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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Kolkata Style Chicken Biryani

The Indian subcontinent in the past has been subject to many invasions and with every invasion came the culture and cuisines of its invaders. The Turks, Arabs, Persians and Afghans in particular left behind the culture of great feasts. However, the reign of the Mughals from 15th to 19th century left the deepest impact on the culinary habits of the subcontinents residents. Being artistic as that they were, the Mughals looked upon cooking as a form of art. They enjoyed the finest of foods and enhanced their flavors with the use of exotic spices. It is largely concluded that the Mughals introduced to the region specialties such as Biryani and Kebabs.

While it is largely believed Biryani originated in Persia and came this way through the Mughals, other possibilities and theories about the arrival of Biryani in Indian also exist. It could have come from Persia via Afghanistan to North India and it could have also been brought by the Arab traders via the Arabian Sea to Calicut, Kerala. Some believe that the Muslim ruler Taimor brought the dish to India from Persia in 1394. Another interesting Biryani story from the Mughal era is when Mumtaz Mahal, wife of Shah Jahan once made a surprise visit to the army barracks and discovered that the armymen were undernourished. She asked her chef to cook a dish with rice, meat and spices which would be a complete meal providing balanced nutrition to the warriors. While there are many legends as to how Biryani made its way into India, there is no doubt that Islamic Persians are responsible for popularizing the dish amongst the locals of the subcontinent.
There is an interesting story about the birth of Kolkata biryani. When Wajid Ali Shah, the last nawab of Awadh was exiled in 1856 to the Kolkata suburb of Metiaburj, he did not forget to bring his personal Chef with him as he was very particular about his food. They arrived here with their biryani recipes which then evolved with time to create its own distinct identity. In addition, Calcutta biryani is much lighter on spices (Masala) than compared to other Biryanis and distinguishes itself by its use of whole potatoes which absorbs the stock and spices during the cooking process.

Now let's move on to the recipe...................................

Ingredients for assembling the briyani:

Basmati Rice : 2 cups
Onions : 2 , thinly sliced(***for making beresta)
Potato : 2-3(cut into half/quarter)
Ghee/clarified butter : 2 tblsp.
Ginger Julienne : 2 tblsp.(ginger cut into thin long strips)

Saffron : few strands soaked in 3-4 tblsp. warm milk

Bay leaves : 2
Cardamoms : 3-4 nos.
Cinnamons : 2(1" stick)
Kewra water : 2-3 tsp.
Salt to taste
Biryani Masala(store bought) : 1 tblsp.

Meetha Attar(flavouring used in Biryani and same kind of dishes) : 1 tsp. (it's optional, but it gives the special flavour to Biryani-available in Indian grocery stores)

Ingredients for making chicken :::::::
Chicken : 500 Gm.
Oil : 2 tblsp.
Onion : 3, finely chopped
Ginger(grated) : 2 tblsp.
Garlic(grated) : 2tblsp.
Green chillies : 2(finely chopped)
Tomatoes(chopped) : 3(medium)
Curd/yogurt : 1/2 cup
Lemon juice : 1 tsp.
Black Pepper powder : 1 tsp.
Bay leaf : 1
Black cardamom: 1
Green Cardamom : 3-4
Cloves : 3-4
Cinnamon : 2(1" pieces)
Turmeric powder : 2 tsp.
Red Chilli powder : 2-3 tsp.(as per your taste)
Coriander Powder : 2 tsp.
Garam masala Powder : 2 tsp.
Biryani masala(store bought) : 2 tsp.
Salt to taste

How To ::::::

