rice, add 6 cups of water, 1 tsp salt and 2 bay leaves and cook in an open vessel. Keep stirring the rice so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the vessel. When the rice is parboiled (partially cooked), switch off the flame and drain. Take out 2 tbsp of the partially cooked rice and mix in the saffron with milk/water. You can also use red food colouring along with the saffron. Keep this yellow/orange-coloured rice aside.

Now transfer the half-cooked chicken pieces onto a plate and in the same deep-bottomed pan start layering the biryani. Begin with half the parboiled rice at the bottom, then 2 pieces of chicken, then sprinkle half of the coloured rice, and then some of the fried onions. Then layer again with the remaining parboiled rice, followed by another 2 pieces of chicken, remaining coloured rice and top with all the fried onions. Now drizzle 1 ½ tbsp of ghee along the sides and pour the coconut milk on top. Cover the pan with a well-fitting lid and seal it on all sides by covering it with aata (dough) or a wet cloth and cook on a low flame for 15-20min. Keep shaking the pan every 5 min and make sure you keep moving it so that the flame is not centered in just one area. The idea is for the biryani to get cooked evenly on all sides. So every 5 min, change the position of the pan and give it a good toss without displacing the aata/wet cloth.

By now you should be able to smell the typical biryani fragrance wafting out. Turn off the flame and keep the pan covered. Garnish with a sprig of coriander and serve hot with some Raita or Mirchi ka Saalan.

And yes, Sid called me the next day raving about the biryani and claiming it was outstanding :) So I think the hours I spent sweating it out in the kitchen were kind of worth it!


oneshortone said...

Waah :)
Gotta try this

Smruti said...

Looks yummy! Your best food photo so far.

I want Mirchi ka Salan recipe too...

Swati said...

@saurabh - u must. am sure u will like it.
@smruti - i know! :) mirchi ka saalan i have to try next time.

RV said...

This looks out of the world Swathi and it is our favorite too.

notyet100 said...

wow will try ur version soon,..:-)