Aromatic Spices & loads of Flavor make this Thalassery Chicken Biryani from India’s Spice Coast, one of the most Spectacular Dishes you’ll ever eat!
My last post was about a typical weeknight meal, easy to prep and on the table in minutes. Today’s recipe though is a diametrically opposite one. A luxurious meal that takes a while to prep and cook, not a meal to be hurried.
It is also a dish that should be enjoyed slowly, savoring the various components and techniques that go into making this spectacular creation, that is a treat for your senses.
This is the famed Thalassery Chicken Biryani from the coastal spice town of Thalassery (formerly known as Tellicherry – as in Tellicherry Peppers!) in God’s Own Country, Kerala. Naturally there are quite a few spices that go into this fragrant biryani, but it is still a very delicately spiced dish.
This biryani is a wonderful amalgamation of the Mughlai cuisine from north India and the Malabar cuisine from south India. The unique spice-mix and loads of fried onions (called ‘bista’ locally) give this biryani its tantalising aroma and signature taste.
The rice generally used in this biryani is also different from the usual Basmati. Instead a short-grained, fragrant rice called Jeerakasala. I have used Basmati though and the biryani is still amazing.
The biryani is prepared by layering spiced chicken and parboiled rice in a heavy bottomed dish and cooking it on a low flame, till everything is cooked through and wonderfully aromatic.
And believe me, this is the kind of aroma that sends your salivary glands into overdrive. You have to tell yourself to quit drooling and find something else to do until it is time to eat.
To me, this Thalassery Chicken Biryani is the ultimate weekend luxury: rich, sinful, wonderfully fragrant. The spices, the sweet fried onions, the rich saffron…all heady and indulgent. And perfect for cool weather when you need those spices and sensational flavors to warm you right up.
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- 2 cups Basmati Rice (or other fragrant rice)
- 2 Green Cardamom
- 1 inch piece Cinnamon
- 3 Cloves
- 4 Black Peppercorns
- 2 Bay Leaves
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups Water
- 2 teaspoons Ghee
- 1 teaspoon of Aniseed
- ½ teaspoon Black Cumin (Shahi Jeera)
- ½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- ½ inch piece Cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon Mace
- 3 Green Cardamom
- 3 Cloves
- ½ teaspoon Nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns (optional, if you want a spicy Biryani)
- 1 kilogram Chicken, cut into large pieces, with bone
- 4 large Red Onions, thinly sliced
- 2 large Tomatoes, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Ginger Garlic Paste
- 2 Green Chillies, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon of the Spice Mix
- 12-15 Mint Leaves
- ¼ cup chopped Cilantro
- Juice of half a Lemon
- ¼ cup Ghee or Cooking Oil
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons Nuts (I used Pine Nuts)
- 2 tablespoons Raisins
- 1 pinch Saffron soaked in 1/ cup Milk
- Clean the chicken pieces and make a few slits on each piece. Refrigerate until needed.
- Wash and soak the rice in water for 20 minutes.
- Cook the rice with the whole spices, ghee and water till the water is absorbed and rice is half cooked. Keep aside to cool.
- Heat the ¼ cup ghee or oil in a heavy bottomed pan and when hot, add the sliced onion in batches till they are golden brown. Set on a plate to cool.
- In the same pan, with the left over ghee or oil, fry the ginger-garlic paste and the chopped green chillies for a couple fo minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and ¼ cup water and let it cook till mushy, about 5 minutes.
- Add the mint leaves, salt, the spice mix and the chicken pieces. Mix well, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
- Add about ¾ of the fried onion into the chicken cooked gravy. Mix well, cover and cook for 5 minutes on low flame.
- Add the lemon juice and the cilantro. Mix well. Keep the flame low.
- Spread the half-cooked rice over the chicken till it forms a uniform layer.
- Drizzle the milk with soaked saffrons over the rice.
- Add the raisins and nuts. Add the remaining fried onions.
- Cover the pan with a tigth-fitting lid. Cook on a very low flame for about 30 minutes.
- Put off the heat and serve with the Biryani hot with yogurt, pickles and other sides.
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