HYDERABADI DUM CHICKEN BIRYANI
“Hyderabad” fondly known as the” Pearl city” is a city in South Eastern India, is also known for its authentic Deccani cuisine which is a blend of Mughlai & Arabic cuisine.This cuisine emphasizes the use of ingredients that are carefully chosen and cooked to the right degree and time. Utmost attention is given to picking the right kind of spices, meat, rice, etc. Therefore, an addition of a certain herb, spice, condiment, or combination of all these add a distinct taste and aroma.
Perhaps its the changing season from summer to an early fall,perhaps it was the late night movie on the Mughal Emperor, perhaps its the cinnamon scented candles that are slowly finding their way home,perhaps its the string of pearls I stumbled upon in a long forgotten chest,perhaps its the need to be surrounded by the aroma of home…could have been any of these or a combination of these that lead me to create this “signature dish”from the land of the Nizams,all I can say is I’m glad I did,because it sure was “soul food”.I remember visiting this city as a kid , while the grown ups went looking for pearls & diamonds , I was content with a bowl of “Hyderabadi Biryani” such were the treasures hidden in this dish,that lured the taste buds of the young heart & the memory lingers on….Food is always associated with memories they say, I just have to open my spice box to write a book.Hoping the rich aroma that wafts through my home fills your homes & hearts too.Enjoy,this authentic dish and the rich flavors of the cuisine the Nizams of Hyderabad ( ‘Hyder’ means lion or ruler in Persian,’abad’ means abode or city) left behind as a heritage to those of us who love spicy food.
Chicken- 1 whole( cut into desired size)
Onions- 1 big( finely sliced)
Cumin seeds/Jeera- 1 tsp
Peppercorns- 1 tbsp
Green chilies- 6-8 ( finely slit)
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Chili powder- 1 tsp( adjust according to taste)
Coriander powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Mint leaves- a bunch
Cilantro/Coriander leaves- a bunch
Lemon juice-2 tsp
Salt- to taste
Yogurt- 3/4 cup
For the Rice:
Basmati Rice- 2 cups
Oil/Ghee- 3 tbsp
Water- 4 cups
Bay leaves- 1-2
Milk- 3 tbsp mixed with Saffron
Cilantro or mint leaves- for sprinkling on top
There are two authentic ways of making this Hyderabadi Biryani, one is the” Kachchi type” where the meat is marinated overnight with the spices & then yogurt is added & then this chicken is sandwiched between long grains of fragrant basmati rice( the method I used today) the other being the “Pakki type” where the marinating time is shorter and the meat is cooked before being layered with rice.
If one wants to do it the Kachchi Biryani way, make sure you marinate the chicken overnight, before blending it with rice to prepare the biryani.
1.In a thick bottomed vessel, heat oil/ghee and then when its warm add the finely sliced onions & sauté it till they turn golden brown.
2.The chicken needs to be marinated with the blended spice mix overnight, and adding yogurt to the mix an hour before you cook the Biryani.
3.Now add the marinated spicy chicken along with yogurt & the rest of the powders,mint & cilantro leaves, lemon juice & salt to taste & let it cook for 5-7 minutes.Set aside.
4.Mean while in another vessel cook the rice (which has been soaked for an hour beforehand) with the required water and the spices & a little oil.Here oil is added to prevent rice from sticking to each other.When the rice is partially cooked , switch off the heat & drain the rice on a wide colander to let the water run & cool the rice,This prevents rice from clumping together.
5.Now transfer the chicken little by little into a thick bottomed vessel sandwiching it between the fragrant basmathi rice .When the layering of chicken & basmathi rice is complete,sprinkle the saffron mixed warm milk on top of the rice & gently close the lid.The “dum” part is where a heavy weight is placed on the lid along with burning coal & the lid is sealed with chapati dough so the steam that comes out of the rice when cooked for a few minutes would complete the procedure of flavoring the rice with the rich aromas of the spices.Since I did not have burning coal, I placed the vessel which was sealed with dough on the gas stove on simmer for 10- 15 minutes after placing a heavy object on top of the vessel,for additional cooking, I also sealed the lid with an aluminum foil….this helped cook the chicken & the rice to the required consistency & the result…..a spicy aroma filled home ,satisfied smiles, worth the effort!
Enjoy your Hyderabadi biryani & feast like a king smile emoticon