Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani

Hyderabadi – the name originates for the place Hyderabad, in South India. It originated from the palace kitchens of the Mughals. One of the most searched words on the net for biriyani, is this. It can be made in two ways: Kacchi (raw)or Pakki (cooked). Marinating the meat, parboiling the rice, layering the biriyani and cooking it on low dum (steam) is the key to an awesome biriyani. It takes a few trial and errors, but practice is the key.Try it!
What I used: Serves 6 to 8
3 cups basmati rice
6/8 chicken drumsticks or 3 lb boned chicken cut into large chunks.
2 tsp garam masala (1 inch cinnamon, 4 cardamoms, 6 cloves, 2 bay leaves)
2 tsp somph (fennel seeds)
1 cup yogurt
1tsp garam masala powder
3 tsp ginger garlic paste
3 cups chopped onions
8/10 small green chilies slit a little lengthwise
2 tsp chili powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 cup fresh chopped mint leaves
1 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
4tsp ghee/ oil
2tsp oil
1/4 cup lime juice
½ tsp saffron soaked in ¼ cup hot water or milk.
Salt to taste
Soak the chicken pieces overnight in yogurt, chili powder, turmeric powder, ginger garlic paste and salt. The next day, before you start cooking, add 1 cup raw sliced onions, slit green chilies, 2 tsp melted ghee/oil, mix it into the marinate, and let stand for 20 minutes.

Soak the raw rice in cold water. Set aside for 30 minutes. Get a large pot of water (about 8 cups) to a good boil. Add all the garam masalas, 2 tsp salt (less or more as you desire) and 2 tsp oil. Then drain the soaked rice and add it into the water. Let it cook about 50-75 percent. This is key; test a grain with your finger, if it is a little soft and cracks, it is just right, if it is soft and mushy, it is overcooked. Drain and set aside.

Add some oil into a large, hollow saucepan or skillet. Over medium-high heat, put in 2 tsp ghee; add in 1 cup of onions and fry to a golden brown.  Remove the browned onions aside. Add the Marinated chicken and the marinate juices. Let it stay for 7-10 minutes.  Turn the heat to low, let it simmer for another 10 minutes. (If you feel the oil separated on top of the gravy is too much, remove it out with a ladle, you may use a little of it later, for layering.

Add half of the boiled rice as the first layer. Second layer is chopped cilantro, mint and fried onions. Then sprinkle a tsp of garam masala powder.Third layer is the remaining rice again. Final layer is the saffron milk. Pour it all over the rice. Pour the remaining melted ghee. You may add a spoon of excess oil if you have it reserved.

You may layer and cook the biriyani in an oven, or on the stovetop. My suggestion: small quantity-stove top; Large quantity-bake.
          If using the stovetop, set the flame to low, use a flat pan below the cooking pot. This allows for uniform heating and keeps the biriyani from charring below. Start layering. Cover it with chapathi dough on the edges to form a ring. Then top that with a lid. Place some heavy weights on it, so the steam stays tightly inside. Cook on low for 30-45 minutes.
        If you are using the oven, set it to preheat on 375 degree F. Use a bakesafe glass/metal pan. Put in the meat and gravy as the bottom layer. After the layering is done, pour 1 cup of boiling water over it. Cover it with double aluminium foil and seal it tightly. Let it cook on bake mode for 45-60 minutes.

Test the rice. If the rice is completely cooked, the chicken would be cooked as well. When serving, use a pancake spatula to scoop out the biriyani from the edge of the pan. Remove a chunk of rice and chicken and gently spread it on a plate. Some prefer the rice as a combination of all the layers, some like it all mixed. Serve as you desire. It is enjoyed with yogurt salad and eggplant masala.