AWADHI MURG BIRYANI – अवधी मुर्ग बिरयानी (Awadhi Chicken Biryani)

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It is kind of sacrilege, for the food blogger in me, for not having shared the chicken biryani recipe in my eight years of blogging. I honestly have no excuse to give in this regard for the lapse, error, omission, failure, oversight…what ever that it may be called. But I am now trying to fix this transgression by sharing my biryani recipe, finally. I won’t go into the gyan of what biryani is, what the word means and where it came from, etc, etc because I believe most of you would probably know that already since biryani is such a popular and loved dish across continents. And every family has it’s own favorite recipe.

However, I will definitely lay before you the basic difference between the Awadhi biryani which is also called Pukki biryani and the Hyderabadi Biryani or the Kutchi Biryani. Pukki means cooked and kutchi means raw. The Awadhi biryani uses marinated and cooked meat or vegetables which are layered with al dente rice and then cooked on dum while the Hyderabadi Biryani uses meat or veggies that are simply marinated in spices, fried onions and other ingredients and then cooked on dum along with the al dente rice. Hence, the name kutchi biryani since the meat / veggies goes in raw and gets cooked on dum along with rice.

The other difference is that the Hyderabadi Biryani is robustly spiced while the Awadhi Biryani is subtly spiced and therefore has delicate flavors. Delicately spiced chicken and grains of rice with mellow floral notes of saffron and hints of mint and cilantro thrown in, makes it beautifully fragrant and so very exquisite. Perfect weekend meal and also great for potluck parties and entertaining 🙂

FOR MARINATION

1 kg Chicken, cut in 8 – 10 pieces

Juice of 1 lime

½ C plus  2 tbsp plain Yogurt (ensure it is not sour)

1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste

1 Bay Leaf, torn in two

1 inch Cinnamon stick

5 Cloves

4 Green Cardamom

10 Black Pepper Corns

1 tsp Garam Masala

1 tbsp Coriander Powder

¼ tsp Cardamom Powder

1 tsp Yellow Chili Powder or Red Chili Powder (adjust to taste)

Take a mixing bowl and put the washed and pat dried chicken pieces in it. Make slits in bigger pieces such as the leg piece or thigh pieces (helps in penetration of flavors deep within the chicken pieces) Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Whisk together rest of the ingredients of the marination and pour the marinade over the chicken. Mix well and cover bowl with cling wrap. Keep the marinated chicken refrigerated overnight or a minimum of three to four hours.

FOR TOPPING

10 – 12 strands (A pinch) Saffron

¼ C Milk (for soaking saffron)

3 – 4 tbsp Desi Ghee

½ C loosely packed Mint leaves

2 tbsp finely chopped Fresh Coriander (cilantro)

Soak the saffron in warm milk, cover and set aside for flavors to steep. I allow at least one and a half hour of soaking.

FOR CURRY

3 – 4 tbsp Cooking Oil (I use smoked Mustard Oil)

½ tsp Shahi Jeera (Caraway Seeds)

1 Bay Leaf

3 Green Cardamoms

3 Cloves

½ inch Cinnamon stick

2 C finely sliced & loosely packed Red Onions

1 tsp Salt

Heat the cooking pot and add oil (add only three tablespoons first and add more only if required). Tip in the spices and stir them around. Once the cumin seeds (jeera) begin to crackle, add the onions.

Cook onions on high heat stirring often in the beginning and continuously later, to prevent them from burning. (should take anywhere between 15 – 20 minutes) Once the onions turn a little over golden brown, add the marinated chicken and cook on high flame for four to five minutes to seer the pieces and seal the flavors. The chicken will begin to release oil around the edges.

Reduce the heat and season with salt. Stir and add one fourth cup water and pressure cook if for one pressure whistle and then switch off teh heat. Allow the pressure to release on its own. However, if you intend to cook it in the pot, add one fourth cup of water, bring the water to a boil and then reduce the heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally till the chicken is completely done. (Feel free to add more water, table spoon by tablespoon, if required till chicken is cooked) If you wish to, remove and discard the aromatics from the chicken curry.

