Sunday, November 2, 2014

Hyderabadi Dum Chicken Biryani

It was my husband's birthday this past week. Being that it was a week-day, I didn't make anything elaborate.I made his favorite Hyderabadi dum chicken biryani this weekend!

By any account, Hyderabadi Dum Biryani is the king of all kinds of biryanis! Whoa!! What am I talking about?? Does this sound like jargon?? Okay, let me start at the very beginning, so that I can make this comprehensible to all readers! Biryani is a way of cooking rice with spices and some kind of meat.. Lamb, mutton, chicken. It can also be made using fish or eggs.. There is of course a vegetarian version too.. But that is pretty much like the pulao( pilaf). Now what is the difference between pulao and biryani?? Yes, both are dishes which contain rice mixed with chicken/fish/vegetables. The difference is that in pulao, the rice and the meat/fish/vegetable is cooked together. Whereas in biryani, the rice is pre-cooked until half-done, then layered with meat/chicken/fish which has also been separately cooked until half-done and then the two are arranged in alternate layers; cooked under dum and garnished with fried onions and cashew halves on top. What is dum? Dum is pretty much slow cooking either in the oven or on the stove-top on top of a cast iron pan, without bringing the pot in direct contact with the fire.

Mmmm... My mouth is watering already. Biryani is one of the top dishes offered in India. It is generally made on special celebratory occasions. There are several kinds of Biryani.. Bombay Biryani, Hyderabadi biryani, so on and so forth.. Hyderabadi Biryani is considered top notch and the best tasting.. Hyderabad is the capital of the state of Andhra Pradesh in India.  This biryani apparently originated in the royal kitchen of the Nizam Shahs  who ruled the region at the time.

Every Indian who likes Biryani prides themselves on making a good one. I have come across several recipes out there that are either too tedious with hundreds of steps to it or it just didn't taste right. Me being me.. I have neither the time nor the patience for long-drawn recipes that take all day to make. Therefore I was thrilled when my dear friend Phani( who is from Andhra Pradesh) shared this quick and easy recipe for Hyderabadi Dum Biryani. I have been making this for a few years now and I must say, it is absolutely fool-proof! I am yet to find a person who didn't like this Biryani! The addition of boiled egg halves before serving is not part of the original recipe.It is my modification as sometimes the Biryani is too spicy for me and this helps cut the spice level.

Whenever I make this Biryani, I make a huge batch in my Dutch oven as my husband looks forward to leftovers. I must say that this is the only non-vegetarian dish whose leftovers he eats!!! I think he secretly looks forward to every time I make this dish!;)

Servings: 6-8


Basmati rice: 3 cups
Water : 8 cups
Chicken with bones : 2 lbs, cleaned, chopped into medium pieces.
Red Onions: 3 medium, chopped lengthwise.
Cashew halves: 2 tbsp
Sour yogurt: 1 cup
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Lemon juice: 1 tsp
Haldi: 1 tsp
Chilli powder: 1/2 tsp
Green chillies: 6, chopped fine.
Bay leaves: 2
Cardamom pods: 4-6
Cinnamon stick: 2 nos
Shah jeera: 2 pods
Kalajeera: 1 tsp
Ghee: 2 tbsp ( optional)( you could use just oil instead of ghee)
Coconut oil: 2 tbsp( any cooking oil can be used)
Mint leaves: 1 cup, cleaned
Saffron:3-4 strands
Warm milk: 1 tbsp
Hard boiled eggs: 4, sliced into 2( optional), for garnishing.
Salt: as per taste.


Marinate the chicken pieces with a little salt, lemon juice, haldi powder, red Chilli powder and keep aside for atleast 30 mins.

Fry sliced onions in ghee-oil mixture until golden and crispy . Drain on paper towels.

Fry cashew halves in the same oil and keep aside.

Now sauté cinnamon, clove, cardamom, bay leaves, kala jeera, shahi jeera in the same oil for 1-2 mins and keep aside.

Soak basmati rice in water for 30 minutes. Drain and let it dry for another 30 mins.

Boil water with 1/2 tsp salt . When the water comes to a boil, add the basmati rice. Cook it only until the rice crackles( half-done, takes around 10 minutes). Drain using a colander. Keep aside.

Cook the chicken until half-cooked. Let it cool down.

Once cooled, add to it ginger garlic paste, yogurt, salt, the fried whole spices, half of the fried onions and cashew halves, green chillies, mint leaves. Mix well.

Soak the saffron strands in warm milk for 10 mins. Mix this into the warm rice.

Preheat the oven to 400 deg F.

Take the chicken in a oven-safe pot( I use a Dutch oven). Spread it along the entire bottom of the pot. 

Now layer the half-cooked rice on top of this.

Cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil.

Close the lid and place it in the oven for 45minutes to 1 hour, checking in between.

When done, garnish with the removing fried onions/ cashew halves and boiled egg halves.

Mix well before serving.

Serve hot with onion raita and/or chopped onions dressed with lemon juice and salt.


I am bringing this to Angie's Fiesta Friday! I know it is a little late in the day to bring it but I am sure the wonder ful and Angie and her co-hosts Jhuls and Margy wouldn't mind and would not want to miss out on this delicious dish!
I am also bringing this to Super simple Tuesdays by Hun whats for dinner?.

Cooking made easy:

If you don't have an oven, you could still make Dum Biryani by heating a cast iron frying pan/griddle on low flame and keeping the pot on top of the pan.

There is an even easier way, but if course is not the authentic Dum Biryani. This is by layering it in the rice cooker and letting it cook there. Though I have never personally used this method, I have seen my friend do it. It comes out perfect!

Tip for healthy living:

For those who are health conscious, most recipes that call for ghee can be substituted with a 50:50 ghee:oil mixture. This way you can enjoy the flavor and aroma of ghee too while being low in calories/fat content.

Food for thought:

The future of the distant and the difficult is deceptive.The great opportunity is where you are.John Burroughs

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