Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dum Maro Dum......

He! He! Sorry about the really cheesy title, could not think of a better one to go with "Dum".

This story goes a long way back, 17 years to be precise. My sister gifted me a rice cooker for my wedding(sis, the same one is still going strong- thank you). The rice cooker( my savior) came along with an instruction manual and a cookbook. Come to think of it that was my first cookbook and only cookbook for a long time. It had an interesting Biryani recipe which I managed to perfect after a few attempts. I loved making Biryani, the Khila Khila Basmati, the kesar flavoring and colour, the aroma of whole spices, the subtle combination of ingredients- only a hint of this and a whiff of that. But above all what I liked best about making Biryani was that post the initial preparatory work the Biryani cooked on its own. Left me free to clear up, get the starters ready etc. etc. Being a one dish meal it also ensured that there were fewer dirty dishes at the end of the meal.

Somewhere along the line I stopped making Biryani. A lot of us stopped eating rice especially at night(typically guests came for dinner), oil/ghee gave way to no oil/low oil cooking. It is still a convenient option and I order in when we have a large number of guests.

About a week back I watched Biryani being prepared on one of the cookery shows. It rekindled my interest in the once popular family dish. I made it yesterday and served it with a basic raita. The men loved it and wolfed almost all of it down. Older one wanted the little bit that was leftover for breakfast today. Me happy.

Looks like Biryani has managed a successful re-entry into the household even if that means 10 extra laps in the pool or 5 more surya namaskars. Given the overwhelming response I think the dish is here to stay and before long I will have the boys asking for it to be made again.

Dum Murgh Ki Kachi Biryani


Biryani though really simple to prepare needs a long list of ingredients and tons of patience. If you are looking for a quick fix try making a pulao and add some Biryani masala to it.

Basmati rice: 2 cups, choose from the premium range to get really long grained rice. I tried Arise, Saffold Gold- nice, long grained khila khila rice just as the ad promised.
Chicken: 1.5 kg, ask your butcher to cut into large pieces, about 6/8 pieces from a kilo
Onions: 6 medium sized ones, sliced fine
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Chilli powder: 1 tsp
Garam Masala powder: Roast some green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, clove and grind to a coarse powder. If you were me you would just add some Roopak Biryani Masala, really good.
Whole spices: Cloves, cinnamon, green cardamom
Lime juice: 1 to 2 tbsp( so about half a lime)
Saffron: a few strands( now this is an expensive ingredient but a key to getting the flavor right)
Milk: 1 cup
Curd: 1.5 cups( If using home made curd, strain the water out using a muslin cloth)
Ghee: 2 tbsps
Oil: 2 tbsps
Ginger garlic paste: 2tbsps
Green corriander: 2 tbsps, chopped fine
Green chillies: 2 tbsps, chopped fine


The preparation needs to begin a couple of hours before.

Start by preparing the marinade. To the curd add the ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala powder, salt.

Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and mix really well. Use your hands as the marinade needs to coat all the individual chicken pieces . Let the chicken rest in the refrigerator for a few hours. I would suggest you leave it there for at least four hours.

When ready to start making the Biryani heat the oil in a pan and fry the sliced onions till they turn a dark brown. Chop them fine and add half of the fried onions to the marinated chicken. Leave it for about 30 minutes.

Cook the rice with the whole spices. Drain out the water once the rice is half cooked. Keep aside.

Heat the ghee in a deep bottomed flat pan, add the chicken and cook till the chicken is half done. Arrange into a layer. Sprinkle some finely chopped corriander and some green chillies over it.

Add the rice over it to form a second layer.

Dissolve the saffron strands in some warm milk and spoon over the rice.

Squeeze some lime juice over the rice.

Garnish with the remaining fried onions.

Cover the pan and seal with some atta dough or aluminium foil. Helps retain the flavors and keeps the chicken pieces succulent.

Let the Biryani cook for about 45 minutes on low flame.

Once done open the lid and let the flavors do the talking.

Serve hot with a raita.

Thank the Mughals and savor every bite.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!