Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Kolkata Chicken Biryani - Neha Murad's Mom's

Kolkata Biryani, Chicken Biryani, Kolkata Chicken Biryani

Kolkata Style Chicken Biryani | Calcutta Biryani

Kolkata Biryani is known for its distinct subtle taste where fragrant rice is mixed with big pieces of meat, potatoes and Eggs. Said to have been brought over by Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh who had been deported to Kolkata, the Kolkata biryani is distinct from other regional biryanis with its aromatic rice and potato.

I am not a Biryani expert.

I mean, I am an expert at eating it but not at cooking it.

Believe me, I have tried. Maybe not enough times.

But how many times can you try cooking a ghee laden Biryani until it is just perfect?
Who eats it? Even if its not perfect,it tastes good after all! And it has all good things.
So do you give your experimental Biryani to unsuspecting neighbors? But people are very health conscious these days. They might not like you giving them ghee laden not-so-perfect Biryani every week.
Then do you eat it yourself? But that means to shed off those excessive calories from the not-so-perfect Biryani you have to go running! Too much work.

So with all these doubts clouding my head, I had stopped experimenting with Biryanis.
Maybe this is a sign.Maybe God is telling me to only eat Biryanis cooked by others.

Kolkata Style Biryani, Chicken Biryani

And then sometime in October, I was chatting with a blog reader Neha Murad over some kaanchakolar kofta that she had made.

Chatting as in FB messenger. Not real life. And I didn't even know her until that fateful day in October.

Now comes the very special thing that keeps me blogging on food and sharing my stories.

Just out of the blog, Neha said "If you are ever in the Bay Area and want to try some Kolkata style Biryani feel free to ping me. I am more adept at that than Kaanchakolar Kofta". Just like that. A warm invite to her home to share a plate of Biryani.

And then she shared her Mother's Biryani recipe. Beautifully hand-written in her recipe diary. I was overwhelmed by this generous gesture and held the recipe close to my heart.

However, I was worried about trying it out as I did not have enough Biriyani faith in myself.

Biryani Trial # 1

Last week, 4 months after Neha had shared her recipe, I decided to try her recipe. It was snowing, all outdoor activities were cancelled, so why not I thought.

I carefully followed the recipe converting the grams to pounds and cups. I made the fragrant Biryani masala. And it was a very fragrant one. I boiled the potatoes just like Neha's mom said. And then since I did not have enough of the long grain Basmati rice, I halved the recipe.

Only, I forgot to halve the 1 Cup Spiced Saffron Milk! #ThatWasFirstBug

Oblivious of this, I layered the spices, fried onion, potatoes, chicken, rice and then added the Cup of Milk. Closed the lid and left it to cook slowly by Dum at lpw heat.

After the time said in the recipe, my kitchen started to distinctly smell like Sabeer's. Ok not quite. But if you stood still, closed your eyes, and sniffed hard, I am sure you could faintly smell it.

So then I switched off the gas and went upstairs to take a shower.

Then the very expert husband-man, who had made the fancy-shmancy bouquet gurney to cook rice, opened the pot of Biryani and declared that the rice still had a lot of moisture in it, This, he said , was because I had kept the heat low. (Actually it was because of #FirstBug)

So then, he increased the gas to medium high, shut the lid tight on the pot of biriyani and put it back on heat. #TooManyCooksSpoilTheBroth

There the rice was cooked again for further 25-30 minutes #ThatWasSecondBug

By the time we sat down for dinner, the rice was cooked way more than it ever wanted to. The Biriyani tasted delicious because it did have all the right things. But it wasn't a Biriyani.

I am so embarrassed and upset that I messed up Neha's Mom's recipe. Sorry Aunty. But I promise, I will try it again soon and the next time I will be more careful.

We all mess up recipes. Some of us more than others. But as long as we keep trying #ApnaTimeBhiAayega!!

Biryani Trial #2

I tried the Biryani recipe for the second time this week. This time it was better than the last but not a complete success yet. The flavors and taste was excellent.  Well, I didn't have Meetha Ittar and had to make do with Kewra and Rose water. I also did not use any saffron color, just strands of saffron. And then I finished off the Biryani in oven instead of dum.

The Potatoes in this Biryani recipe is simply to die for and the subtle flavor hits all the right notes of a Kolkata Biryani.

What was lacking was the rice grains in my rendition of the dish were not "jhorjhore" or distinctly separate yet. They were far better than last time but still not separate grains of rice that I want.

What do you think I should have done to make the rice grains more perfect?

While I am still striving to get this better and putting on 25lbs in the process 😜, I have shared @NehaMurad's Mom's recipe with you all now, as I thought it is only fair that you get a chance at this beautiful recipe. Thank you again @Dorra Abdullah and @Neha Murad 💕 Eternally grateful for your generosity. 

