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
Cloves: 4
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.


  1. ah, the all time favorite chicken biriyani. probably the only dish i miss cooking at home :)

  2. Hi hi i loved reading this post, especially the part you all were waiting for the biriyani to arrive.
    I remember as kids we all waited for this payasom we got from our neighbour every year.

  3. I laughed so much when I I read the first bit. It reminded me of my older brother who got very excited when id was near. One of his best friends mom was a very good cook, and he and his gang would look forward to the invitation with great anticipation.

    I love chicken biryani, and yes, Dinesh doesn't like raita with his, although I love it.

  4. finally the pulao came to XX Rao's!! This is like sunday's when I wait for that special invite for lunch...:)

  5. Oh wow adding coconut milk is new t me. Looks flavourful and gr8.

  6. LOL at the Pulao - Rao rhyme :-))

  7. Happy, healthy and safe new year to you and family in advance, sra. We are finally free to enjoy a winter vacation. Enjoy. I will see you next year! Love the Biryani, but too late to try this year! ;D

  8. What a wonderful friend you have. I miss my having my friend near me... we would get some treat during id:-)

    This version of yours look so different. I have had plain pulao with coconut milk, but this is definitley worth a try. I love the slightly sweet flavor of coconut milk.

  9. I've always heard how fabulous the muslim biryanis are ... but never tasted them. I think the coconut milk always gives it a delicate richness... :)

  10. My favorite dish that! I know exactly what you mean about eagerly looking forward to Biriyani on Eid. While growing up in the Middle East, during Ramadan, our neighbors would religiously send us Iftaar snacks. And I had come to expect them every evening. Eid (ul-Fitr) used to be my favorite festival while growing up.

    I've never made Biriyani with curry leaves. Must try your recipe sometime.


  11. looks very unusual and interesting sra, but curry leaves? do curry leaves really have a place in biryani

  12. The pic looks so tempting Sra..moist and yummy..

  13. He he Sra, Rao & pulao re rhyming well :)
    Looks rich and creamy!

  14. Nags, too bad! The fragrance is really something else!
    Happy, yeah, I liked the payasam too, sometimes we would get halwa.
    Sunita, I liked this biriyani, think this is the best one I've tasted so far, even if I say so myself!
    Rachel, we invite no one and no one invites us ... nothing to look forward to :(
    Lubna, try this, it's really nice.
    Jayashree, yeah, it was v spontaneous too.
    Asha, thanks a lot, happy new year to you too! Waiting for you to come back to blogging.
    Soma, somehow, amidst all the spices, there was no sweetness, but definitely a flavour.
    Laavanya, true. In fact, this didn't feel very heavy.
    Mamatha, I've never got any Iftaar snacks, but have tasted them in Old Hyderabad during Ramzan - v tasty
    Pb, no, not that I'm aware of, but the original recipe asked for coriander and I didn't have any, but I did have a few sprigs of curry leaves!
    Varsha, it was moist, yes, and full of flavour too.
    Cham, :-). Actually, it wasn't very creamy.

  15. mmmhhhmmmm...I am trying to inhale all the aroma. That was terrific combo. I like anything with coconut milk and especially biriyani gets that creamy touch with that. But you should have paired it up with a spicy chicken curry (to satisfy the other tasting souls). Rice made with coconut milk has a mellow taste and needs some spicy sides to perk it up. However I like to have that friend of your's who sends biriyani every year! Sra having enjoyed that all these years why shudn't u send me some to taste the hapiness of giving ;)

  16. I had a lot of Muslim friends growing up, and they used to bring Pathiri and Chicken Curry over after the celebrations... This post reminded me of how we used to look forward to that!
    Oh and I add curry leaves to everything, even biryani ;)

  17. Delicious-looking and sounding!

    That's a very nice family friend.

  18. Sra, Pulav seems to look tasty, lucky us a resturant close to home got a cook from hyderabad to make biryani and thanks to him our friday evenings are biryani nights.
    How have you been its been a while since I got a chance to bloghop.

  19. Sra,
    Biryani looks delicious ,i am sure it must be the coconut milk which imparts this flavor...
    Hugs and smiles

  20. This sound very tasty to me. I got some curry leaves as a gift and didn't know what to do with them so I put them in the freezer. I wonder if they are still good?

  21. I have to have some kind of raita with biriyani -- just seems like I've missed a key ingredient otherwise. This is such a simple recipe, and so flavorful too!

  22. I should do this. The spouse will come and hug you and be BFF with you. Loves biryani and has been dropping hints forever.

  23. In matters of taste, there is no dispute. (Old Roman statesman, whose name escapes me just now). I know I would be lining up for a second serving of this.

    Like the streamlined version, Sra.
    I've wanted to make biryani for a long time, but am working up to it - seems daunting, at very least in terms of time.

  24. the "pulao-rao" was really funny LOL!!
    never added coconut milk in my biriyani. can I do it with veg biriyani? looks so good!

  25. Ni, that biriyani doesn't come here, it's another city! :-( I'll make this for you.
    Sig, I've never had Pathiri, just heard of it.
    Paz, thanks.
    Sreelu, hi, busy with many things. Good to see you.
    Jaya, yes, it certainly makes a difference
    Kalyn, just try it, I've never needed to put them in the freezer.
    Sheetal, :-)
    Cynic, yeah, this is simple, no fuss.
    Susan, then this is the right place to begin - fuss-free. All you need to do is assemble the ingredients - that takes just five minutes, then it's a one-pot affair!
    Sharmi, hi, yes, I've mentioned the veggie substitutes as well! In fact, am planning to make it Sunday.

  26. looks yum!
    first time to ur blog and it is too good!
    do visit my blog when u find time and join in the savory event going in my blog!

  27. this biryani is making my mouth water, looks absolutely delicious!

  28. Wow!! I'm next in line for this biryani! :)


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