We, Indians, share exhaustive obsessions from sports to travel conscientiously. But when it comes to food, you will hear only one roar in unison – Biryani! According to 2018 study, a biryani is ordered every 3.5 seconds on Swiggy (one of the leading food delivery app in India), exceeding any other dish demand by far. Among the biryanis, Hyderabadi biryani is most sought after, with the highest demand for preparation with chicken followed by mutton. With such huge demands, the dish also has a rich history of origin from the 16th century India. Biryani finds its root in the kitchens of the Mughal Empire as a blend of the native spicy rice dishes of India and the Persian pilaf. From the Mughal cuisine, the dish blended into every major regional cuisines to result in as many as 16 variations like Awadhi cuisine, Mughlai cuisine, Chettinad cuisine, Sindhi cuisine to name a few. The rich history with countless variation has pushed this dish beyond boundaries to make its mark as South Asian cuisine.
Hyderabadi Dum Biryani, as the name suggests, originated in the Deccan capital of the Mughal Empire, Hyderabad. The dish is prepared with Basmati rice, marinated meat(chicken or mutton), vegetables, curd and a variety of spices. My mother learned Hyderabadi Biryani preparation during our stay in Maharashtra. After countless pompous lunch and dinner, I along with my sisters, have also mastered the recipe. The recipe is a very easy preparation but requires considerable patience and forethought in terms of gathering ingredients. Though you would be reluctant to cook the raw marinated chicken along with steamed rice, the chicken gets not only cooked perfectly but also, infused with aromatic flavour from the spices while cooking over a low flame or dum, as the name suggests. Let’s go over the recipe!
- 500 gm Basmati Rice
- 500g Chicken
- 150gm Potatoes
- 150gm Onions
- 50gm Coriander leaves, chopped
- 1/2 cup Curd
- 2 teaspoon garlic-ginger paste
- 3 teaspoon Biryani Masala powder(Coriander Seed, Cumin, Clove, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Star Anise, Javitri, Jaiphal, Shah Jeera). You can make it at home as described in Step 1
- 5 gm biryani colour/saffron
- 2 teaspoon Red chilly powder
- 5 green chillies, chopped
- Salt to taste
- Fry all the ingredients of the Biryani Masala powder over low heat and grind them finely to make Biryani Masala powder. Store it for future use in curries.
- Marinate the chicken pieces (medium slices) with curd, salt, red chilly powder, green chillies, coriander leaves, Biryani Masala powder and ginger-garlic paste. Mix the ingredients well and keep it aside for 30 minutes. Mutton Biryani is made similarly with only difference in this step. Mutton needs to marinate overnight (6 – 8 hours) as the meat is chewier and tough compared to tender chicken.
- Wash Basmati rice and drain it properly. Take a pot to steam the Basmati rice. Put 1 Cinnamon stick(break them to small pieces), 5-6 Clove, 2-3 pods of Cardamom and 1-2 Star Anise in water along with salt and oil and bring it to boil. Once the water starts boiling, add soaked basmati rice and add little vinegar and cook the rice until it is about 1/2 done. (You will be able to squash a grain but it will still have grainy ring texture). Drain it and keep the rice aside.
- Take karahi/wok/pressure cooker and fry potatoes(chopped into large dice) until light golden brown. Add little salt, colour to it and keep it aside. In the same pot, fry the onions(julienne cut) until golden brown and keep it aside.
- Turn off the stove. In the same pot, with remaining oil from frying onion, add marinated chicken and sprinkle 1/3rd fried onion on top (ensure no fried onions are left at the bottom layer, else it will burn). Add 1/2 of steamed rice. Add all the potatoes on top of it and sprinkle 1/3rd fried onions. Add the rest of the rice on top of the potatoes/onion layer and sprinkle it with rest of the fried onions, 1 teaspoon of Biryani Masala, and Biryani colour(mix it with 5 teaspoons of milk).
- This step is the most important part of the entire recipe and requires special care and attention! Seal the pot properly with the help of flour mixture. I prefer to make it in a pressure cooker. Turn on your stove and place the pot on high flame for the first 5 minutes. Bring down the flame to medium and cook for the next 5 minutes. Bring down the flame to low and cook it for the next 15 minutes. If you have broad base pan, ensure that you turn the pot around so that the entire pan gets the equal amount of heat during the last 15 minutes and it is not focussed only at one position. (You will be able to hear the marinated chicken simmering inside the pot!)
- Turn off the stove and let it sit for 30 minutes. The steam will cook the chicken further to perfection. Prepare salad or raita in the meantime.
- Pour the biryani in big Kadhai/wok and mix all the layers slowly. The dish is ready to serve.
Hyderabadi Dum Biryani is a very intricate dish but very simple if you follow the procedure of cooking it slowly for the perfect duration (5+5+15). Little too much and you will have overcooked/slightly burnt chicken. Too little and you will have under-cooked chicken. Also, oil remaining after frying onion should grease the base of the pan perfectly up to 2cm thick. (Eyeball it!). Too little and you would have dry(probably burnt) chicken. Too much and you would have a very oily biryani!
I am sure that too many warnings and danger signs would dissuade you from trying your culinary skills. But, trust me, the joy of making Biryani at home is nothing compared to never have tried at all. Follow the recipe and soon you would be making it under an hour. Serve it with raita and salad. Treat yourself and your family to pompous lunch or dinner! Let us know your feedback and comments in the comment section below or on our social media pages.