Monday, 25 June 2012

Malabar chicken biryani

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I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I love biryani, in any form that is. Even if its a horrible one, I can pretty much enjoy it with gusto which actually doesn't make me the best judge of a biryani, but surely I can say the difference between a good one and a bad :)

I have been wanting to make a Thalassery/ Malabar biryani for a long time now, and last weekend I was finally able to do so. Thanks to experts from the region, like Shab, a quick text to her and she gave me detailed instructions as to how to go about it. I am very pleased with the way the biryani turned out and like I mentioned before, I am a sucker for any kind of biryani and this was no different. If you insist I still give you a verdict, I'd say I prefer biryani's with some more masala and such, unlike this one which uses very little of the masala's. I understand that in the authentic Thalassery biryani, the only masala used is the special garam masala mix and nothing else, which is also the reason behind the biryani colour I suppose (did I just comment on the biryani colour?????). Also a special type of rice called the Jeerakashaala is used for the authentic Thalassery biryani, something I couldn't get my hands on, but basmati rice worked just fine.

The chicken masala was so good on its own, if it wasnt for my enthusiasm to make the biryani, I would have just said, ok its rice and chicken curry for lunch. I would have to give the chicken curry a go some other time, because it seemed  like a perfect curry for chapathis and such. Now before going on to the recipe, I am not claiming it to be the authentic way (before the blog police heads here and leaves nasty comments)- although authentic is a very strong word and different people have different definitions of it. The biryani was spectacular and thats what matters. Both of us enjoyed it to the last bit.

Taking pics of awesome smelling food, especially when you are hungry, is quite torturous and so I haven't really done justice to how great it actually is, so pardon the pics.

Recipe adapted from here and here
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For the chicken masala
Chicken- 500 gms (cleaned and cut into medium size pieces)
Ginger- 2 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 10 pods, peeled
Green chillies- 3
Lemon juice- 1/2 tbsp
Fennel powder- 2 tsp
Onions- 2 medium ones, chopped fine
Tomato- 1, chopped
Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder- 1 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Cumin powder- 1 tsp
Garam masala- 3/4 tsp
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup, chopped fine
Mint leaves- 3 tbsp, chopped fine
Cashew nuts- 5 to 6
Coconut milk- 100ml
Oil- 3 tbsp
Salt- to taste

For the rice
Basmati rice- 2 cups, washed and drained
Cinnamon- 1 inch piece
Cardamom- 2 pods
Cloves- 2
Nutmeg- a pinch
Bay leaf- 1
Ghee- 1 tbsp, heaped
Water- 4 cups
Salt- to taste

For assembling
Biryani masala powder- 1 tsp 
Cashew nuts- about 6 to 7
Onion- 1/4 cup, julienned
Oil- enough to fry
Coriander leaves- 2 tbsp
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Grind together coarsely the ginger, garlic and green chillies.
Marinate the chicken pieces with a quarter of the ground mix, lime juice, fennel powder and salt. Keep aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. You can also marinate it in the refrigerator over night.
Soak the cashew nuts for the chicken masala in the coconut milk and keep aside.
Heat enough oil in a pan and fry the onions and cashew nuts (from the assembling bit) till they turn golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and keep aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the 3 tbsp of oil. 
Add the chopped onions and the remaining ground mix and cook till they turn a light brown in colour. this could take about 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat.
Add the tomato and cook till they turn mushy and the oil starts to separate.
In goes the marinated chicken pieces and pepper powder. 
Stir in all together, close with a tight fitting lid and let the chicken cook on medium heat. 
Once the chicken is half cooked, add the chilli, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders. Stir well and continue till the chicken is fully cooked.
If there is too much water, leave the pot open and boil it off.
Grind the cashew nuts with coconut milk and add to the chicken once it is fully cooked, making sure the curry doesn't boil, but gently simmers henceforth. You should have a thick gravy by now. 
Also do the salt test and add more if required.
Finally mix in the chopped mint and coriander leaves and let the chicken simmer for about 5 more minutes. 
Then take it off the flame, sprinkle the remaining garam masala on top, close with the lid and keep aside to infuse flavours.
Before layering, give a good stir.

