I am not a food historian, so forgive me for any mistakes but from whatever little I have read it seems that the origins of ‘Biryani’ are a little sketchy when you read the history of food. Some accounts state that it was a Mughal take on the very basic Khichdi (a type of Rice and Lentil risotto) that was cooked by the peasants of India. There are other accounts of it being an offshoot of the Persian Pilau, which was the jewel in any Persian chefs crown. Aromatic, full of flavours, colours, meat and vegetables, the pilaus of Persia were to die for.
Since the Mughals were always at war, the chefs had to ensure there was always a huge quantity of food available for the ever hungry army. And what can be more filling than Rice and Meat? So the Mughals borrowed all the goodness of the humble Khichdi and the decadent Pilau, mixed it with Indian spices and aromatics and made it into the beautiful Biryani that we so love in India and Pakistan.
Well whatever the origins are I am sure everyone is thankful to the Mughals for inventing this dish.
There is something so amazing about a well cooked biryani that is neither too spicy, neither too bland. And I love making it as often as I can. Typically I make my own Biryani masala but now that I have discovered the ‘Bombay Biryani” masala by Shan Foods, I am more than happy to use a packet whenever I get Biryani eating pangs.
This is a fool proof recipe and gives me great results every single time. The best thing is I don’t have to do a lot of preparation before hand as the masala has all the ingredients to make a lovely Biryani in the comfort of your home without the added stress of preparation. Served with a refreshing Salad and chilled Raita, it doesn’t get any better.
Recipe (Cooking time 60 – 90 minutes, serves 6 – 8 generous portions)
1 Kgs Meat/Chicken on bones cut into small portions
3 ½ cups Basmati Rice washed and soaked
3 medium Onions finely sliced
3 -4 medium Tomatoes diced
2 medium Potatoes peeled and quatered
2 tbsp Garlic paste
2 tbsp Ginger paste
1 cup plain Yogurt (at room temperature)
1 cup Vegetable oil or Ghee
1 packed Shan Bombay Biryani masala mixed in ½ cup water
Prepare the Rice
In 15 cups of water add Salt and boil the rice till ¾ cooked. Drain all the water and keep the rice aside.
Prepare the Meat
Heat oil in a big pan. Add the Onions and fry till golden.
Add Tomatoes and fry, until oil seperates.
Add meat, Garlic & Ginger paste, Yogurt, Potatoes and Shan masala. Cover and cook on low heat until the meat is ender. Then increase the heat and stir fry till the oil seperates fro the gravy. Chicken will cook faster than Meat.
Arrange the Biryani
In another pot spread half of the rice and then layer all the meat. Top up with the remaining rice, cover for 15 minutes until the rice is fully cooked.
Garnish with fried Onions, Raisins, Pomegrante seeds, fresh Coriander before you serve.
Note: Another way to make the biryani is to marinate the meat in the yogurt with half of the Ginger garlic paste for a day before you cook.
You can also had a handful of chopped Coriander and Mint in the meat when you are cooking it.