Preperation :
  1. Cut the chicken into medium size pieces and wash them. In a bowl, take curd, little salt, 1 tsp. red chilli powder, black pepper powder, 1 tblsp. each of ginger and garlic paste and lemon juice. Mix all the spices well and marinate the chicken pieces in this spice mix for at least 1 hour. More the merrier.
  2. Clean and soak the rice in water for 1/2 an hour. 
  3. Cut potatoes in big chunks and boil them just until done, do not overcook them. Set aside.
  4. Take 4 tblsp. warm milk and soak saffron strands in it for 1/2 an hour.
Cooking :
  • To make the riceTake a big bowl, boil water and add rice in it. Flavour the water with 1 bay leaf, 2-3 cardamoms, 2-3 cloves and 1 cinnamon stick. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until rice is 1/2 done. This is very important. Otherwise, rice will look messy, not separated. Drain and keep the whole spices with rice.
  • For biryani, we need to prepare brown and crispy fried onions. For that, take a frying pan, add the whole oil in it. Deep fry the sliced onions until brown and crispy. Take out, soak the excess oil in kitchen tissue and set aside.
  • Smear some salt and turmeric powder on boiled potatoes and fry in the same oil until brown from all sides. Set aside.
  • To prepare the chicken : Take out 2-3 tblsp. oil from the pan, keep about 3-4 tblsp. oil in there. Add 1 bay leaf, 1 black cardamom, 2-3 nos. of each cardamoms, cinnamon and cloves. When they turn slightly brown and start to crackle, add chopped onions. Saute till they change their color. Add rest of the ginger-garlic paste and green chillies. Stir for a minute or two. 
  • Then add chopped tomatoes and all the powdered spices. Mix well and when oil starts to come on the top, add marinated chicken and mix well with spice paste. Cook in medium flame for about 7-8 minutes. When oil separates, add 1 cup hot water in it, season with salt and with closed lid in medium flame let it cook.
  • When water dries up completely and chicken is cooked, remove from heat. Water have to dry up completely and the gravy will coat nicely with the chicken pieces. 
  •  Finally, to assemble rice and chicken
  •  Divide the cooked rice in 3 portions and cooked chicken in 2 portions.Take a wide and big pan. Add 1 tblsp. Ghee/clarified butter, spread evenly a portion of cooked rice, pour a little of saffron soaked milk with saffron allover the rice, sprinkle little salt, 1/2 of ginger juliennes, 1 tsp. garam masala powder/biriyani masala, 1/2 tsp. of meetha attar and 1/2 tsp. of kewra water. Then spread one portion of the cooked chicken evenly allover the rice. 
First layer of rice and chicken
  • Again spread a layer of rice. Repeat with salt, saffron milk, 1 tsp. of garam masala/biriyani masala, Meetha attar, kewra water and ginger juliennes. Again spread the last portions of cooked chicken and a final layer of cooked rice. Repeat with salt, saffron milk, 1 tsp. of garam masala/biriyani masala, Meetha attar, kewra water, ginger juliennes and finally spread an even layer of the fried onions/beresta.
Final layer of rice with fried onions and other spices
  • Making the biryani in Dum:: Cover with aluminium foil or a tightly closed lid. You can seal the edges of the pan or just put some weight over the lid, so that the steam can't escape and the biryani gets cooked in Dum, i.e., in very slow fire and all the spices and herbs can incorporate well in rice and chicken. For that, keep the pan on a griddle plate/tawa and heat the tawa in low flame, Keep the pan for about 20 minutes. When done, keep the lid closed until serving.

  • All the goodness of spices and herbs will intermingle and you will get a delicious, flavourful Chicken Biriyani. When serving, just give the whole thing a quick stir and serve. Biriyani should accompany a raita and salad. 
Cucumber Raita :
Raita is a Spicy Indian condiment, based on yogurt/dahi, used as a sauce or dip. Raita is a neccesary accompaniment with Biryani/Pulao.

 Preperation : Take 1 cup of yogurt in a bowl, beat a little with a spoon. Add salt to taste, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. red chilli powder(or to taste), 1 tsp. roasted cumin seed powder. Mix well. Add chopped cucumber in it and mix well again. Serve.

Garnish : garnish with onions rings and sliced boiled eggs on top
Serving Suggestion : Biryani is always served with fresh salad made with tomato, cucumber and onions and with a bowl of raita(recipe is above).

Sunday, August 23, 2015 / by / 6 Comments


  1. Chicken biriyani looks so tempting.

  2. Whenever I go to Kolkata I bring few small bottles of Attar which really gives a distinct aroma . This layered style biryani looks tempting

    Hamaree Rasoi

  3. Slurp, mouthwatering briyani,looks absolutely wonderful and inviting..

  4. Mouthwatering biryani..makes me hungry.

  5. Looks so gorgeous and inviting...


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