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Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani




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MFB Challenge is completing a year!!!! and guess what is the theme this month? Well, NO theme is the theme because we were asked to pick any theme from the past 11 months challenges. I am sharing a favourite kind of chicken biryani called Hyderabadi Kacchi Biryani. A very common one right? I know, but when it has such a beautiful memory then it should occupy my blog. Before that, want a recap of the challenges we made through?
  1. Cooking from “Chef in Disguise”
  2. Cooking with Dates
  3. Biriyani
  4. Cooking from the Scrapbook
  5. Indonesian Cuisine
  6. Cooking from “Shab’s Cuisine”
  7. Ramadan Memories
  8. Cooking with Honey
  9. Meat recipes
  10. Pakistani Cuisine
  11. Cooking a bookmarked dish from a Muslimah blogger
Images and recipes updated as on 13th March 2020.

Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani

When this month's challenge was announced, I wanted to make up for the two that I missed - Cooking with Honey and Pakistani Cuisine. But I was so tied up and lacked the desire to cook up something new because I was tending to Ragee most of the time. Her last few days, we spent watching Videos for Cats together on youtube and she used to doze off while the birds kept chirping...  So, I thought I rather settle for this Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani than miss the challenge. 

I had fallen in love with Hyd biryani during my work-life in Bangalore and it remained as my most favourite biryani. The first time I attempted this kacchi biryani was even before I started the blog and when there were no restaurants here serving Indian food. I followed some random recipe and made it with so much love and excitement. I so well remember how I danced with joy when I saw the rice was cooked to perfection. But something didn't go well with F - he got up - washed his hands - and said very kindly  - "Don't make this again".  I was not upset, but shocked - Why? What was wrong? Seems he was not happy with the chicken being cooked that way. You know, we place the marinated chicken on the bottom and it gets cooked in the dum. I think some pieces looked uncooked to him. No amount of explanation bought him to eat it...so I had to finish it over the week. Goodbye Hyderabadi Biryani. I hate you.

After I made the Thalassery Chicken Biryani for the blog, I thought I should revisit Hyderabadi Biryani at least to wipe his bad experience. Now that I am equipped with some knowledge and sense of cooking, alhamdulillah, I planned my biryani prep to make it an easy Friday lunch.

Prepared the fried onions and marinated the chicken previous night and next day all I had to do was cook the rice 50% and then assemble both chicken and rice in a biryani pot, seal and cook until done! 

I realized this is the easiest biryani I can make with just eyeballing. And guess what - F loved it and the pots were wiped clean. I had shared on Instagram too... and honestly, I don't remember what changes I made from the first attempt. But clearly, I was getting better at reaching his heart. 

The third attempt was prepared when Ragee was on medication and wouldn't eat much solid food. Even though I planned just like earlier, I was fatigued by the time I served the biryani on the table and all I wanted was to just sit and rest. Instead, I was trying hard to take some good picture,... but I was not convinced what I was seeing in the frame, and no amount of re-arranging was giving me the 'good feeling', I called it quits and sat to eat.

Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani

With a dull face that I can't hide I hoped at least it tasted good to lift my spirit. F approved it this time too and silently we wiped clean the pot ...but what actually lifted my spirit was Ragee, who always is part of our meal table to watch us eat - actually came forward to eat the chicken! I was so thrilled as this was the first time she ate what I cooked for us - and she ate well. She was never keen on eating our food but this was a delightful surprise!

Hyderabadi Kachi Chicken Dum Biryani

But then she is no more. :-( Cooking is therapeutic and I am a true example. After a week of grief, I was not getting any better, so turned my focus to this challenge and made Makrout - an Algerian cookie made with Date paste and semolina - deep fried and soaked in honey.

Makrout - Algerian cookie

I would have shared Makrout recipe as it was my long-time bookmarked, has honey, has dates and is adapted from a Muslimah blogger, was in fact on my scrapbook too - that covers 5 challenges! :-) But I decided on the Biryani even though I am not happy with the pics because you know... the memory associated with this dish is closer to my heart. 

I just realized I haven't talked about the dish. Do I have to? We all know about this most popular biryani right? I guess this is global food now! But for the purpose of 'food blog' ethics, Hyderabadi biryani originated as an amalgam of Mughlai and Iranian cuisine in the kitchens of the Nizam, then rulers of the historic Hyderabad State of India. Made with exotic whole spices and yoghurt with chicken or mutton, and basmati rice, this biryani defines royal food and so quality brings the best flavours. 

