Sing ye all good folks- Joy to my world!! I finally got my hands on the most divine recipes of all!!! The recipe that eluded me all these years, taunted my taste buds in ever so many occasions, teased my nostrils with its titillating whiff, ignored my yearning lustful eyes and and mockingly snuck away from my greedy grasps. YES!! I have it with me today. And who do I have to thank? My darling little niece, Sneha, who meticulously jotted down the recipe from her Muslim friend at school. My sweetheart cousin Jasmine, who trusted her daughter and her friend and followed the recipe to the T-recreating it, so the doubting Thomas in me would believe. And my dear BIL EJ, who in seconds notice had the recipe scanned and printed for me to treasure – FOREVER!!! Now ain’t mine a dandy sweet family??! It sure is.
All those who have known me for even just about a week, let alone years, would have had an earful about my long, unfailing loveand fidelity to what I think is the supreme food of all – The Muslim Biryani. For several years I tried making it deciphering it by taste. Experimenting with different combinations of spices and ingredients, I failed miserably though. I realize now, I was over thinking it the whole time. And since the proof is ALWAYS in the pudding, there is no doubt the arrogant me would have taken one look at Sneha’s notes and dismissed it as too simple to be true if Jasmine hadn’t made it that day so I could see, taste and believe.
My 4 attempts at trying this recipe were all successful barring one. The exception happened when I tried it at my sister Sophie’s where she stood beside me second guessing all the measurements and where after the first whistle of the pressure cooker, the kitchen was consumed by the powerful aroma of the Muslim Biryani , she proudly declared – yes we have done it. With just this premature avowal all hell broke loose. If she had ever cared to listen to my books of providence she would have known that you NEVER EVER go proud on your dish until you’ve tasted the first spoon, and if you are stupid enough to do that, you are screwed!! Of course only because of that, the pressure cooker malfunctioned and we had to schlep burnt Biryani to the garbage bin. But, there is one thing worth mentioning though, the burnt carcass still smelt divine!!! So, if I were you, while following this recipe, I would not go second guessing it nor would I make any presumed declarations!
All these years I always thought that the orange-ish red color of the Muslim Biryani came from the tomatoes and the saffron. I couldn’t be more wrong. Apparently it is from the red chili powder. Something that I never use in any of my Biryanis. And for the color, I added a lot of tomatoes -Mistake number 1. In spite of what my sister Sony thinks, I’m always tight fisted when it comes to using oil and ghee in my cooking. I maintain that while making Biryanis as well – Mistake number 2. There is no way that you can cringe on oil and ghee while making the Muslim Biryani. The onions and lots of ginger garlic, deep fried in ghee and oil is what gives this Biryani a totally new dimension.
1 lb skinless chicken cut into medium sized pieces
1 large or 2 medium or 3 small onions finely sliced
1large tomato, diced in chunks
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp ginger–garlic paste
5, 1/4 inch pieces of cinnamon
2 crushed cardamom
3 cups jeera samba/basmati rice
1/2 cup curd
pinch of saffron
1/2 cup refined vegetable oil
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tsp red chili powder, alter this based on tolerable spice level
1tsp paprika/ kashmiri mirch
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste