Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Kolkata Chicken Biriyani with a Twist

In Kolkata, my favourite haunts for biriyani were Ali Baba and Aaminia. I was a regular there, paying visit almost once in a week. Kolkata biriyani is little different from the ones available outside
Kolkata. Kolkata biriyani is simple in concoction, less colorful with white and yellow streaks monopolizing the color and one special thing is there that I have not seen added to the biriyani of any other region - egg. Yes, you read right, egg is the specialty in Kolkata biriyani. No matter whether the order is placed for mutton or chicken biriyani, the items supplementing the biriyani in its entirety are hard-boiled eggs and big chunks of potatoes.


In Bangalore, our favourite joint for the same was Arsalan. Throughout Bangalore there is an array
of biriyani chains serving the delicacy in flavours, different from one another hook, line and sinker,
but the one suited our taste bud absolutely was of Arsalan, completed with an egg.


The following recipe slightly varies from the traditional Kolkata Biriyani, precisely for it being more
colorful in appearance to the original. For color, I have used two colors - orange and yellow food color. Unlike the traditional one, I have fried the eggs. For biriyani masala, either you may prepare the masala on your own from the very base just like me or you may opt for the one available in the market, the taste varying quite a bit then.


Furthermore, I have chosen to cook biriyani in microwave but if you are more oven-friendly then do the same in oven at the temperature mentioned below.

Ingredients :( for 4 servings)                               Cooking time: 1 hr 30 minutes
ü  8 big chicken leg and breast pieces (on the bones)
ü  250 gm long grain basmati rice
ü  4 eggs (hard boiled)
ü  1 medium size onion (julienned and browned)
ü  2 medium size potatoes, parboiled (cut in large cubes)
ü  1 small onion (chopped)
ü  1 1/2 tsp ginger paste
ü  1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
ü  1/4 cup yogurt, beaten
ü  2 tbsp grated khoya kheer or mawa
ü  1 tsp sugar
ü  1 tsp rose essence
ü  1 tsp kewra water
ü  A pinch of saffron (soaked in 1/2 cup of milk)
ü  2 tsp chat masala
ü  A pinch each of yellow and orange food color (optional)
ü  5-6 green chillies (chopped)
ü  2-3 green chillies (slit)
ü  Salt to taste
ü  2 green cardamoms
ü  4 cloves
ü  1 inch cinnamon stick
ü  4 bay leaves
ü  3 tsp ghee or more as per your taste
ü  White oil
For Biriyani masala:
ü  1 tsp caraway seeds or shah jeera
ü  4 green cardamoms
ü  2 brown cardamoms
ü  3 mace blades
ü  1 nutmeg
ü  1 tsp black peppercorns
ü  4-5 cloves
ü  1 tsp kabab chini
ü  1 inch cinnamon stick
ü  1 star anise
1) Wash the rice properly under running water. Then keep it soaked for 15 minutes. Drain the water.
2) Into the rice add 2 green cardamoms, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 4 cloves and 3 slit green chillies. Add 1 tsp ghee and measure out just amount of water required for cooking rice by 75%. (I cooked the rice in microwave. Usually it takes 18 minutes for cooking the basmati but for 3/4th cooking, I adjusted the timing to 13 minutes. If the amount of water exceeds the quantity needed, don't panic, just drain the rice of the excess water after it is cooked 3/4th.)
3) For biriyani masala, dry roast the ingredients mentioned above and grind them into fine powder.
4) Marinate the chicken with yogurt, chat masala, kewra water, ginger-garlic paste and generous amount of biriyani masala. (I added about 2 1/2 tbsp.) Mix a pinch of orange food coloring with the marinade. Combine everything well.
5) Heat oil in a wok. When oil turns hot, shallow fry the boiled eggs till they are golden brown in color. Set aside. (Don't forget to make few incisions upon the eggs before dropping them into the oil.)
6) Now toss in the parboiled potato cubes and fry till they change color to golden brown. Take them off the flame and keep aside.
7) Into the oil add the chopped onion and fry till translucent in color. Sprinkle sugar and stir in. Add the chicken pieces and shallow fry. Pour in the marinade and 1/4th amount of the browned julienne onions. Stir well to mix the ingredients. Toss in the green chillies and salt. Cook covered on medium heat for 10-15 minutes letting the spices incorporate the flavour. Add ghee. (I added 2 tsp ghee.)  Cover and cook again for 5 minutes. (Don't add water. The juice released by the chicken infused with ghee and spices will add a different flavour to the biriyani.)
8) Meanwhile, mix a bit of salt into the rice. Grease a microwave safe bowl with ghee or oil. Put 4 bay leaves at the bottom of the bowl. Spread rice evenly across the bowl. Place few potato cubes on this bed of rice, leaving a gap between two potatoes to squeeze in chicken pieces. Adjust room for two eggs. Sprinkle half amount of the remaining browned julienne onions and 1 tbsp of grated khoya kheer uniformly around. Further sprinkle a pinch of biriyani masala. Finally pour few spoonful of chicken juice on top. First layer is ready.
9) For the second layer, cover the first layer with another bed of rice. Strategically place potato cubes leaving space empty in between to allow room for chicken pieces. Squeeze in the eggs. Sprinkle the remaining browned onions and khoya kheer uniformly on top. Drizzle few spoonful of chicken juice and add a pinch of biriyani masala.
10) Cover the second layer with another bed of rice. Empty the remainder of the chicken juice around the rice and poke your forefinger into the layers of rice to make few holes few spaces apart. Drop the rose essence and a pinch of yellow color into the saffron infused milk and stream in the milk inside through the holes. Now seal the bowl with a microwave safe plastic wrap. If cooking in oven, then use aluminum foil for the purpose. With the pointed end of a skewer, punch across the wrap or foil few times to make vents for letting the steam out.
11) If cooking in microwave oven, then cook the biriyani at high power for 5-7 minutes. If cooking in regular oven, then at 350 F/180 C, cook the biriyani for 10 minutes.
12) Serve hot. Blissful!

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