This recipe does not fall into the 30 minute criterion of this site. However Diwali is a special occasion, so a little bit more time in kitchen will not hurt anybody.
After I left my home town I missed Biryani like any other Bengali. Whenever I had an opportunity I used to visit Bangalore and try Kolkata style Biryani at Lazeez in Commercial Street. Then my requirement of visiting Bangalore ended, and ever since I missed my Biryani. My hubby went one step further, he ordered Biryani at any shop, whoever had one to offer in their menu and in every case (other than at Dindigul Ponram Biryani) he did not go beyond a spoonful.
I had to try my hand at it. After trying for three long years I finally mastered the art of Kolkata style chicken Biryani and here I share my wisdom with my fellow Biryani lovers. Let’s begin!
I have tried a lot of biryani recipes but it never was as good as a real Kolkata style chicken biryani. Then I found this recipe and tweaked it to my advantage. The following is the recipe for two people.
Main Pieces of a Biryani
- Mashla (Spices)
I will explain how to prepare each of them one by one. While cooking you can obviously multitask, like while the chicken is cooking you can start cooking your rice etc.
Biryani Mashla (Spice)
Biryani spice-mix is the soul of the prep. The amount you will get from the ingredients listed below is a lot, and can be used to make biryanis many times over. However, it is easy to make larger amounts. This spice-mix can be used in daily cooking as garam masala.
1 tbs cumin seeds (Saah Jeera)
1 tbs coriander seeds
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs white pepper
2 or 3 black cardamom
7 or 8 green cardamom
1 whole nutmeg (jaifol)
2 whole maces (javetri flower)
5 or 6 whole cloves
1 inch long cinnamon stick
Dry roast all the whole spices on a hot tawa, till they start to release their aroma.
Take them off the heat and let them cool a little following which blend them to get the powdered spice.
You can sieve coarse grounded spices to get finer powder if you wish. Keep the powder in an air tight container for longer use.
2 cups of fine quality Basmati Rice (Use aged rice as it is less starchy, hence less sticky)
4 Tbs of White Vegetable Oil (Most of the Biryani recipes use ghee, but I like oil better, they don’t make the dish as heavy as ghee)
2 tsp Rose water or 1 tsp Rose Essence
1 tsp Keora Water (this gives the Biryani its flavor, so this item is important. I usually get this from my hometown, since it is not always available locally)
1 Dollop of ghee
4 Pieces of Chicken Legs
2 Medium sized Potatoes
4 or 5 big Onions
20 to 25 cloves of Garlic (I know they are a lot!)
1 inch long Ginger
150 gms plain Curd
1 tbs Red chilli powder
A pinch of sugar
2 Tbs warm milk
A pinch of saffron
You need to have some good quality Basmati rice. If you use aged rice even better. Wash the rice under running water and then immerse them in water for at least half an hour. This will get rid of excess starch, resulting beautiful non-sticky rice grains.
To prepare the rice, take 4 or 5 cups of water in a pan and bring it to a boil. Add couple of green cardamom, 1 clove and a cinnamon stick. Add a pinch of salt.
When the water starts to boil, add the rice and cook till it is done. Drain the extra water. Clean under running water to get rid of excess starch and salt. Take a flat plate and spread the rice.
Cut 4 or 5 onions and fry them with a pinch of sugar in 2 tbs of oil till they caramelize.
We will use half of the onions to cook the chicken and half for assembling the final dish.
Prepare Ginger Garlic paste
We will need a lot of garlic for this dish. The ratio to ginger and garlic should be approximately 1:3.
After you peel the garlic and ginger blend them in a blender with a spoonful of water till you get a smooth paste.
Take 2 spoonful of warm milk (or water) and add a pinch of saffron strands and keep it aside so the milk gets the color.
If you do not have saffron handy then take same amount of water and add a pinch of turmeric. The effect will be the same. But be careful, do not add a lot of turmeric, it will ruin the aroma of the dish.
Cooking the Chicken
Wash the chicken pieces and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or clean cloth. I usually use whole leg pieces for this preparation, as they taste better.
Heat 2 tbs of oil in a pan and sear all the chicken pieces.
Searing means, frying all the sides till they start getting a golden color. This also seals the moisture in the meat. This also stops the meat from releasing a lot of water while cooking.
After the chicken pieces starts to get a golden brown color, add half of the fried onions, all the ginger-garlic paste, plain curd, 1 tbs biryani spice-mix, 1 tbs red chili powder, 2 tsp rose water (if you are using rose essence then use 1 tsp), 1 tsp Keora water and salt.
Do not use a lot of keora water, it tends to make the dish taste bitter
Mix well and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the heat and let it cook for at least 20 mins. Check occasionally, if required add a little water. We do not want a lot of gravy.
When done take the chickens off the heat and keep them in a separate bowl. We will use the pan to fry the potatoes. We will use the chicken pieces and gravy separately. You can sieve the gravy to get rid of all the chunky pieces, but I am too lazy to do that.
Take two potatoes, cut them into four pieces each and cook them in a pressure cooker with a pinch of salt. When done keep them aside.
In the same pan, after finishing the chicken, fry the boiled potatoes till they start to acquire some golden color. Turn off the heat.
It is now time to assemble all the pieces to get our Holy-Grail.
Now that we have all the elements of biryani ready, we just need to assemble them.
Take a heavy bottom pan.
Since we are going to cook the biryani on a low heat for a long time, we need to use a heavy bottom pan; else there is a possibility of burning the lower portion which eventually sticks to the pan.
In the pan put the potatoes, chicken legs at the bottom, top it up with 2 tbs of gravy, some fried onion and a pinch of biryani spices.
Now add a layer of rice. Top it up with fried onion, 1 tbs of gravy, a pinch of biryani spice-mix and 1 tsp of saffron water (or milk). Put another layer of rice. Top it up with fried onion, 1 tbs of gravy, a pinch of biryani spice and a tsp of saffron water (or milk). Add the last layer of rice. Top it up with fried onion, a pinch of biryani spices and 1 tsp of saffron water (or milk). Finish it with a dollop of ghee 🙂 .
Cover the pan with a lid. Try to use a pan with a fitting cover. We want the aroma to be sealed as much as possible. Put the pan on low flame and cook it for 10 mins. Turn off the heat and let it rest for another 5 mins.
Your Biryani is ready to serve.
A Quick Recap
- Prepare the Biryani masala.
- Immerse the rice in water for at least 30 mins.
- Cook the rice in boiling water with a pinch of salt and some whole spices.
- Cut the onions and fry them in lot of oil. We need nicely caramelized onions.
- Slow cook the chicken pieces with oil, spices, curd, chili powder and ginger garlic paste
- Cut the potatoes in big chunks and cook them in a pressure cooker till tender.
- Fry the potatoes in the same pan after you remove the chicken.
- Assemble the layers in a heavy bottomed pan and cover with a lid
- Cook for another 10 mins on a very low flame
- Biryani is ready to serve