Talk of holidays and festive food. Nothing tops the charts as much as the thing called Biriyani. Although it might have originated somewhere in the Western Himalayan countries, but with all the comings and goings of emperors and kings and dynasties, countries changing their boundaries all the time...I guess it is fair enough to say that the roots of this dish are lost in the sub surface of the oldest history books of the region comprising all of south west and southeastern Asia. That closes all debates and lets us get on with the dish..which seriously is the most interesting thing about it :)
I am sure most of us are familiar with some variant of it. Basically rice, slow cooked in a delicate juice of marinated meat over lowest of low flames. But this one sentence does nothing but injustice to this incredible dish that has not only witnessed so much of history but have also adapted to so many changing palates over space and time...and still retains its aura. I mean Aurangzeb and I are equally enamoured by it. And for sure we have different taste buds :)
I am not going to write how one can make it. I can't. But I can tell you all, a few exceedingly fun stories attached to it that I have either borne witness to or had the good fortune of hearing from very close sources. The basic idea is always the same. Slow cook rice in a deliciously marinated spicy meat juice. So here goes....itsy bitsy madness about Biriyani
1. One thing anybody wants to do with Biriyani is make it as perfect as possible. And it never is. And in the end all of them tastes as good as the perfect one. When you invest 20 hours in something it WILL taste great! My sister has a group of pretty crazy friends, who decided to add some spice to exam time gruel while living in the dorm. So they decided to make Biriyani. What started off as a three people endeavor, ended up being a 25 people party. So a big enough pot was gathered. But a big enough fire could not be gathered. So what ended up happening was these guys heated different parts of the huge pot at a time...for as long as 24 hours. The end result was---
Awesome. That was slow cooked for 24 hours!
2. This one I bore witness to. A friend of mine wanted to try it out. Perfection being the buzz word. So he skipped all store bought spice mixture. Bought a coffee grinder. And all of the 30 spices (whole spices) and ground them in the coffee grinder and set of to make this Biriyani. Took him a good 15 hours in the oven and the stove.
The end result..still awesome!
3. This one I actually tried. Oh no. This was disaster. A fast- low key- healthy -experimental cook trying a Biriyani. What can you expect? Stay tuned. I decided to use store bought spice mixture. I also invited a few people over. I have courage, brother. So first I don't have a big enough pot to hold the whole thing. So I used an oven tray on the stove to do the meat, and then made the rice in the oven...basically running back and forth between the stove and oven for 4 hours. The fire alarm sounded twice. I ran out of patience. And blackened all my pots. Finally after 4 hours I was ready with the Biriyani and ready to get super drunk!..how do you think it went?
Awesome :)..I even got asked for the recipe. I wowed never to make it again
4. Finally...Someone does it in 30 minutes. R. He is the best Biriyani cook. Can get you results that others die for. He marinades the chicken/ meat in the spice mixture, yoghurt and ginger garlic paste. Fries some garlic, shallots and potatoes, add the marinaded chicken and cooks for 15 minutes. Meanwhile he boils rice somewhere else. Once done he adds a part of it to the chicken and the rest after the chicken has cooled a bit.
here is what it looks like
Moral of the story--- Its no fail with Biriyani. Time is just something like collateral damage. So save yourself the hassle and go to a restaurant ...it will be as good as any :)