Sealed in Aroma – Secret to a Great Biryani
Biryani is one of the most popular Indian rice dishes around the world. But it comes in different tastes and variations. If you are curious to know what an authentic royal biryani really tastes like, you can sample our sumptuous Shahi Biryani. When you take the lid off the biryani pot, the aroma sealed in the biryani should beguile you. A good, authentic biryani should be delicious, fragrant and hard to resist.
We do not have any hesitations about sharing our culinary secrets here. Making a Biryani may sound easy, but the process of making a perfect Biryani involves various fine and delicate steps elaborated below.
Difference between Pulao and Biryani
Pulao and Biryani are the two kinds of Indian rice dishes which are often served at any formal dinner or lunch. The Biryani and Pulao are however different dishes, as their cooking methods are different.
Pulao is prepared by tempering the rice in clarified butter (desi ghee), and other spices. Water is meticulously measured and added to the rice. You need to add exact quantity of water to the rice to make a perfect Pulao. Often two cups of water are for one cup of rice for making Pulao. If you are using pressure cooker, you will need less water.
On the other hand, Biryani is prepared from parboiled rice, which is then layered with marinated meat and other ingredients, sealed properly and then put on “dum” for a minimum 45 minutes. To put the biryani on Dum means put it in a sealed vessel on very low flame such that all the savors get well blend together inside the pot.
When you cook biryani, rice is cooked individually and layers of vegetables or meat and rice are arranged on one another and cooked for long time on low flame. The best varieties of biryanis will have each and every rice grain separate. Biryanis are, in general, more dry compared to pulaos.
What is the Secret to a Great Biryani?
So, what is the secret of making a great biryani? There is no such big secret in making a good biryani, but it takes experience just like in most other things. Making a great biryani is a meticulous process, and you should not take short cuts!
The perfect biryani should be fluffy and light and not so saucy, oily or dense. The perfect biryani must have that flavor, aroma and texture that would make anyone’s mouth water.
First and basic of making the perfect biryani is that you must use the best quality ingredients. There are about 20 ingredients that go into the basic Biryani.- from long fine grained basmati rice to best cuts of meats, garlic, lemon, nuts and other spices. You must only use the best quality basmati rice that would give your biryani a wonderful flavor and appearance. You must also add fresh coriander leaves, mint leaves; melted ghee i.e. clarified butter, cooking oil and yogurt. There are more spices like coriander powder, anise powder, chili powder, biryani masala, cumin powder, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon, which are to be added to the Biryani. The ultimate Shahi Biryani, of course, has many more ingredients such as cashew nuts fried in desi ghee and expensive saffron strands.
You need not get scared of this long list of ingredients. These spices are used in very small amounts. Every spice is necessary for the overall flavor of the biryani. Most of these spices are available in any grocery store or super market. The clarified butter i.e. desi ghee is most important one. And when you use onions, they should be deep fried into ghee till they become light brown in color. Such onions are called “Barista”.
Kutchi vs. Pakki Biryani
There are two methods of cooking a chicken or mutton biryani. First one is Pakki Biryani. In Pakki Biryani, you need to cook the marinated chicken or mutton separately and then layer it with rice, seal it and cook it on a very low flame. Whereas, in Kutchi Biryani, you need to marinated meat at the bottom of a thick bottomed pot, cover it with parboiled rice, seal the pot with dough and cook it on very slow flame. Our Shahi Biryani is f in the kutchi style.
Whether your biryani will become perfect or not depends on how you parboil the rice. You must take care to never overcook the rice. You must soak the rice for few hours along with cashews, raisins and almonds. Then you cook the soaked basmati rice by adding salt, water and little oil or ghee until it is 3/4th done. Usually, some of the whole spices are added to the rice at the parboiling stage. Remember you should not cook the rice completely. It is also necessary to drain out excessive water and run the rice through cold water so that it helps in separating each grain.
Making of good biryani also includes how you marinate the meat. For proper marination, you need to marinate the meat with yogurt and spices. If you are making Kutchi Biryani, then you should fry the meat and all the spices in oil until you feel the nice aroma. You should not cook the meat completely. In Pakki Biryani, however, you should fry the meat and spices all together and cook the meat till it get completely done.
Deg Cooking Vessel – Secret of Hyderabadi Biryani
Are you trying to make your biryani in pressure cooker? An, you wonder why your biryani does not taste like the perfect one? Well it is not your fault; it is your utensil that is not supporting you to make a traditional Hyderabadi Biryani.
Making biryani is not an easy task as many recipe sites may say; especially when you wish to make an authentic biryani. Since you are cooking the rice and meat altogether, it require a lot of patience to make the biryani and you must pay high attention so that your rice should not be overcooked or meat should not remain undercooked. Also make sure that you are not using excessive water, because that will drain out the proteins in biryani, it will loses its texture and taste.
To attain all these properties of biryani, both the rice and the meat should be cooked in the sealed pot on a very low, evenly spread flame for a long time. To accomplish this, biryani is made in a special utensil known as Deg that is put on a charcoal or wood fire. You can say that, this is one of the secrets behind the best Hyderabadi Biryani.
After you layer the rice and the meat in the utensil, you need to place the lid and seal it with dough. The seal will ensure that the small quantity of water we are using not escape the vessel. This method is known as Dum-pukht and is borrowed from the Awadh cuisine. You should also leave around one fourth of the space free above the layers of meat and rice. The steam that gets collected in that free space will help in cooking the biryani uniformly.
Cooking a biryani is quite lengthy and delicate process, but it’s really worth it to have such a delicious treat. As you’d make the biryani only occasionally, just put your heart in your cooking and we promise you that you will be rewarded with a fabulous biryani.