Unusually the anecdote for this post has to be longer. This can be one of the posts I enjoyed writing:) . I intend to register some of my memories on this 'TamilNadu Muslim marriage special Biryani'.
North Indian biryani and Hyderabadi Biryani are entirely different from the TamilNadu Muslim's version. Both have different but adorable taste:) In TN , the rice is cooked in the gravy along with meat (known as the Arabian method). While in the other versions, they cook the rice and meat separately and mix afterward in the dham process.
I am sure any one out there who have tasted the biryani in a TN Muslim marriage (or the one prepared by a chef trained to do so) can never forget that stunning taste. Some years ago , as soon as I started my career, I happened to work in an office , where I met an interesting Accountant, whose hobby is to cook for wedding parties. Beyond the regular office job and despite of his wealthy background he had a crew to join him for this extra job, which he liked very much. One of my colleague told me about this famous chef who happened to sit in the midst of many files.
On my request, without any hesitation he shared me the secrets beyond this famous biryani and some interesting facts too.
From then whenever I prepare a biryani, I remember the way he passionately explained me:)
Noting his version below to appreciate and enjoy.
1.They use only halal meat. (So crazy viki, started buying halal meat only).
Weight of meat should be equal to that of rice.
2.They pray to God before making biryani, as they consider it as food for the God.
(I always appreciate the dedication and love).
3.They consider inviting all the people they know for the feast.
(oh yeah , how can we feast a tasty food without any social consciousness).
4. They start cooking as early as 2 AM to serve for a feast in the lunch. The secret is the long hours of dham in low heat. (That 10 hrs of cooking makes it yummy!).
5. Don't use chilli powder, coriander powder, curd, poppy seed, Turmeric powder , garam masal powder.
6. Use good milk, saffron , rose essence , ghee.
7. They serve the food in a very large plate (called thambalam) and the close family members eat together in the same plate, whereas guests are served separately.
(Most of the Muslim marriages serve Mutton biryani, but I have used chicken and simplified the procedure enough to make it in small batches at home. If you are using mutton,then don't cook it in a pressure cooker. Instead cook mutton in direct heat, but add a pinch of meat tenderizer powder)
Basmathi rice - 1/2 kg (approximately 3 cups)
Chicken - 1/2 kg
(with bone / leg piece is good. Don't use breast piece / white meat for this recipe)
salt - To taste
Green chilly - 6
Red onion - 100 gms (2)
Tomato - 100 gms (4)
Lemon - 1/2
ghee - 1/4 cup
oil - 2 tbsp
Rose water - 2 tbsp
(or a drop of rose essence)
Milk - 1/4 cup
saffron - a pinch
Cashew - 15
Raisin - 10
cilantro - 10 plants (leaves only)
mint leaf - 4 sticks (leaves only)
green chilly - 4
Ginger - 2 inch
garlic - 10 pearls
To dry roast and powder:
Fennel seed - 1 tbsp
cinnamon - 1 inch
cardamom - 4
cloves - 6
Black pepper - 1 tbsp
a small bark of cinnamon, 1 star aniseed, cashews ,1 tsp Sea weed (kalpaasi), a small chip of Nutmeg (jathikkai), little mace.
First wash and clean the rice. Soak it in water for 10 minutes , drain water and let it remain for 1/2 an hour.
Next, clean the chicken and cut it in to big pieces. Wash and Keep aside.
Rub a tsp of salt + juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 cup curd and leave it for an hour.
(overnight marination inside fridge yields very tasty juicy chicken pieces in biryani).
Chop the onion in lengthwise.
Chop Tomato into small cubes.
Keep the green chillies as full, don't cut it.
Dry roast and powder the items given.
Grind ginger and garlic together to a fine paste.
Grind cilantro, mint, green chilli to a very fine paste.
Heat oil + ghee in a thick bottom vessel.
Toss in a small bark of cinnamon, 1 star aniseed, cashews , 2 rose bud, 1 tsp Sea weed (kalpaasi), a small chip of jathikkai .
Immediately add the chopped onion + little salt and fry till it becomes golden brown.
Add the ginger garlic paste and stir well till the raw smell vanishes.
Now add the finely chopped tomato and cilantro paste (paste 1). Saute till the tomato gets mashed and oil starts showing off.
Now put the chicken pieces along with some more salt, a cup of water , powdered masala and cook it covered.
Cook till all the water gets absorbed by the chicken and the chicken is almost cooked .
Now add the soaked rice without any water and fry in that gravy for some time till the rice gets swollen.
Now add water just enough to immerse the rice and meat completely. Water should stand 1/2 inch above that rice.
(No need to measure the water. Literally it is not possible to measure the amount water if biryani is prepared in large quantities. ).
Before water starts to boil, check for salt by tasting the water:)
Put some freshly chopped mint, cilantro leaves and uncut green chillies.
As soon as the water starts boiling, we can see some holes start appearing on rice. close the vessel with a tight lid and let the rice absorb all the water. Now the rice will be 70 % cooked. Switch off the flame.
Actually while cooking for large parties the chef used to cook the biryani in large stoves burning with fire wood. And at this point they put off fire and make the biryani sit over hot charcoal. Moreover they close the edges of the lid with wet chapathi / roti dough to prevent steam to escape and cook the food in low heat.They put lot of hot charcoal also above the lid. After 5 hours they will get a perfect biryani, with that long grain rice becoming soft, firm and some what short:)
I simplified the above process with a home adopted dhum process.
Home adopted dhum process:
Start heating a thick dosa tawa . (Dont't use your regular dosa tawa. Because you may spoil the dosa tawa while doing so. So I use my chapathi tawa)
Place the biryani vessel over the hot tawa.
Now mix the milk , rose water and saffron and sprinkle it all over the rice. (This generates enough steam to slow cook the rice).
Spread the raisins all over the rice.
Sprinkle some more ghee (2 tbsp) over the rice.
Reduce the heat to minimum. Close the vessel tightly using a flat lid / plate.
Using a wet chapathi dough, cover the lid's edge to seal completely.
Before hand bring 2 liters of water to boil in a vessel. close it with lid.
Place it above the biryani vessel and lid.
Reduce flame to minimum.
Let the setup remain for nearly 2 hours. (2 hours is enough for a smaller batch , less than 2 kg rice).
After that we need not stir the biryani.
After 2 hours we can get a good biryani smell filling the house.
Take it out and enjoy.
TamilNadu Muslim style Biryani is ready !
Mostly in TamilNadu Muslim marriages they Serve it hot with Thakkali thithippu (a kind of Tomato jam) , onion - carrot raitha , any spicy non veg curry , of course a semiya javvarisi payasam and a special dish called dhalsa (a thick dhal curry made with some mutton).
The above said quantity would be enough to serve 4 adults.
Rice calculation - for 1 adult use 3/4 cup of rice.
Jeeraga samba rice (Jeera rice) will give more flavorful Tamilnadu biryani than the basmati.
Hope I tempted you enough by describing a TamilNadu Muslim marriage feast:)
Including this TamilNadu Muslim's Wedding special Biryani to the event The potluck - chicken ' hosted by me.
For mutton briyani:
Just proceed like the same method, but don't add tomato, salt or lemon without cooking the mutton. It will delay the cooking of mutton. So after the ginger garlic paste (without vinegar), add the mutton and cook in direct heat or pressure cook (medium flame in 10 minutes after 1 whistle). Then add tomato, salt and prepare the briyani just like chicken briyani. If you have lesser time to prepare the goat (mutton) briyani, then just pressure cook the meat (though it is not traditional).