Kolkata Chicken Biryani

Marinate Chicken

Chicken -- 2.2 lb (~ 1kg)

In a large wide mouthed bowl add
Yogurt -- 3/4th Cup
Ginger Pate -- 4 tbsp
Garlic Paste -- 3 tbsp
Chili Powder -- 4 tsp
Salt to taste
Marinate the chicken in the above for 1 hr+

Biryani Masala

Cardamom -- 10
Clove -- 10
Coriander seeds -- 1/2 tsp
Javitri (Mace) - 5 petals
Jaiphal (Nutmeg) -- 1/4
Star Anise -- 2 petals
Sha Jeera -- 1/2 tsp
Sha Morich or White Pepper Powder -- 1 tsp

Grind to a fine powder

Fry Onion

Heat Oil

Fry 1 large onion chopped into thin half moon slices

Remove fried onion and keep aside

Cook Chicken

In the same oil add
1 Tej Patta
1 slender stick of cinnamon

Add the chicken pieces, shaking off any excess liquid

Saute the chicken pieces until they lose the raw coloring

Add to the pan rest of the marinade.

Add 1 tsp of Biryani Masala and salt to taste

Mix well, cover and cook until chicken is almost done. Do not add any water

Now, remove the cover, raise the heat and reduce the gravy.

Sprinkle a little Kewra water for its beautiful fragrance

Once the chicken cools down remove the oil floating on top and keep it aside.

I had approx. 3/4th Cup of the thick gravy Masala and about 1/3 Cup of oil left over which I used during layering

Cook Potatoes

3 medium sized potatoes peeled

In a saucepan heat 3 tbsp oil + ghee

Add 1/2 tsp grated Ginger

Add the potatoes and toss them around.

Now add a pinch of saffron to 1/4th cup of warm milk

Add this to the potatoes

Add a little water, salt to taste, and here's the clincher 1 tbsp of Kewra Water.

Cover and let potatoes cook

Cook Rice

Wash 4 Cups (~ 900 gms) of long grained Basmati rice and soak in water for 30 minutes

Bring a big pot of water to boil. To flavor the water you can do either of the following
1. Bouquet Gurney -- In a large pan, bring surplus water to boil. Take a piece of soft cotton cloth. Put 2 cloves, 2 cardamoms, 1″ cinnamon stick, 2 bay leaves,, 4 black pepper corns in and make a bundle of this.Now drop this in the water and it is going to release flavor as much as it can.

2. Add whole spices like 1 slender stick of cinnamon, 2 big Black Cardamom, 2 Bay leaves. When the water is boiling, fish out the whole spices with a ladle.

Add washed and strained rice to the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes less than recommended time. So I cooked the rice for 8 minutes instead of the 10 minutes recommended by the brand.

Drain the rice in a colander and shake off the water.

Add some ghee to the rice and gently toss so that the grains are coated

Make the Saffron flavored Milk

1/2 Cup Warm Milk
a pinch of crushed Saffron strands
1 tbsp of Kewra
1 tbsp of Meetha Ittar
1 tbsp Biryani Powder
Mix well

Now we will get ready for the layering

Take a medium sized tray

To the
Thick Chicken masala (left over from the gravy)
add 1 tsp of Biryani masala
Mix well and spread it as the first layer, at the bottom of the tray

Follow with 2 potatoes

Then Chicken pieces (I used 1/2 of chicken pieces in this layer and save 1/2 for second layer)

Then 1/2 of the fried onion

Then 1/2 of the Cooked Rice

Drizzle half of the Oil (that was strained from the gravy)

Drizzle half of the Saffron Milk 

Drizzle 1 tsp of Kewra  & 1 tsp of Meetha Ittar

Sprinkle some Biryani Masala

Now add another layer in a similar

Drizzle some more ghee and kewra on top

Cover tightly with an aluminum foil

Heat Oven to 300F

Cook for 30-45 mins

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  1. I can't wait to try this out.
    Thank you and Neha and Aunty.

  2. Lovely write up! Specially the hastag bugs ! I follow Mona's hyderabadi pakki biryani from zaiqa dot net and it comes perfect every single time. Trick to perfect rice is soak Royal Chef Basmati rice in water for 30 minutes, drain and set aside. Bring lot of water to rolling boil with salt and garam masala - add rice. Stand by the gas when rice is cooking do not wink, in 5-6 minutes you will have 90% cooked rice. Keep colander ready in the sink, drain the rice. I save the rice water and cook rajma in it; has all garam masala flavors from the rice water and tastes amazing. -- Reh

  3. Love to read your blogs always.... please tell how will the rice get the salt

  4. Really wonderful!can it be done using a pressure cooker?I don't have an oven...


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