Monday 17 March 2014

Easy + Traditional Pakistani Chicken Biryani.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

This is a really easy and simple recipe for a Chicken Biryani. 

Who doesn't love a good biryani? I know I can't resist one! 
This traditional Pakistani recipe is truly delicious and straightforward. The layering process at the end couldn't be simpler and means that you'll have dinner on the table in no time :) I used boneless chicken but whole chicken pieces would be good too. I always like to grind up the whole spices in a biryani because there is nothing worse than sinking your teeth into a whole cardamom or clove!
P.S. the leftovers taste even better the next day!

A Simple List of Ingredients:

1. Basmati Rice

2. Cumin Seeds
3. Cloves
4. Salt
5. Boneless Chicken Pieces
6. Vegetable Oil
7. Onions
8. Garlic
9. Ginger
10. Plain Yoghurt
11. Kewra Water
12. Black Cardamoms
13. Cinnamon Stick
14. Black Peppercorns
15. Green Cardamoms
16. Yellow Food Colouring
17. Green Chillies
18. Dried Prunes
19. Red Chilli Powder
20. Ground Coriander
21. Fresh Lemon

Bismillah, let's begin!

 Before starting, wash 540 grams (2 and 1/2 cups) Basmati Rice in a few changes of water. Then, soak in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes.

To start, we are going to part-cook the rice for our biryani. So, fill a large pan with Water.

Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds.

Quite a bit of salt - 1 and 1/2 tablespoons Salt.

And, 10 Cloves. Put the pan onto the heat, and bring to the boil.

Once the water is boiling, drain the basmati rice that we soaked earlier.
Add it to the pan and bring to the boil again. Then, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

{Updated December 2015: I have reduced the cooking time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes. After testing again, I found that 5 minutes was enough for the rice to be par-boiled. It should be soft with still a bite to it}

Drain the rice immediately. 

Spread it out onto a large tray so that it can cool.

Now, to start the chicken masala. We begin with 3 medium Onions.

Heat 80 ml (1/3 cup) Vegetable Oil in a large pan. Peel and slice the onions, and add them into the hot oil. Let them cook on a medium heat, until they turn golden brown. Stir occasionally.

Whilst the onions brown, take 10 Green Cardamoms.

Put them into a spice grinder, and grind to a powder. Set aside to use later.

Then, into the spice grinder, put:
 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
2 inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Black Cardamoms
10 Cloves

Grind to a powder and set aside. Be sure to give your onions a stir too!

Next, take 2 inch piece Ginger and 1 whole bulb Garlic.

Peel and roughly chop the ginger, and put it into a food processor. I used a mini one :)

Peel the garlic and add it in too.

Pour in enough Water, to cover.

Blend until smooth, and set aside.

By now, the onions should be lovely and golden brown.

With a slotted spoon, remove 3/4 of the onions from the pan ..

.. and put them onto a plate.

Then, put 1 and 1/2 pound Boneless Chicken Pieces into the pan. 

You could also use 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, as I have done in the past.

Stir fry for a few minutes until sealed.

Add in the blended ginger and garlic.

Give everything a good stir.

Then, take your spices. These are:
 the big spice mix we made earlier
1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder - or to taste
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander 
2 teaspoons Salt - or to taste

Add them to the chicken.

Mix well, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare a few other ingredients. Slice up a Lemon into rounds and Green Chillies, through the middle. Add as many or as less chillies as you want - you could even replace them jalapeno chillies which are not as spicy.

Next, take 250 ml (1 and 1/2 cup) Plain Yoghurt.

Using your fingers, roughly crush the onions from earlier.

Add them to the yoghurt.

Mix to combine.

When the chicken is cooked,

add in the yoghurt onion mixture.

Stir it in.

Next, add in 2 tablespoons Kewra Water. If you don't have any, just leave it out. You can buy it from Asian grocery stores or from here.

Stir in the kewra water.

Next, take 5 Dried Plums (Alu Bukhara). These can also be found at Asian stores or from here.

