25 September 2010

54: Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani and Mirchi ka Salan

My sweetie's best buddy is in town for the weekend. Decided to treat the guys to some authentic Hyderabadi food. Anyone who has been to Hyderabad, will definitely talk to you about the "Paradise" Biryani. And anyone who has tasted it knows that it leaves an indelible mark on you forever. It is by far the yummiest biryani and something that I have always missed after I left Hyderabad, India. The interesting fact about this, is that it is so unique to Hyderabad, that I have never had a similar biryani anywhere outside of Hyderabad and people who not from there do not realize how special this biryani is :)

This is my third attempt at making biryani. The first time was a total disaster. The second attempt was good, but I knew i could definitely improve it. I think I nailed it in the third attempt! It was near perfect...the guys loved it...and I couldn't be happier....

I always thought that making Hyderabadi biryani was really complicated. But not really, it is one of the easier recipes I have tried. A little bit of nurturing and patience is all that is needed and similar to baking follow the recipe to the T.

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani:

For the Marinade,
1 1/2 lbs chicken (I used a mix of chicken legs and boneless breast pieces)
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
2 green chillies, chopped
1 Tbsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 cup fried onions (use the store bought version or fry thinly sliced onions to a golden brown at home; I have used both and the taste is good; make sure that you don't burn the onions though)
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 cinammon sticks (half a finger length)
5-6 green cardamom
2-3 black cardamom
5-6 cloves
2-3 bay leaves
1 whole mace
11/2 cups yogurt
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 Tbsp cumin powder
2 Tbsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp cayenne powder
salt to taste
1/2 cup cooking oil

For the rice,
2-1/2 cups Basmati long grained rice
2 tsp saffron
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves
1/2 cup fried onions
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 cloves
Salt to taste

Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients specified. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour. (I marinated it overnight). Wash and soak 2 cups of rice in water and soak the remaining 1/2 cup rice in saffron water. Let the rice soak for 30 minutes. In the meantime, heat water in a wide bottom and deep vessel. I used a large pressure cooker I had. Once the water starts boiling, add the cumin seeds and cloves and a little oil. And add salt. Make sure you taste the water to check if the water is salty enough. We will cook the rice in this water, so it should have enough salt to give the rice a some salty flavor. Now add the entire rice to the boiling water and cook for 3-5 minutes. You want the rice to be half cooked. This is extremely important, as you don't want you rice to turn mushy. Stay by the side and check to see if the rice is half done. As soon as you think it is half done, drain the hot water. In the same large bottom, deep vessel, add some oil and add the marinated chicken. then add half the rice and layer with some chopped mint, coriander and fried onions. Add the remaining rice and add another layer of chopped mint, coriander and fried onions. Mix 1 tsp saffron in water and add over the top. I also added a Tbsp of oil over the top. Now dampen a clean cotton cloth and cover the dish and place a lid over this cloth. The idea is to seal the dish and not let any steam escape. For the first five minutes cook at medium heat and then turn the heat to low and let it cook for 30 minutes.And the Biryani is ready!

Biryani always goes well with a side of Mirchi ka Salan.

For this you will need,
1 cup peanuts
1Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup grated coconut
2 dry red chillies
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp methi seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder (hing powder) 
8-10 curry leaves
1/2 onion finely chopped
1 Tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 Tbsp cumin powder
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 Tbsp cayenne powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
1/2 cup yogurt
5 large green chillies

Dry roast the peanuts, sesame seeds and coconut. After they are browned grind with some water and make a fine paste. Heat oil in a pan and fry the dry red chillies and mustard seeds. After the mustard seeds sputter, add the methi and the asafoetida powder. Add onions and fry until golden brown. Add curry leaves and ginger garlic paste. Fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, cayenne powder, turmeric and salt. Mix well and add 1-1/2 cup water and let it come to a boil. Add the yogurt and mix well. Bring it to a boil and add the ground peanut paste. Let this mix come to boil and allow to cook for 10 minutes so that the peanut is cooked well. In the meantime, clean the green chillies, leave the stalk on and slit the chillies and clean the inside. Add these green chillies to the salan and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve the biryani with the mirchi ka salan.

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