The marinated chicken is in the bottom, topped with half-cooked rice, fried onions, and mint leaves and sealed to slow-cook in an oven for a delicious festive Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani.
MFB Challenge is completing a year!!!! and guess what is the theme this month? Well, there was NO theme! We could pick any theme from the past 11 months' challenges. I am sharing a favourite kind of biryani called Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani, a common one right? I know, but when it has such a beautiful memory then it should occupy my blog. Before that, want a recap of the challenges we made through?
- Cooking from “Chef in Disguise”
- Cooking with Dates
- Cooking from the Scrapbook
- Indonesian Cuisine
- Cooking from “Shab’s Cuisine”
- Ramadan Memories
- Cooking with Honey
- Meat recipes
- Pakistani Cuisine
- Cooking a bookmarked dish from a Muslimah blogger
Images and recipes updated as of 13th March 2020.
I wanted to make up for missed ones— Cooking with Honey and Pakistani Cuisine. As I was tending to Ragee most of the time, I lacked the desire to cook something new. Her last few days, we spent watching Videos for Cats together on youtube and she used to doze off while the birds kept chirping... So, I thought I rather settle for this Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani than miss the challenge.
I had fallen in love with Hyd biryani during my work-life in Bangalore and it remained my favourite biryani. The first time I attempted this kacchi biryani was before I started the blog and there were no restaurants here serving Indian food. I followed some random recipe and made it with so much love and excitement. I danced with joy to watch the perfectly cooked rice.
But something didn't go well with F - he got up - washed his hands - and said very kindly - "Don't make this again". I wasn't upset. Why? What was wrong? It seems he was not happy with the chicken being cooked that way. You know, we place the marinated chicken on the bottom and it gets cooked in the dum. I think some pieces looked uncooked to him. No amount of explanation bought him to eat it...so I had to finish it over the week. Goodbye Hyderabadi Biryani.
After I made the Thalassery Chicken Biryani for the blog, I thought I should revisit Hyderabadi Biryani at least to wipe out his bad experience. Now with knowledge and a sense of cooking, alhamdulillah, I planned my biryani prep to make it an easy Friday lunch. Prepared the fried onions and marinated the chicken the previous night and the next day all I had to do was cook the rice 50% and then assemble both chicken and rice in a biryani pot, seal and cook until done!
I realized this is the easiest biryani I can make with just eyeballing. And guess what? F loved it. He wiped clean the pots. I had shared on Instagram too... and honestly, I don't remember what changes I made from the first attempt. But clearly, I was getting better at reaching his heart.
I made the third time when Ragee was on medication and wouldn't eat much solid food. When the biryani was ready to serve, all I wanted was to just sit and rest. Instead, I was trying hard to click good pictures. I was not happy and no amount of re-arranging was giving me the 'good feeling', so I called it quits and sat to eat.
With a dull face that I can't hide I hoped at least it tasted good to lift my spirit. F approved it this time too and silently we wiped clean the pot ...but what lifted my spirit was Ragee, who always is part of our meal table to watch us eat - actually came forward to eat the chicken!
I was so thrilled as this was the first time she ate what I cooked for us - and she ate well. She was never keen on eating our food but this was a delightful surprise! But then she is no more. 🙁 Cooking is therapeutic and I am a true example. After a week of grief, I was not getting any better, so turned my focus to this challenge and made Makrout - an Algerian cookie made with Date paste and semolina - deep fried and soaked in honey.
I just realized that I haven't talked about the dish. Do I have to? We all know about this most popular biryani right? I guess this is global food now! But for 'food blog' ethics, Hyderabadi biryani originated as an amalgam of Mughlai and Iranian cuisine in the kitchens of the Nizam, then rulers of the historic Hyderabad State of India. Made with exotic whole spices and yoghurt with chicken or mutton, and basmati rice, this biryani defines royal food and so quality brings the best flavours.
For beginners, the only fear in making this biryani would be the doneness of the meat or chicken. That is why it is important to marinate overnight and use natural meat tenderizers like yoghurt, vinegar, lime juice etc especially if using mutton or beef. Also, if you use runny yoghurt or curd, then the chances of rice getting swishy are high. Don't cut down on fried crispy onions, they impart a major flavour too.
Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani
For crispy fried onions
- 2 to 3 large onions sliced finely and strands separated
- enough cooking oil to deep fry
Marinate and keep refrigerated overnight
- 700 grams chicken bone-in pieces
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds shah jeera
- a small piece of mace crushed
- 4 green cardamom
- 1½ inch cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- 1½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon red chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 2 to 3 green chillies slit
- ½ cup thick yoghurt whisked
- a handful of fresh mint leaves
- ¾ cup crispy fried onions
- ¼ cup oil from the fried onion, preferably
For par-boiling the rice
- 1½ cups basmati rice washed and soaked for 30 minutes and drained
- 6 cups water
- 2 cardamom
- 2 cloves
- 2 green chillies slit
- 1½ tablespoon fine salt
- a pinch of saffron strands soaked in 2 tablespoons of hot water
- A handful of fresh mint leaves
- ¼ cup fried onions
- ¼ cup water reserved after parboiling the rice
Prepare the crispy fried onions
- Heat enough cooking oil in a kadai or deep pan.
- Separate the strands of the sliced onions with your hands. Test the oil by dropping one small onion strand, if it sizzles up immediately, then you can start frying in batches.
- Drop a handful of onion strands into the hot oil ensuring to spread out and do not overlap. Keep the flame low to medium all time, stir in between to fry evenly and fry till you see the onions changing shades. Takes about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove the onions with a slotted spoon on time before they get burnt. The onions will continue to cook even when you take them out, so remove them when you see the golden light brown shade. Continue to fry in batches.
- Spread the fried onions on a paper towel to drain the excess oil (It will become crispy as it cools). Let cool before storing in an airtight box in the freezer.
Marinate the Chicken
- Add the washed chicken and salt into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Add the rest of the marinade items and mix thoroughly with your hand preferably.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- Take it out 30 minutes before you start the rice prep.
Par-boil the Rice
- Boil the water in a deep large pot with salt, green chillies, cardamoms and cloves.
- Stir in the drained rice and bring this to a full boil on high flame.
- Reduce to medium flame and boil for just about 90 seconds to 2 minutes (50 per cent cooked).
- Switch off and drain the rice in a colander immediately.
- Reserve ¼ cup of water for later.
Prepare Biryani Pot
- If making in oven, then preheat the oven at 170°C with rack in level 2.
- Spread the marinated chicken in a single layer on the bottom of the biryani pot.
- Spread the drained rice evenly and pour the reserved water all around.
- Add the fried onions, mint leaves and saffron water (you may squeeze some lemon juice or rose water and a few dollops of ghee for extra flavour).
- Cover and seal the pot with foil and then with the lid.
- If making on a stove-top, place a heat diffuser (or any flat pan) on medium flame and keep the biryani pot over the diffuser. This will ensure even heat distribution and prevent the burning of food.
- Dum cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. For the oven, keep it up for 1 hour.
- Open and remove the foil - let it cool for 5 minutes before you stir the rice. Serve hot with cold salads, kachumber raita, papadams etc. or traditionally served with Mirch ka salan.
- Crispy fried onions are a must and so should not be skimmed or skipped.
- Make sure the marination is not too runny, so use only thick yoghurt.
- Freeze any leftover fried onions in an airtight box for later use.