I lovvve biriyani! The fragrant, colorful rice, the tangy, spicy sauce, the succulent pieces of meat. What’s not to love. And chicken tikka biriyani is my absolute favourite. You get good biriyani in restaurants for sure but nothing beats the scrumptiousness of good old homemade biriyani. Biriyani is really not difficult to make, it is just a lengthy process. So, go for it when you are really in the mood to cook. Onward to the recipe.
1/2 kg boneless chicken, cut into small chunks
2 cups basmati rice
2 big onions, chopped
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cup curd
1 cup birista or thinly sliced, fried onion
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 cup chopped coriander
1 cup chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
3 teaspoon tandoori chicken masala
3 tablespoons raisins
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
1 teaspoon red chilli powder
2 green chillies, slit
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin and coriander seeds powder
2 tablespoons butter
Pinch of cardamom powder
Salt, as per taste
Yellow, red and green food color
Phew! That is a long list of ingredients all right. But nothing worth doing is easy, right? Start with the chicken. Marinate the chicken in half of the curd, half of the ginger garlic paste and red chilli powder and the tandoori chicken masala. Let it Marinate for at least an hour. Just before grilling the chicken, add some red food color. I have used a grill pan to make my chicken tikka. It takes very little oil and is quite quick. You can also use an oven or tandoor to make your tikka. Moving on to the rice. In a big, deep pan bring to boil about 6 cups of water. To the water add cardamom powder, oil, bay leafs and half of the cardamom, cloves and peppercorn. When the water is nicely boiling, add the rice. Cook till almost done. Strain and set aside. Lightly fluff the rice with a fork after a few minutes, add yellow color on part of the rice and green on the other and gently mix it so that about a fifth of the rice gets colored.
Now, for the masala. In a pan, heat oil and some butter. Add the remaining whole condiments. Once they emit fragrance, about 2-3 minutes, add the chopped onions. Once the onions are pinkish brown, add the chopped tomatoes and salt, cover and let simmer for about 5-7 minutes. In a mixie, grind half of the cashewnuts with some water. Now, add the curd, tomato puree, cashew paste, all remaining spices, one cup water, cover and cook till the oil separates from the sauce, about 7-10 minutes. Add your chicken and let it all simmer together for another 10 minutes. Open add a tablespoon of birista, 1/2 tablespoon butter, third of the raisins and sprinkle with coriander and mint leaves. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
Now, for the assembling. In a big, deep bottomed pan heat some butter and fry the remaining cashews for 2-3 minutes. Remove the cashews on a plate. To the pan, add a thin layer of rice. Sprinkle the rice with some birista. Now add a layer of the chicken tikka masala. Now another player of rice. Top it with birista, butter, coriander and mint. To this, add all the remaining chicken masala. Top with remaining rice, butter, fried cashews, raisins, birista, mint leaves and coriander. Cover with a plate and place something heavy on the lid so that the flavours remain inside. You can also seal the lid and vessel together with some wheat dough. Let it cook on slow flame for 10-15 minutes. Open the lid, take a moment to swoon, pat yourself on the back and dig in!