I guess for beginners the only fear in making this biryani would be the doneness of the meat or chicken. That is why it is important to marinate overnight and use natural meat tenderizer like yoghurt, vinegar, lime juice etc especially if using mutton or beef. Also, if you use runny yoghurt or curd, then the chances of rice getting swishy are high. Don't cut down on fried crispy onions, they impart a major flavour too.

Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani

Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani Recipe

INGREDIENTS

For crispy fried onions
2 to 3 large onions, sliced finely and strands separated
enough cooking oil to deep fry

Marinate and keep refrigerated overnight
500gms chicken pieces
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons caraway seeds (shah jeera)
a small piece of mace, crushed
4 green cardamom
1.5-inch cinnamon stick
5 cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon red chilli powder
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
2 to 3 green chillies, slit
1/2 cup thick yoghurt
a handful of fresh mint leaves
3/4 cup crispy fried onions
1/4 cup oil (from the fried onion, preferably)

For par-boiling the rice 
1 and 1/2 cups basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained or as per packet instructions
6 cups of water
2 cardamom
2 cloves
2 green chillies, slit
1 and 1/2 tablespoon fine salt

Others
a pinch of saffron strands, soaked in 2 tablespoons of hot water
A handful of fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fried onions
1/4 cup water - reserved after parboiling the rice

METHOD

  • Previous day night, 
    • prepare the fried onions batch
    • marinate the chicken
    • soak saffron
  • Next day 
    • prepare the rice, 
    • assemble and dum cook the biryani 
Prepare the crispy fried onions 
  1. Heat enough oil in a wide shallow pan or kadai
  2. Separate the strands of the sliced onions with your hands
  3. Test the oil by dropping one small onion strand, if it sizzles up then you can continue
  4. Drop the onion strands into the hot oil ensuring to spread out and not overlap
  5. Keep the flame low to medium all time, stir in between to fry evenly and fry till you see the onions changing shades 
  6. Remove the onions with a slotted spoon on time before they get burnt. The onions will continue to cook even when you take it out, so remove when you see the golden light brown shade. 
  7. Spread the fried onions on a paper towel to drain the excess oil (It will become crispy as it cools)
  8. Let cool before storing in an airtight box in the freezer
Marinate the Chicken 
  1. Add the chicken and salt into a bowl and mix thoroughly 
  2. Add rest of the marinade items and mix thoroughly with your hand preferably 
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 6 hours 
  4. Take it out 30 minutes before you start the rice prep
Prepare the Rice
  1. Boil the water in a deep large pot with salt, green chillies, cardamoms and cloves
  2. Stir in the drained rice and bring to boil on high flame
  3. Reduce to medium flame and boil for just about 90 seconds to 2 minutes (50% cooked) and switch off 
  4. Drain the rice in a colander immediately
  5. Reserve 1/4 cup of water for later
Prepare the Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani Pot
  1. If making in oven, then preheat the oven at 170c with rack in level 2
  2. Spread the marinated chicken in a single layer on the bottom of the biryani pot
  3. Spread the drained rice evenly and pour the reserved water all around
  4. Add the fried onions, mint leaves and saffron water (you may squeeze some lemon juice or rose water and a few dollops of ghee for extra flavour)
  5. Cover and seal the pot with foil and then with the lid
  6. If making on a stove-top, place a heat diffuser (or any flat pan) on medium flame and keep the biryani pot over the diffuser. This will ensure even heat distribution and prevent burning of food and dum cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour. For the oven, keep it up to 1 hour. 
  7. Open and remove the foil - let it cool for 5 minutes before you stir the rice 
  8. Serve hot with cold salads, kachumber raita, papadams etc. or traditionally served with Mirch ka salan. 

NOTES:

  • Crispy fried onions is a must and so should not be skimmed or skipped 
  • Make sure the marination is not too runny, so use only thick yoghurt. 
  • Freeze any leftover fried onions in an airtight box for later use
Hyderabadi Kacchi Chicken Biryani

For those uninitiated, Kacchi means Raw - When the meat is added raw to the biryani pot, then it is Kacchi and Pakki is when cooked meat is added to the biryani pot and is mostly layered.


Update: The recipe and content was updated in March 2020

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