Get the rice ready, once the curry is taken care of.
In a large pan heat the ghee.
Throw in the whole spices and sauté for a couple of seconds, just to get the aromas going, on medium heat. Put a kettle of water to boil at this point.
Add the drained rice and fry for a couple of seconds.
Once the water has boiled, measure 4 cups and add to the rice.

Season with enough salt and close with a tight fitting lid.
Reduce heat to low and let the rice cook for about 10 to 12 minutes or till you can no longer see any water remaining and the rice is cooked but not mushy in consistency.
Remove pan from fire, open the lid and gently fluff the rice using a fork, making sure you don't break up the rice.
Transfer to a separate bowl immediately.
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Assembling:
Smear the bottom of a pan with oil or ghee and place a layer of rice.
Sprinkle half a tsp of the biryani masala, half of the chopped coriander leaves, fried onions and cashew over the rice and top with the chicken curry. Spread it out as gently as possible.
Tip in the remaining rice, spread it out and sprinkle the remaining biryani masala powder and coriander leaves.
Close with a tight lid, making sure no steam escapes, reduce heat to the lowest possible and let it warm up for about 10-15 minutes.
When done, scatter around the remaining fried onions and cashews and serve hot with some raita, pappad and pickle.
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Notes: Instead of using the biryani masala powder while doing the layer, you can also use garam masala in its place.
You can do the layering in the oven as well. Arrange it in an oven proof bowl and warm in an oven preheated at 150C for about 20 minutes.
You can make the chicken masala a day or two ahead in which case, the flavours would have infused better.
The chicken masala can be made in a pressure cooker to reduce cooking time. Although Shab advices against it.
Try the exact same recipe with mutton, if you prefer that.
Freeze the remaining biryani in a freezer proof container. To thaw, either transfer it to the top compartment of the fridge and let it thaw over night or take it out and leave on the counter for it to thaw by evening. Tip the contents into an over proof bowl and let it heat in an oven preheated at 200C for about 15 minutes. 

15 comments:

Happy Cook / Finla said...

I love biriyani too in any form and even if it is not that good. S also love it, but Hans would eat but not a huge fan he is like why can't you just give the rice and the chicken curry seperate than mixing everything etc... and i am like that i exactly why everybody love biriyani as the rice soaks the taste etc.... I think it is almost a year ago i made them.
Wish i had a huge filled plate of this biriyani.

Rookie Qookie said...

Aha! I too have the same weakness for chicken and biriyani :D
Will make this for our guests over this weekend..

Honey said...

Nisha, you take the most stunning pictures, you really do. I love biryani too.. I need to make it the traditional way, I don't bake it in the oven, but I want to try your version. bookmarking.

R said...

looks awesome. delicious stuff.

Gauri said...

Love the clicks.. doesn't look like u have not done justice to the pics... very detailed and appetizing Biryani!!

Subhie Arun said...

i lov biryani tooo..delicious n awesome clicks too!

Spice up the Curry said...

looks very delicious

Priya said...

So tempting and droolworthy briyani, simply inviting.Wish i live near you.

Suja Manoj said...

I too love biryani,pics makes me hungry,yum

Sunshine And Smile said...

This is new to me. I too like a lot of spice in biryani, but the color looks pretty!
PS: Love he bowl you used.. nice prop pick!

Shabs.. said...

Wow, looking so good....once u shud give a try without masala and see how it tastes, seriously....Nalla pics...

wrystarr said...

I have a soft spot for chicken and biryani...which also reminds me I have not had biryani in a while. And since I'm having mates over the weekend I think this malabar chicken biryani will make a perfect dinner. Cheers for the recipe!

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Reshmi Mahesh said...

I too love chicken biryani and as you said even if it is not so perfect...Malabar biryani adipoli...Beautiful clicks...

Indu said...

I love chicken biriyani, good or not so good! I mean, chicken, rice, ghee, raisins, nuts...It cannot go wrong, can it?

rakhi katare said...

I am foodie and I just saw many recipes and they look amazing.I am going to try long grain basmati rice today.Thanks for this wonderful blog.