Biryani is primarily a rice dish layered with meat originating from the Mughals of the Indian Subcontinent. Marinated or cooked meat is layered with par-boiled rice and left on ‘Dam’, a method of cooking in which food is cooked on a very low flame in a sealed pot.
Like every dish, Biryani also has several variations. There is variation in the type of meat used; chicken, beef, mutton, prawn and fish are all common proteins used in Biryani. Vegetarian biryanis feature spiced vegetables like potatoes, peas, carrots amongst others. Biryani recipes differ from region to region, offering specialities like Sindhi Biryani, Memoni Biryani, Karachi Biryani, Bombay Biryani and the like.
Hyderabadi Biryani also known as ‘Kachay Gosht ki Biryani’ (Raw meat Biryani) or Dam Biryani (Slow cooked Biryani) is a spectacular mild-spiced biryani. Most Biryani recipes call for cooked meat layered with 90% cooked rice and then put on dam for 10-20 minutes. Dam Biryani on the other hand is layered with raw meat (usually chicken or mutton) marinated in yogurt and par-boiled rice, then left to cook on a medium to low flame in a heavy bottom sealed pot for 45 minutes to an hour. This results in an exceptionally fragrant and aromatic Biryani.
My Chicken Dam Biryani recipe is easy to follow and fail proof. Every person who has eaten this biryani, fell in love with it after just a spoonful. It is one of my most requested recipes and features on our dinner menu at least once if not twice every fortnight. I have never tried it with Mutton, but I am sure it will be just as exceptional.
- Bone-in Chicken 600g; cut into pieces
- Basmati Rice 250g
- Greek Yogurt 400g
- Fried Onions 1 cup
- Ginger Paste 1 tbsp
- Garlic Paste 1 tbsp
- Green Chillies 4-6; depending on preferred spice level
- Green Coriander 1 cup; finely chopped
- Mint Leaves 1/2 cup; finely chopped
- Green Cardamom 10; divided
- Cloves 8; divided
- Cinnamon 2″ piece
- Black Cardamom 5
- Star Anise 2
- Peppercorns 10
- Bay Leaves 2
- Ghee 3 tbsp
- Biryani Masala 3 tbsp
- Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
- Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp (omit if you prefer mild spices)
- Orange Food Color 1/2 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Cooking oil 1/4 cup
- Potatoes 2; cut into quarters and pan fried with a pinch of food color
Marinate chicken in yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, biryani masala, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, green chillies and salt. Add half quantities of the whole spices (green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black cardamom star anise, bay leaves and pepper corns) to the marinade. Mix 1/3 of the chopped mint and coriander leaves. Allow the meat to marinate for 30 minutes or if possible over night.
Wash rice until the water is no longer cloudy. In a bowl soak rice with enough water so that the rice is fully submerged for 15 minutes and discard water afterwards. In the mean time heat water (triple the amount of rice) in a large pot. Add the remaining whole spices, 3 tsp salt and ghee to the boiling water. Allow water to boil for 10-15 minutes and then discard the whole spices with the help of a slotted spoon.
Now add the soaked rice to boiling water and cook until rice are 60-70% done, approximately 5 minutes. Note: The water should be at a roaring boil when you add rice. Strain rice in a colander.
Pour 1/4 cup of oil in a heavy bottomed pot. Add all the marinated chicken, potatoes, a handful of fried onions and chopped greens. Top chicken with a layer of half of the par-boiled rice. Sprinkle some more fried onions and greens between the layers and top with remaining rice. Spread the leftover fried onions and chopped greens on top. Dissolve food colour in 1 tbsp of water and pour in a spiral pattern on top of the rice. Seal the pot with a secure lid. Note: Ensure the layering is complete whilst the rice is still steaming hot. If all the steam is lost it cooking time will be affected.
Place the pot on medium heat for 20-25 minutes then reduce heat to lowest setting and cook for another 20-25 minutes. Avoid opening the pot at all costs before the cooking is complete. Transfer rice onto a serving platter vertically so you get equal amounts or rice and chicken or simply mix the chicken and rice layers carefully so that the rice do not break and then transfer to a serving dish. Serve hot with Raita and/or a salad.
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