I finally ventured into slightly dangerous territory here. I had never attempted a "Kacchi" style biryani in which you cook the rice and meat together on slow heat. I was always concerned that the rice or the meat won't cook to perfection. I attempted it finally to good success. Last night we were getting together to have dinner with our friends. NE was making a slow cooked leg of lamb and we decided to bring a rice dish. Whenever I need a main rice dish i always think Biryani. Pulaos are o.k but biryanis are special. I learnt that Biryani originates from the persion word Beryan meaning yummy and roasted. I have posted quite a few biryani recipes on this blog but this is the first time that I'm trying a Kacchi biryani cooked on slow low heat (aka dum). The rice in this dish is partially cooked at first and then cooked to perfection with the meat on a low heat. The trick is therefore to get perfectly cooked rice with perfectly cooked meat and the flavors to all blend in. This was exactly what I was looking to make.
Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
For the rice
Long grain Basmati rice
1 stick cinnamon, 1 green cardamom and 2 cloves
For the chicken mixture
Chicken 2-3 pounds, bone in, cut into small pieces
Fried onions 2 cups (buy from an Indian grocery)
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 pods black cardamom
2 green cardamom pods
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp red chilly powder
2 tsp cumin corrainder powder
1 cup beaten yogurt
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tblsp grated garlic
1 cup mint leaves chopped
1 cup cilantro leaves chopped
1/2 tsp saffron strands soaked in 1/8 cup warm water
melted butter-2 tblsp
Wash and soak rice in water for 30 minutes (very important step). Boil water in a pot with salt, whole spices and oil. Water should taste as salty as you want the rice to taste. Drain soaked rice and add to the water. Let the water come to a boil. Cook till rice is half done. Test this by squeezing a grain of rice between two fingers. The rice grain should get crushed but should still be uncooked and have a crunch to it. Drain and keep aside.
Wash chicken. Add to a large bowl. Add ground spices, whole spices, fried onions, yogurt, ginger, garlic, 3/4 cup mint leaves and 3/4 cup cilantro. Add salt and 1/4 cup oil. Mix together well. Keep aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
You can do this when rice is soaking . Heat 2 tblsp oil in a pot. Add chicken. Fry the chicken mixture on high heat till chicken is slightly roasted but not cooked. Heat a heavy bottomed flat pan. Place a large pot with a heavy lid on the pan. Add half the chicken mixture to the base of the pot. Layer with half the uncooked rice and flatten. Dot rice with butter. Add 1/2 the saffron mixture, mint leaves, cilantro leaves and sprinkle some garam masala powder. Repeat the layer one more time. On the top most rice layer, also sprinkle some fried onions.
Close the lid on top. Seal the edges with foil or with pieces of dough (as my mom did).
Cook on medium heat for 10 minutes and then low heat for 30-40 minutes. Just before serving garnish with chopped cilantro, mint and fried onions. Serve hot with raita.