Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Biriyani Turns Over A New Leaf
Every year, when Id comes around, a friend of the family sends over biriyani and other festive delights for us to consume. He usually calls to tell us not to cook anything for the day as the amounts he sends are huge. One year, the call hadn't come yet, and Dad, who was eagerly looking forward to it, got antsy.
This friend is my grandfather's friend. My grandfather's name ended in Rao. "How about we give our friend a reminder?" Dad suggested. "We call him, chant 'Pulao, pulao, X X Rao, Pulao pulao X X Rao' and hang up?" Naturally, that led to a lot of giggles, but happily, the friend called soon after and we had ourselves a feast as usual.
That was a very involved biriyani which spared no effort, I'm sure, but this biriyani/pulao that I made the other day was chosen for its no-fuss method. The inspiration came from another recipe which I will post and acknowledge as soon as I make it, but the tweaking I did with the herbs and spices is all mine.
Chicken: 500 gm (Vegetarian can subsitute chicken with potatoes, peas and carrots)
Basmati Rice: 550 gm (note the volume)
Curry leaves: A handful (Read more about curry leaves here)
Crushed peppercorns: 1.5 tbsp
Thick coconut milk: 200 ml
Water: 1/2 cup + twice the volume of the rice
Coriander powder: 1.5 tbsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Powdered cinnamon and cloves: 1/2 tsp each
Cinnamon sticks: 3
Marathi moggu, crushed a bit: 3
Whole pepper: 1.5 tsp
Ghee/Oil/Mix of both: 75 ml/4 tbsp
Salt to taste
Soak the rice for 10 minutes and strain.
Wash the chicken and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed pan or pressure cooker, heat the fat and fry the cinnamon, cloves, Marathi moggu and pepper.
Add powdered cinnamon and cloves.
Add coriander and turmeric powders and fry again for a couple of seconds.
Add the curry leaves and the chicken pieces, sauté well. When the chicken changes colour, add salt and crushed peppercorns.
Add the coconut milk plus the 1/2 cup of water and cook the chicken for a couple of minutes.
Now add enough water (If the rice came to 3 cups, add 6 cups of water)and allow it to boil.
Add rice. Cook till done after sealing the lid. In a pressure cooker, let it cook for 5 minutes on simmer after two or three whistles.
One eater said it was alright, but that it didn't taste of anything in particular.
Another liked it, but that the whole pepper interfered with the eating. I liked it for that very reason. And the fragrance imparted by the spices boiling in the coconut milk - that was Joy of Discovery.
Yet another, bless his kind soul, said it was tasty, and served himself twice.
I made a raita to go with it but it wasn't really necessary - I've never really felt the need for any accompaniment to biriyani, though that's not to say I don't like them. I even believe it robs the biriyani of its taste. Have any of you felt this way?
As I believe curry leaves in biriyani are unusual, and this would make a great main dish for Christmas or any other festival/event where biriyani or pulao could be the main attraction, I am sending this off to Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging, organised and hosted by Haalo.
Weekend Herb Blogging Rice Biriyani/Pulao Chicken coconut+milk Non-vegetarian Humour