Chicken biryani brings back memories from my initial days of being married. My mother-in-law was very fond of chicken biryani, and whenever my husband and I would step out for dinner alone she would ask us to get a take away of the biryani, and soon it became an unsaid rule any time we went out. It was a real pleasure to watch her eat her favorite chicken biryani. She’s since passed away but every time I cook chicken biryani I so wish that she could be the first one to taste it.

The word “biryani” is derived from the Persian word “birian”, which means “fried before cooking” and “birinj”, the Persian word for rice. There are various theories related to the origin of this scrumptious dish. Many historians believe that biryani originated from Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals. Biryani was further developed in the Mughal royal kitchen.

INGREDIENTS
Chicken Marinade
• 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
• 10 grams garlic (grated)
• 10 grams ginger (grated)
• Chili powder (to taste)
• 1 tablespoon garam masala
• Hung curd or thick plain yogurt
• Salt to taste
• 750 grams skinless chicken (I used leg pieces) For Rice
• 6 cups water
• Salt to taste
• 5 pods green cardamom (smashed)
• 1 stick cinnamon
• 2 bay leaves
• Basmati rice (~2 cups) For Garnishing and Cooking
• 3-4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
• 2 medium onions (sliced thin)
• 10-15 cashews
• Handful cilantro leaves
• Handful mint leaves
• ½ cup milk
• Few strands of saffron
• 1-2 bay leaves
• Few black peppercorns
• 1 cinnamon stick

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a wok and fry onion slices till golden brown. Drain and place on an absorbent paper. Fry cashews till slightly brown, drain and place on an absorbent paper. Put the strands of saffron in the milk and set aside.

2. Now, take chicken pieces in a bowl. Add grated ginger, grated garlic, salt and mix well. Add the garam masala powder, red chili powder, half of the fried onions, yogurt and 1 tablespoon of oil and mix. Let it marinate for about two hours.

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3. Heat water in a deep pan and add rice, salt, bay leaves, five green cardamoms, one cinnamon stick and cook till three-fourth done. Drain the water and set aside.

4. Heat two tablespoons of ghee in a pan; add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, black peppercorns and sauté. Add marinated chicken, stir and cook on high heat for three to four minutes. Cover, reduce heat and cook till almost done.

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5 Now heat a spoonful of ghee in a thick-bottomed pan. Spread half the pre-cooked rice into a layer. Spread the chicken over the rice. Sprinkle torn mint leaves. Spread the remaining rice on top of the chicken layer. Garnish it with remaining fried onions, cilantro leaves, fried cashews and sprinkle saffron milk. Cover and cook under dum for 15-20 minutes on a very low fire. (Dum basically means that the steam should not escape out and the contents are cooked on very low fire. You can achieve this by sealing it with flour dough or putting weights on the top of the lid.)

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