So the first thing I learned to cook WAS rice. The second thing I learned was Biryani, at the age of 14. Since then, in the last 16 years, I have cooked biryani well over a 100 times. There was a time where every week, I would make biryani because it is by far my most favourite thing to eat. I can safely eat Biryani, especially a good spicy biryani for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In fact, growing up, when we would be invited to weddings in Karachi, I would look forward to the “shaadi” biryani more than anything else! Shameless biryani lover.
Over the years, I have only ever trusted Shan Bombay Biryani Masala for a kick-ass biryani. I have tried all different brands, and styles (sindhi etc), and this is my absolute favourite. I have also learned some secret tips to a kick-ass biryani.
Some things I have learned on Biryani Making over the years:
- Marinate your meat! This is soooo key, especially with chicken. Typically, in the past, I would first fry the chicken and then add masala/spices as per the instructions on the Shan packet. But, my mother-in-law has wisely taught me that chicken needs more self-love and needs to lovingly sit in a yogurt + spice marinade for at least half an hour.
- Add your own spices. Yup – I am going to add my own masala’s to the Shan packet. Often, I use half the Shan packet, and then add my own whole garam masala (cloves, cardamom, cinammon sticks, bay leaf, whole nutmeg), red chilli flakes, chaat masala , dried plums (aloo bukharay). This elevates the flavour to the next level, and it pays off every time!
- Use good quality rice. The hallmark of a high quality biryani is the way your rice turns out. I judge a biryani harshly if the rice is mushed up, and over years I have learned that the brand of rice you purchase makes a massive difference. I solely only buy Pakistani rice, because I am a proud Pakistani and in my experience no other rice compares to Pakistani Basmati Rice. We use the brand “Marjaan” and I swear by it so much that I made my husband bring it to Vancouver from Toronto, every time I needed rice during the year I lived in Vancouver.
- You don’t need tomatoes or tons of onions for a good biryani! You can completely omit the tomatoes in my opinion, and use pre-browned onions. Now, with pre-browned onions there are two varieties: one that come coated with starch and ones that don’t. The ingredients will clearly list that there is added starch or flour. We want the ones that DON’T have any starch or flour coating. The brand that I like to use for all cooking is Zaika and is easily available in your local Pakistani or Indian grocery store.
Chatpatti (Spicy) Chicken BiryaniCourse: MainCuisine: PakistaniDifficulty: Moderate
From Wikipedia – “Biryani is a mixed rice dish with its origins among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. It can be compared to mixing a curry, later combining it with semi-cooked rice separately. This dish is especially popular throughout the Indian subcontinent, as well as among the diaspora from the region.”
From Areeba – Biryani is a religion in the Pakistani and Indian community, and sometimes is used as the determinant to if you have been appropriately cultured in the culinary world.
- Chicken Sauce/Biryani Masala
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup pre browned onions (zaika brand) or 3 onions thinly sliced
1/2 chicken – cut in medium to small pieces
1 packet Shan Bombay Biryani Masala
1 tablespoon chaat masala
10-15 dried plums/aloo bukharay
1 cup yogurt
3-4 small or 2 medium/large potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup water
- Rice + Accessories
3 cups long-grain basmati rice
1 lemon sliced thinly
1/2 cup cilantro finely chopped
3-4 green chillies chopped chunkily
Yellow food colour dissolved in 1/2 cup milk (any fat content is fine)
1/2 cup pre-browned onions
- Chicken Sauce/Biryani Masala
- Mix biryani masala, chaat masala, and yogurt together, and marinate chicken in the mixture for 30 minutes.
- If using browned onions, let them warm up in oil. If frying own onions, then go ahead and brown onions in the oil.
- Once onions are warmed up – no need to fry the browned onions – add marinated chicken, and fry for 5 minutes.
- add potatoes and 1/2-3/4 cup of water and cover and let chicken and potatoes cook for 10-15 minutes, periodically checking on the tenderness of the potatoes.
- Once potatoes and chicken are cooked, and the oil has separated from the sauce/masala, add in your dried plums/aloo bukharay at the end.
- Pre heat oven to 400 F.
- bring a large pot of well salted water to boil. Add un-soaked rice to boil, and boil and strain rice.
- Assembling the Masterpiece
- Take a wide mouthed oven safe pot, and start to layer your chicken sauce/biryani masala and rice in the following order: sauce (no meat or potatoes) as an initial base, half of the rice, meat and potatoes, condiments( sprinkling of cilantro, green chillies, browned onions, sliced lemon), meat/potatoes, rice, condiments. Layer as many times as necessary given your layer thickness ending with the thin garnish of condiments.
- Drizzle dissolved food colour/milk mixture over your layered rice/masala.
- Cover the pot with a lid and put it in the pre-heated oven for “dum” for 20 minutes.
- Serve with a side of yogurt and a chilled glass of coca cola!
- All measurements are actual measurements. Feel free to dial down the spice level a notch if you don’t like spicy food.
That is my recipe that is tweaked and modified through both the experience I have gained, but also valuable insight from my mom and mother-in-law who are both biryani experts. Looking for something to warm you up until the mild spring days? Look no further… this chat patti/ spicy biryani will tide you right over!
Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!