Chicken Biryani Fiesta

imageBiryani, biriani, biriyani, buriyani, beryani or beriani  is a rice-based dish made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and chicken, mutton, fish, eggs, or vegetables.   The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) (بریان) which means “fried” or “roasted”.   It was brought to India by Muslim travellers and merchants from Persia. It is one of the most famous dish in the kitchen of the Mughal Emperors. It is very popular in South Asia and is a key element of the South Asian cuisine. Hyderabad, Malabar, Delhi/Agra, Dhaka, Kashmir, Kolkata, Lucknow and Lahore, are the main centers of biryani cuisine.

The spices and condiments used in biryani may include, but are not limited to, ghee (clarified butter), nutmeg, mace, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. The premium varieties include saffron.  Saffron’s aroma is often described by connoisseurs as reminiscent of metallic honey with grassy or hay-like notes, while its taste has also been noted as hay-like and sweet. It also contributes a luminous yellow-orange coloring to foods and is widely used in Indian, Persian, European, Arab, and Turkish cuisines.

For a non-vegetarian biryani, the main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat—beef, chicken, goat, lamb, fish or shrimp. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or Raita, korma, curry, a sour dish of eggplant (brinjal), boiled egg and salad.

The preparation of biryani is complex and a bit difficult, however, this version is so simple and very delicious.  It is fantastic with a cucumber raita and a squeeze of lemon, cooling off the heat ( when you prefer  chili biryani by adding the chili mentioned above) while adding a fresh zing that brightens all the spices in the dish. The ingredients below might look intimidating at first glance, but there’s nothing all that exotic on the list and it all comes together in about an hour or so of cooking time.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups soaked rice
  • 3 tbsp.  ghee
  • 4 onions, shredded
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 pods green cardamoms
  • 3 pods black cardamoms
  • 3 tbsp.  grated ginger
  • 3 tbsp.  grated garlic
  • 2 green chili, chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 bunch mint, chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 67 gm (1/2 pack) tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt (adjust according to taste)

Steps in Preparing Biryani:

  1. Half-boil the rice with water and salt.
  2. Saute onion with ghee in a saucepan, then add cinnamon, cardamoms, ginger, garlic, chili, mint and coriander.         Mix well.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients except rice and and cook on a medium heat for 20-25 minutes with lid on.
  4. Add the rice and cook on a gentle heat for 40 minutes with lid on.
  5. Serve warm with green salad or cucumber raita.

For cucumber raita

  • 1 cup cucumber peeled, seeded and shredded
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp cilantro minced
  • 1 tbsp mint minced
  •  1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of ground black pepper

Enjoy your meal!

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