Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani Pakki style

The dish I am presenting today is one of the first dishes I have learned to make after I came to states. The procedure might look big and might take a little longer but trust me, it is worth it. Once you taste the dish you will forget all the effort you put into making this dish and you will get carried away to food heaven. Just the aroma of the dish will make you drool (No kidding!!!).

Dum biryani can be made two ways: Kachi and Pakki. A lot of practice is needed to master the Kachi biryani. But Pakki biryani is lot easier to make and it just tastes almost the same. Pakki means cooked where we cook all the different components separately and assemble them at the end.  You do not need lot of experience to make this recipe. All you need is little patience and time :). 

Ingredients 
For Marinade
2lbs Chicken
1 cup thick yogurt
1 tbsp Red Chilli powder
1 1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tbsp gram masala (or you can use 1/2 tbsp gram masala + 1/2 tbsp chicken biryani masala)
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cumin seeds
Salt per taste
For Rice
4 cups rice
6 cups water
1/2 cup coconut milk (Optional)
2 tbsp + 3tbsp butter or ghee
3 tbsp oil
5 or 6 curry leaves
1 1/2 large onion chopped length wise
10 green chillies slit length wise
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 big bunch of coriander/cilantro (discard the roots and use tender stems and leaves)
1 small bunch mint leaves(just the leaves)
1 tbsp red chill powder(adjust per you spice level)
1/2 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tbsp garam masala
1 1/2 tbsp chicken biryani masala
Salt per taste
Tempering for Rice

 2 tsp Cumin seeds
5 star anise broken into pieces (Anasapuvu)
1 tsp nutmeg powder (Jajikaya)
6 small barks of Mace (Javetri)
2 tsp Saunf/Fennel seeds(Sopu)
4 cardamom pods crushed
6 cloves(Lavangam)
2 inch cinnamon stick
6 Dried Bay leaves
1 tsp Sahajeera
1 tsp turmeric
For Chicken
1/2 large onion slit length wise
4 green chillies finely minced
1 tbsp oil
1/2 cup water
3 or 4 curry leaves
2 cloves
small piece of cinnamon stick (may be 1/2 inch)
For Garnish (Optional)

2 tbsp coriander/Cilantro leaves
2 tbsp Fried onions
2 tbsp warm milk
1 or 2 pinches of saffron strands
Method
Make deep slits in the chicken and marinate the chicken and set aside for atleast 2 hours. I usually marinate mine over night.
For Rice
In a bowl mix the water and coconut milk and keep aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a thick bottomed sauce pan. Add the rice and toast the rice till light golden brown color. Do not stir the rice as that will break the rice grains. We do not want the broken rice grains. So, to toast the rice evenly, toss it gently or just shake the pan holding the pan handle. This step will make the rice dry and fluffy.  Now transfer to the rice to the rice cooker bowl and keep aside.

In the same thick bottomed sauce pan heat 3 tbsp oil and 3 tbsp butter. Add the tempering and let them splutter. Throw in the curry leaves and let them splutter too. Add the onions, green chillies and salt. Fry till onions are caramelized (little dark brown in color). But do not burn them :).

Add in the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute till the raw smell is gone. Add in chopped coriander/Cilantro and mint leaves. Let them wilt down. At this point add the red chill powder, coriander powder, masala powders and fry for 2 minutes just to incorporate the powders into the onion mixture.

Add the water and coconut milk mixture and let it come to a boil. At this point check the taste and adjust the seasonings. Dump the water mixture into the rice we kept aside earlier. Hook up the rice cooker and let the rice cook. Once rice is done fluff it with a fork gently.

For Chicken
While the rice is cooking, in the same thick bottomed sauce pan heat 1 tbsp oil. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick and curry leaves. Let them splutter. Add in the onions and green chillies. Fry till the onions are light golden brown.

 Add in the marinated chicken and let the chicken cook in its own juices for 10 minutes. Now add in 1/2/ cup of water close the lid and let it cook stirring occasionally till the gravy is thick. Check for the seasonings and adjust at this point. Turn off the heat.

For Biryani
Preheat the oven to 375F. In 2 warm milk soak the saffron strands. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil to make the cleaning easy. If using disposable aluminum dish no need to line with foil.

Layer the bottom of dish with half of the cooked rice (be generous with rice for the first layer). add half of the chicken curry on top. sprinkle coriander leaves and fried onions.  Add 1/2 of the left over rice, rest of the chicken. Sprinkle the fried onions and cilantro leaves. Layer the last of the left over rice.
Sprinkle coriander leaves and fried onions. Drizzle the saffron milk. Cover with foil and throw in the oven for 30 minutes. Once done let stand for 10 to 15 minutes before taking off the foil.

Serve with raitha and raw onion slices. 
Variation
If you do not have a oven do not worry. In a thick wide bottom pan do the layers and place a lid. On the lid place a weights and seal the edges with dough (made out of wheat/godhuma pindi). On the stove heat a iron tawa (one used to make chapatis or rotis). Place the biryani vessel on the tawa and reduce the heat to low. Let it cook for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for 15 minutes before opening the lid.

Fried onions can be made before hand. Here is my recipe for fried onions

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