Hyderabadi Kachi Yakhni Chicken Biryani

It has happened! I am posting a recipe for the dish my city is most popular for. I am no longer vegetarian. The blog however has not had many non vegetarian recipes, and this is as good a time as any to share this one. I am not sure how many meat based recipes I will share, but for all those who followed me on instagram and asked for the recipe when I posted it on stories, here it is.

The meat of choice for biryani is mutton. But we had guests who requested for a chicken version and I made it. There are two main ways of making biryani out of the countless recipes there are ~ Kachi biryani where the raw marinated meat is layered with rice, and pakki biryani where the meat and spices is cooked and then layered with the rice. I favour the kachi version although I make no claims to authenticity, but this is a very tasty biryani, low on the mouth searing spice and full on flavour.

The biryani maker of the family is my brother Aditya. He makes possibly one of the best biryanis I’ve ever eaten. Biryani made by him is a must at all family gatherings and he cooks with the flourish and the temper of a celebrated chef. I have used his recipe as a template and there is a vegetarian version of this biryani also on this blog. Take my humble word when I say it is very flavourful unlike the insipid vegetarian biryanis that abound.

There are three parts to making a good biryani.

Step 1~ The marination, do this atleast a day before and you will end up with very flavourful meat. Use the best quality meat you can lay your hands on and the pieces should be about 4 inches large, smaller pieces will fall apart.

Step 2 ~ The Rice, I use either Daawat or India Gate, my brother soaks the rice for just about 20 minutes, and since the time taken for dum is longer in kachi gosht, the par boiling of the rice is only about 30 or 35%, the rest of the cooking happens during dum.

Step 3~ Assembling the biryani for dum. Have a wide bottom vessel. Traditionally a lagan is used. Whatever you use, make sure there is atleast 4 inches of space between the top of the rice and the lid of the pan to ensure optimum steaming. Overcrowding the vessel is a big no no.

Also, take my word, make extra, keep it in the fridge, reheat and eat it. Scale it down if you want to feed lesser people.

Hyderabadi Kachi Chicken Biryani (Serves 8)

The marination: (use the same spoon to measure everything, level the spoon and do not add heaping spoons of the masalas)

1 1/2 Kilo Chicken on the bone, cut into large biryani pieces, washed twice under running water, drain on a sieve for 30 minutes.

4 tablespoons fresh ginger garlic paste

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 teaspoons salt or adjust to taste

2 tablespoons green chilli paste

1 tablespoon red chilli powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1 tablespoon garam masala powder

1 cup beaten curd / yogurt

1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves

1/4 cup finely chopped coriander leaves

1/4 cup oil in which the onions were fried

1 teaspoon shahi jeera

2 teaspoons green cardamom powder or 6 whole cardamom

2 one inch cinnamon sticks

4 cloves

1/2 teaspoon saffron strands

Add all of the above to a large vessel, mix thoroughly with a spoon or your hands and set aside for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, mix in

1/2 cup deep fried onions (birista, available readymade now) or you can finely slice 4 medium onions and shallow fry till golden brown and use it.

Cover this mixture and refrigerate for 4 hours, or overnight or upto two days

The rice:

700 grams fine basmati rice, washed twice in running water and soaked for 20 or 30 minutes.

To cook the rice:

4 litres of water

1/4 cup mint leaves

2 or 3 green chillies

1 teaspoon shah jeera

4 green cardamoms

4 cloves

a few drops of lemon juice

1 tablespoon oil

salt to taste, the water should taste like tears, any less and the rice will have no salt.

Before making the rice, have a wide mouth strainer to strain the rice and dry kitchen cloths to transfer the vessel ready. These things need to be at arms reach, move quickly to strain the rice else it will get over cooked.

Heat the water in a wide mouthed vessel, once it is heating up, add all of the above ingredients and cover it. Bring it to a rolling boil which takes about 5 or 6 minutes. Add the washed and drained rice to the boiling water. Stir frequently and cook for 4 or 5 minutes on high flame. The rice should be brittle when touched and cooked only about 30 or 40 %. Remove 1 large cup of the water and set aside.

Place the strainer over a vessel in the kitchen sink, transfer the cooked rice, water and all. Strain quickly and spread the strained rice onto a plate and set aside. Do not mix or smush the rice in any way.

Assembling the biryani

1/2 cup golden brown fried onions

1/2 cup fresh mint and coriander leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon garam masala

1/3 cup ghee

1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon saffron strands

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Take a large vessel of atleast 5 litre capacity and 12 inch diameter.

Heat 1/4 cup of ghee (reserve the rest) and turn off the heat.

Add the marinated chicken at the bottom and spread to make a single layer.

Sprinkle half of the onions, fresh mint and coriander and half of the garam masala over the marinated chicken.

spread out the par boiled rice on the chicken layer, gently and with a light hand. smoothen the top. Sprinkle the rice with the milk evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the onions, mint and coriander and the garam masala. Sprinkle the lemon juice and the saffron strands as well. Dot the rice with the remaining ghee.

Take the back of a wooden spoon or a dowel and dig 6 or 8 holes around the pan, all the way to the bottom of the vessel. Measure out 1 tea cup of the rice water and gently pour it into these holes. The water should be about 1 inch in the holes, if needed use 1/4 cup more. Do not add too much of the water.

Place a tight fitting lid on the vessel, weigh it down with a weight, I use a large stone, but even a pan filled with 3 litres of water will do. Place the biryani vessel on a flat tava/ griddle and cook on high heat for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to the minimum and cook for 45 minutes. Turn it off and rest it for 15 minutes.

After this, I usually open the lid and check the rice on top to see if it has steamed through, the rice on top is usually drier but should be fully cooked. If it seems very dry, sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of water with your hand, cover the vessel with a cloth and place the lid and weight back on, cook on the lowest heat for another 10 minutes. Turn off and leave to rest for 15 minutes or more before serving.

To serve the biryani, use a flat long handled spoon, something like what we use to fry dosa. Insert onto one side, lifting and loosening gently the rice and meat, serve onto a serving platter. Garnish with more fried onions, mint and coriander leaves and serve hot with raita and mirchi ka salan.

Make this and thank me later.

Leftovers can be boxed and frozen or refrigerated for later use. I reheat in the pressure cooker.

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