By the time the chicken is done, the gravy needs to be somewhat thick, coating the chicken pieces well. It should not be too dry or wet. The consistency should be such that you can mop the gravy easily with a flatbread.

PREPPING RICE

2 C Biryani Basmati Rice (I prefer ‘Daawat’ brand)

2 Bay Leaves

1 Black Cardamom

½ inch Cinnamon Stick

1 tsp Salt

2 tsp Oil

Wash the rice in plenty of water at least five to six times or till the water runs clear. Wash the rice gently so as not to break the grains.

Soak it in plenty of water for half an hour (or as per the instructions of the brand you are using)

Fill a large pot with plenty of water (approximately one and half to two litres)

Heat the water on high heat and add the aromatics along with the salt and oil. Bring the water to boil.

Drain and discard the water from the soaked rice and carefully add the rice to the boiling water. Stir the rice gently and then allow it to cook on high heat. Cook the rice till it is al dente (80% cooked, i.e. the grains should hold some resistance when you press them between your finger and thumb)

Strain the rice through a large sieve and drain and discard excess water. Spread the rice on a large plate to prevent it from cooking further in its own heat. (By spreading it in a layer the rice will release its heat quicker and the grains will stay well when cooked later on dum along with chicken) Remove and discard the aromatics from the rice

FOR LAYERING & TOPPING

In a cooking pot (with a lid that fits well), add half of the cooked chicken and then add half the rice. Drizzle the rice with half the quantity of melted ghee, half the quantity of mint leaves and also half the saffron milk.

Top this layer with the rest of the chicken and rice and repeat the above procedure. Cover the pot with lid and seal it with either some dough or foil. (I have a large, deep and broad pan so I don’t need to make two layers of biryani. All I do is, add all of the chicken to the pan and top it with all of the rice followed by rest of the paraphernalia) 

Cook on very low heat for 15 – 20 minutes (the time will depend on the quality of rice and how much pre-cooked the rice is). Once done, remove the pot from heat and do not open the lid. Keep the pot covered for 10 – 15  minutes.

Serve hot with ghee and a side of a simple cucumber & onion salad sprinkled with some salt and squeeze of a lime. People do serve it with raita however, I am of the opinion that this biryani does not require raita or yogurt since the flavors of the biryani are beautifully subtle and so good on their own. Serving it with yogurt, kills those flavors. I gently stir the biryani before serving it. 

Note – You can alter the amount of spices added to this chicken but we prefer this ratio of ingredients.

Note – Yellow chilli powder is preferred to red chili powder in this biryani.

Note – Feel free to use any pieces of chicken you prefer to use for biryani but an authentic biryani uses the whole chicken, on bones, cut in to pieces. Always use chicken on bone for making Indian curries and biryanis coz they add lots of flavor to the curry.

Note – I strongly advise using a really good quality saffron for the best tasting biryani. You will need just a few strands to bring out those lovely warm floral notes.

Note – There are many varieties of basmati rice. Use the one that is specific for making biryani for best results.

Note – Feel free to garnish the biryani some toasted nuts and raisin before serving. Would also like to mention here, that for the Awadhi biryani, I do not add birista. Feel free to use it if you like it.

Serves 4 – 5

Thanks for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

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8 Comments

  1. Taruna, love this biryani! I’m happy to learn exactly what an Awadhi biryani is and your flavors are delicious. I can see now how the rice gets flavored throughout with the layering. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  2. Taruna, this dish is gorgeous! I love biryani, and just the list of spices included is enough to make my mouth water. This dish is amazing! I appreciate this recipe! Pinning!

  3. Taruna, this dish is gorgeous! I love biryani, and just the list of spices included is enough to make my mouth water. This dish is amazing! I appreciate this recipe!

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