Biryani Recipe (Part 1) – Chicken Masala

Ever since the visit to our local fishery port, I have lots of fish in my freezer. Hee had requested Indian-styled fried fish this night, and it would be my first attempt at cooking it.

Vanessa, “I want the biryani you cooked for us in Melbourne.”

It’s been 4 years since I’ve cooked biryani but what Vanessa wants, Vanessa gets! And the same goes for Valerie and TJ.

Valerie has not eaten my biryani before so this was a good chance to teach share with her my rustic rusty recipe.

What is Biryani and how is it different from Pulao (Pilaf)? While both are rice and meat/seafood/vegetable (which I will refer them as “meat” for simplicity) dishes, Biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice and/or meat is partially cooked separately, layered in a pot called handi (a deep, wide-mouthed cooking vessel) and then slow-cooked on low flame employing steam-and-pressure cooking technique to allow the assembled dish to “mature”.

 

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Some common Whole Spices commonly used in both Chinese (5-spice) and Indian cuisine.
Black Peppercorns (not shown), Cinnamon, Cloves, Green Cardamon, and Star Anise.

 

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Since you only need to use ¼ of the portion of whole spices involved, using powdered spices saves you money and time (no need to roast and grind).
As I could not find the brand I used in Melbourne, I got this “House Brand Biryani Masala” pre-mix from Mustafa at S$1.85, which by the way, is 30 cents cheaper than Sheng Shiong Supermarket!

 

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I am preparing partially cooked rice and partially cooked chicken so I have used very little oil/ghee when marinating the chicken (*see recipe below).
However, if you are going to cook biryani with partially cooked rice and raw chicken, use ½ cup vegetable oil/ghee in the marindae instead since you will not be stir-frying them at all.
I used 1 cup yoghurt and 1 cup milk but you can use 2 cups yoghurt and no milk.

Chicken Marinade:
1 kg to 1.5kg Chicken (cut into big chunky parts with bone-in, OR use only whole breast or whole leg).
1 package of Biryani Masala (125g House Brand).
2 – 3 Bay Leaves.
A few sprigs of Cilantro (root intact).
Whole Spices (I used 2 cinnamon sticks, 8 black peppercorns, 8 cloves, 8 green cardamons slightly cracked open, 8 star anise).
Salt (I used 2 tsp Sea Salt, but you can start with lesser and adjust according to taste while frying).
1 cup Yogurt (natural, or non-flavoured, I used Greek).
1 cup Fresh, Pasteurised or Evaporated Milk (I used Meiji Brand).
1 Tomato, diced.
½ canned Tomato Paste, optional (I used about 35g – Del Monte Brand).
2 tablespoons Garlic Ginger Paste (the ratio when making your own is 1:1, I used the garlic masher tool to extract paste for both the garlic and ginger).
2 tablespoons Fried Onions (I used fried shallots).
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil (I used a dollop of Ghee a.k.a. Clarified Butter).
Enough oil for stir-frying chicken later (no more than ½ cup). Read *comment in picture above.

Duration: 2 hours – overnight in fridge.

Method:

Heat up a fry-pan/wok with ½ cup Vegetable Oil over high heat and fry the chicken till they are half cooked. Again, I used ghee instead vegetable oil and used “sufficient amount” as I usually cook by sight (agak agak system) and had forgotten to measure the ghee but you can ignore the excess amount of oil after cooking had you used too much.
Once the chicken pieces have taken on some colour, I cover the wok with a lid to “steam cook” them.
Remember to give it a stir every now and then, scraping the bottom of wok to prevent burnt.

While the chicken is cooking, bring a pot of water to the boil in preparation for cooking the Basmati rice that has been soaked for an hour. Recipe in next post.

 

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A Good Biryani is composed of:
1) fluffy fragrant Basmati rice ~
You can tell if the basmati is of good quality by smelling the uncooked rice, it should have strong scent.
2) tender succulent meat ~
Ever wonder why biryanis are usually served with large pieces of chicken or mutton? Hunky chunky’s the way to retain moisture, keeping the comestible juicy and delicious! If you like bite-size protein, cut them after cooking.

 

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While most chefs will tell you to marinate the meat for 4 hours at least and better still left overnight in the fridge…

 

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I did not have that luxury of time this night.
My kampong chicken had about an hour or two to wallow in the “mud” but the result was still good. My family members gave the thumbs up!
While the chicken is soaking up the ayurvedic goodness, wash and soak the basmati rice.

 

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Heat up a fry-pan/wok with ½ cup Vegetable Oil over high heat and fry the chicken till they are half cooked. Again, I used ghee instead vegetable oil and used “sufficient amount” as I did not measure.
Once the chicken pieces have taken on some colour, I cover the wok with a lid to “steam cook” them.
Remember to give it a stir every now and then, scraping the bottom of wok to prevent burnt.

 

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Biryani or Pulao?
Spiced rice will always be nice!

How to cook basmati and layer the biryani will be featured in my upcoming post Biryani Recipe (Part 2) – Spiced Rice Is Nice!

 

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Masala Fish Fry – look out for the upcoming recipe!

For those of you who prefer fish, I will be posting Masala Fish Fry Recipe and it goes very well with this biryani.

See other chicken biryani posts I blogged when we were living in Australia:
Biryani (Short Cut)
Nasi Biryani (Chicken)

Happy cooking, eating and bonding! 🙂

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