This Sofyani Biryani is one of the most divine tasting biryani’s ever! Now there are a lot of different biryani’s out there and I have many that I love. This one is right up there in the top three. It is Hydrabadi and is delicate in flavor. The saffron mixed in yogurt drizzled over the rice, renders it with beautiful specks of gold and an aroma that is to die for. You really taste a very gorgeously fragrant combination of spices intermingling with the notes of lemon. I had eaten this type of biryani before but never knew how to make it, lucky I decided to try out this recipe from my favorite book “Prashad, cooking with Indian Masters” and the results were spectacular!!! The flavors are really unique and you must give it a go if you are a biryani lover.
You will notice this recipe calls for shah zeera or black cumin which is a more delicate flowery variety of ordinary cumin it is thinner, darker and sweeter than its ordinary cousin. You will notice the beautiful aroma and flavor is only released when you fry or toast the shah zeera. If you do not have it by all means use the ordinary cumin, but it is worth the effort to get it, and the flavor is so much better for this dish in particular.
Also you will see that the recipe asks you to make a quick dough with flour and water and seal the dish so no steam can escape out of the pot and all the flavors remain inside while it is baked in the oven. This technique is called giving “Dum” to the dish. I find putting a double layer of tin foil over the edges of your pot and pressing the foil down and then placing a tight fitting lid on it does the same job. I am basicaly too lazy to make the dough and find this works just as well. I am sure the masters would not be too pleased with my antics, but hey…a girl has to take whatever timesaving short cuts she can in the kitchen.
800 gms – chicken
450 gms – basmati rice
150 gms – ghee
whole garam masala
6 – green cardamom
2 – black cardamoms
6 – cloves
2 sticks – cinnamon (1-inch)
2 – bay leaves
a pinch – mace
2 tsp – black cumin seeds (shah zeera)
100 gms – onions
4 tsp – ginger paste
4 tsp – garlic paste
2 tsp – red chilli powder
500 gms – yoghurt
2 tbsp – lemon juice
1 tsp – saffron
2 tbsp – milk
1/3 cup – mint
1/3 cup – coriander
salt to taste
- Cut the chicken into 8 pieces.
- Soak the rice in a pan for 30 mins.
- Drain, replenish with fresh water.
- Add salt and half each of the whole garam masala and black cumin, bring to a boil and cook until rice is almost done. Drain.
- Peel, wash and slice onions.
- Clean, wash and chop mint and coriander.
- Then whisk the yoghurt in a bowl and divide into 2 equal portions.
- Dissolve saffron in warm milk.
- Add one portion of the yoghurt and mix well.
- Then pre-heat oven to 370ï¿½F.
- Heat ghee in a pan, add the remaining whole garam masala and black cumin, saute over medium heat until cumin begins to crackle.
- Add onions and saute until golden brown.
- Then add ginger paste, garlic paste and red chillies, stir for 15 seconds, add chicken and fry for 2 mins.
- Add the portion of the plain yoghurt, stir, add water (approx. ï¿½ cup + 4 tsp.), bring to a boil, then simmer until chicken is 3/4ths cooked.
- Sprinkle lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning.
- In the pan with the semi-cooked chicken, sprinkle half each of the saffron-yoghurt, mint and coriander.
- Then spread half the rice over the chicken.
- Sprinkle the remaining saffron-yoghurt, mint and coriander, spread the remaining rice.
- Place a moist cloth on top, cover with a lid and seal with dough.
- Put the sealed pan on pressure in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 mins.
- Break the seal, shift the rice from one side (just enough to remove the chicken), make a bed of chicken in a rice dish, spread the rice on top and serve.