Biryani is one of the most preferred dishes in Mauritius and to get the recipe perfect, it took me years of practice. Here’s how to you can nail the recipe every single time.
- 4 – 6 skinned leg pieces of chicken
- 3-4 cups of soaked long-grain basmati rice (I use Daawat)
- 2 sugar-free greek style yogurt
- 1 Shan Sindhi biryani powder
- 2 bunches of fresh coriander leaves
- 1 bunch of fresh mint leaves
- 3-4 medium-sized potatoes
- 1 g of saffron
- 1 cup of hot milk (to soak the saffron)
- 10 g of dried fenugreek leaves
- 5-7 white/yellow onions
- 20 g cumin seeds
- 10 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4-5 bay leaves
- vegetable oil
Peel and slice 5-7 white/yellow onions them consistently and place them in a bowl. Add salt and mix well. Allow the salt to draw the moisture out of the onions and wash them quickly and drain in a colander.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and fry the onions in a medium flame. Frying in a low flame will make the onions caramelize too much and will stick to each other and become more greasy. Frying in a high flame will burn the onions and they will taste bitter.
Tip: Turn the onions every 2 minutes to allow uniform frying and remove them as soon as they turn pale brown in colour. The onions will continue to cook even after removing them from the oil.
Peel and halve the potatoes according to your preferences. Prick them with a fork and rub salt on them. Fry in the same oil that the onions were fried using a medium-low flame.
In a big pot, fill water, add 5 to 7 tablespoons of salt, 20 grams of roasted cumin seeds, some coriander leaves & cleaned roots, some mint leaves, 1 stick of cinnamon, 10 cardamom pods, 4-5 bay leaves, and some oil. Bring to the boil.
In a different large and heavy bottom pot (use one which has a tight cover lid), place the marinated chicken pieces (all pieces should be touching the bottom of the pot preferably), the remaining marinade paste along with the fried potatoes. Try to organise the placement of the potatoes so that you remember where they were placed before serving. This will minimise the risks of breaking them. If you do not have a heavy bottom pot, place a skillet or tawa under it. Sprinkle some fried onions, followed by coriander and mint leaves and a few dollops of ghee.
Once the water boils, add the soaked rice (not the water) and allow it to boil until 80% done.
Tip: Add a cup of milk to this water to allow the rice to become softer.
Once the rice is at 80% doneness, switch off the flame and transfer it on top of the marinated chicken and potatoes using a meshed strainer. Do not let too much water to be on the rice before transferring. Do not compact the rice. Spread them gently so that the steam can get to them from the bottom. On the top layer of rice, sprinkle the saffron milk, the remaining fried onions, the remaining coriander & mint leaves, and some ghee.
Tip: Add the rice in two layers. Bottom layer is the chicken pieces, then a layer of rice, then add some fried onions and garam masala, a bit of ghee and some mint & coriander leaves, then add the final layer of rice.
Cover using aluminum foil (3 to 4 layers) or make a dough ring (using flour and water) around the rim of the pot to make a tight seal, then add the lid. You may also add some weights on top of the lid (use another pot filled with water or any heavy material).
Turn the flame on medium-high for the first 15-20 minutes, then turn it to low for the remaining 40 minutes.
Tip: Once the biryani is cooked, open the lid to prevent the pot from imploding. It happened to me two times already. Lol. Once opened, just cover it back and allow the biryani to rest for 10 minutes before you serve.
Mixing biryani is an art and requires skills. If you are not careful, you will end up breaking the rice grains. Use a large and flat spoon to dig the biryani from the bottom up. Mix the spices from the bottom with the rice from the top. If you have followed the instructions well, the biryani will be perfect and will have no burn bits in the bottom.
Tip: Before serving, take a small iron cup and place on top of the biryani pot. Light up a piece of charcoal and place in the cup using a kitchen tweezer. Place 2-3 cloves and drizzle some ghee on top and quickly cover the lid to trap the smoke inside. Let the smoke permeate the biryani for 10 minutes, then serve with condiments of your choice.