Add in a few of the dried plums, and stir in. The plums give the biryani a delicious tang!! A warning though - these dried plums contain stones so be sure to warn whoever is eating the biryani or remove them before eating.

Cook the masala for a few more minutes until it turns a lovely golden brown colour, and then remove from the heat.

Time to layer! And, this couldn't be easier. Take a large and deep saucepan. Place onto a low heat, and add a splash of Water along with 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds.

Spread out half of the rice.

Followed by all of the chicken masala.

Lay out the lemon slices and slit green chillies.

And, then top with the rest of the rice.

Remember those green cardamoms that we ground up at the beginning? Sprinkle those over the rice.

Finally, to give the biryani a lovely colour, sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon Yellow Food Colouring.

Now, cover the pan tightly with a lid. Turn the heat up to the highest for 4 minutes. Then, turn the heat to the lowest and leave to steam for 15 minutes.

Switch the heat off. Leave the pan covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and toss the rice very gently.

Serve with fresh salad, this and this.

Full Written Recipe:

Easy and Traditional Pakistani Chicken Biryani

Adapted from Bajias Cooking 

Ingredients – makes one large pot

For the Rice
2 and ½ cups Basmati Rice, washed and soaked
½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
10 Cloves
1 and ½ tablespoon Salt

For the Chicken Masala
1 and ½ pound Boneless Chicken Pieces
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
3 medium Onions, peeled and sliced
1 whole Garlic Bulb, peeled
2 inch piece Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 and ½ cup Plain Yoghurt
2 tablespoons Kewra Water
10 Cloves
3 Black Cardamoms
2 inch Cinnamon Stick
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
10 Green Cardamoms
¼ teaspoon Yellow Food Colouring
7 Green Chillies
5 Dried Prunes (Alu Bukhara)
1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Lemon, sliced into rounds
Extra Cumin Seeds, to layer


1.    First, start off the rice. Fill a large pan with water. Add the salt, cumin seeds and cloves. Bring to the boil.

2.  Once the water is boiling, drain the rice and add it in. And, bring to the boil again. Then, turn the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.

3.   Drain the rice immediately. Spread it out onto a large tray so it can cool.

4.  Next, begin the chicken. In another large pan, heat the vegetable oil and add the sliced onions. Allow them to cook on a medium heat until golden brown.

5.  Place the green cardamoms into a spice grinder, and grind. Set aside.

6.  Then, put the cloves, cinnamon stick, black cardamoms, black peppercorns and cumin seeds into the grinder. Grind until a powder forms and set aside.

7.  Place the ginger and garlic into a food processor and blend with a little water until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.

8.   By now, the onions should be nicely browned. Remove ¾ of the fried onions from the pan with a slotted spoon and lay them out onto a plate.

9.  Add the chicken pieces to the pan with the remaining onions. Stir fry for few minutes until sealed.

10.        Then, add in the ginger garlic paste, and stir in. Add in the salt, chilli powder, ground coriander and all the grinded spices (except the green cardamoms) to the pan. Give everything a good mix.

11.         Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Leave the chicken to cook for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

12.        Meanwhile, prepare the fresh lemon. Slice the green chillies through the middle and set them aside.

13.        Take the onions that we put onto a plate, and roughly crush them with your hands. Stir them into the plain yoghurt.

14.       Once the chicken is cooked, add in the yoghurt and onion mixture. Throw in the dried prunes and the kewra water as well. Cook for a few minutes and then remove from heat.

15.        Now, to layer the biryani. Take a large pot and add a splash of water and a few pinches of cumin seeds.

16.        Spread out half the rice in the pan. Then add all the chicken masala and spread out evenly.

17.        Lay out the lemon slices and green chilli slices. Top with the rest of the rice. Sprinkle the grinded green cardamoms over it and the yellow food colouring.

18.         Cover with a lid and place on the highest heat for 4 minutes. Turn the heat right down to the lowest and leave to steam like that for 15 minutes.

19.        Turn the heat off. Leave the pot covered and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving! Serve with the chutney of your choice and enjoy!

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