Biryani, biriani, or beriani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word which means "fried" or "roasted".Biryani was originated in Iran (Persia) and it was brought to the Indian Subcontinent by Iranian travelers and merchants. Local variants of this dish are not only popular in South Asia but also in Arabia and within various South Asian communities in Western countries.
Based on the name, and cooking style (Dum), one can conclude that the dish originated in Persia and/or Arabia. It could have come from Persia via Afghanistan to North India. It could have also been brought by the Arab traders via Arabian Sea to Calicut. We know the history little better during 1800 to 1900. During Mogul empire, Lucknow was known as Awadh, giving rise to Awadhi Biryani. In 1856, British deposed Nawab Wajid Ali Shah in Calcutta, giving rise to Calcutta Biryani. Aurangzeb installed Nizam-ul-mulk as the Asfa Jahi ruler of Hyderabad, as well as a 'Nawab of Arcot' to oversee Aaru Kaadu region (Six Forrests) south of Hyderabad. These moves gave rise to Hyderabadi Biryani and Arcot Biryani. The Biryani spread to Mysore by Tipu Sultan of Carnatic. Needless to say it was a royal dish for Nawabs and Nizams. They hired vegetarian Hindus as bookkeepers leading to the development of Tahiri Biryani.
The main ingredient for biryani
The spices and condiments used in biryani may include but are not limited to: ghee, cumin, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint leaves, ginger, onions, and garlic. The premium varieties include saffron. For a non-vegetarian biryani, the main ingredient that accompanies the spices is the meat-beef, chicken, goat, lamb, fish or shrimp. The dish may be served with dahi chutney or Raita, korma, curry, a sour dish of eggplant (brinjal) or a boiled egg.
How biryani is different from pulao?
The difference between biryani and pulao is that while pulao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is used to denote a dish where the rice (plain or fried) is cooked separately from the thick sauce (curry of meat or vegetables). The curry and the rice are then brought together and layered, resulting in a dish of the contrasting flavors of unflavored rice (which has a hint of the aromas and juices of the curry) and intensely flavored sauce and meat or vegetables.
Fold the cheese cloth two time. Make a surface about 6"x6". Put spices in the center. Gather edges and tie a string.
Put chicken stock and spice Potli in a pot. Bring it to a boil. Cover. Let it steep on low heat for 20 minutes.
Add Cardamom pods to milk. Warm milk to 100 degree F. Crush saffron. Add saffron. Let it cool about 10 minutes. Add Kewra and Rose. Cover.
Wash and rinse Rice. Presoak in water for a minimum of 30 minutes. Drain. Heat Ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Stir in rice. Cook till it just starts to turn opaque white. Crush and sprinkle saffron. Add 4 cups of savory warm aroma broth. Bring it to a boil. Simmer covered for about 14 minutes. Turn off heat. Wait 10 minutes, the moisture will be absorbed.
Put all ingredients except the chicken in a food processor. Process to make a smooth paste. Rub the chicken with the paste. Cover and let it marinate for at least 4 hours. Overnight in refrigerator is preferred.
Heat Ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Add onions, saute till onions are clear. Pull out the marinated chicken Saute till chicken dry. Add 2 Tablespoons of marinate and 1/2 cup of savory warm broth. Cook covered about till almost all the moisture is gone.
Now we need to prepare items for the garnish layer. Keep all items separate. Sautee onions in Ghee till they are brown and caramelized. Stir-fry Almonds and Cashews so they start to turn brown.
Choose a deep pot to assemble Biryani. You must have a tight fitting lid for the pot.
Remember the top and bottom layers are always Rice. Lay a layer of rice. Add a bit of savory broth and sweet milk in circular motion, add a layer of chicken, add a 'garnish layer'. Now start over with the layer of rice. If it is the top layer of the rice, add the savory warm broth and sweet milk as before and the garnish layer.
We need to now follow Dum cooking (Cooking on low heat) in a Handi.
Make the seal by kneading dough. Apply sticky dough to the lid all the way around. Seal the pot with the lid.