Monday, August 27, 2012

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani


August has been a very good month, holiday wise. With four holidays and a couple of long weekends, a lot of non vegetarian cooking and eating happened in my house (my parents did the cooking on my request, and I did most of the eating). The Eid weekend had me dreaming of the wonderful Hyderabadi Dum Biryani and these dreams became more vivid and colourful after reading my friend, Crl's descriptions of the same on her blog. Ofcourse, I had to eat it, but being too lazy to do any laborious cooking myself, I cajoled my dad into making it for me. And I must confess, the biryani master was only too pleased to oblige.

Hyderabadi biryani, a rice and meat dish created in the royal kitchens of the Hyderabad Nizam, is a result of the fusion of Andhra and Mughlai cuisines. The secret to the wonderful flavours that distinguishes this biryani from others should be the 'dum' method of cooking wherein the rice and meat are layered in a heavy bottomed pot or handi sealed securely with dough and slowly cooked over hot coals. The hot steam trapped within the handi cooks the meat to perfection in its own juices, retaining all the rich flavours and aroma of the dish.

Hyderabadi biryani can be Kachchi gosht ki biryani where the meat is marinated overnight and then layered with rice and cooked together in a dum. Whereas for a Pakki biryani, the meat is marinated and cooked separately, then layered with partially cooked rice and baked in a dough sealed dum. Usually, the meat used is lamb, but you can also use chicken. A dum over hot coals may not be feasible within a tiny Bangalore kitchen, so I have to be satisfied with cooking the biryani in a sealed aluminum pot over a low flame on my stove.

Hyderabadi Dum Biryani (Kachchi version using chicken)

1) Marinate the chicken:

1¼ kg medium sized chicken pieces, cleaned
3-4 onions, chopped,
1" piece ginger, crushed
10 garlic cloves
8 green chilies
Spices: 1 tsp pepper corns + 5 cardamom pods + 1 star anise + 2 pinches jathipathri (mace) + 1 pinch grated nutmeg + 1 tbsp fennel seeds + 8-10 cloves + ½ tsp shajeera (black cumin seeds)
Masala powder: 2 tsp chili powder + 2 tsp coriander powder + ¼ tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp cooking oil + 1 tbsp ghee
½ cup coriander leaves + ½ cup mint leaves
¾ cup curd
To taste, salt

Coarsely grind onions, ginger garlic and green chilies and keep aside. Powder the spices and masala powders finely.

Heat oil and ghee in a pan. Fry the coarsely ground onion paste over medium heat till browned. Reduce heat to minimum and add ground spice and masala powders. Sauté for a minute to remove the raw taste of the powders. Mix in coriander and mint leaves and take the pan off heat. Let it cool completely. Add curd, salt and chicken pieces and mix well to ensure that the chicken pieces are coated well with the marinade. Cover and set aside for atleast two hours or overnight in a refrigerator.

2) Prepare the Garnish:

3 onions, thinly sliced
½ cup cashewnuts
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup ghee/oil for frying
1/8 cup milk
6-8 strands of saffron

Warm milk and add saffron strands. Set aside

Heat ghee in a large pan and fry the raisins till they are plump. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Next, fry the cashewnuts till golden and keep aside. In the same ghee, add sliced onions and fry till brown. Remove with slotted spoon and keep aside.

3) Prepare The Dum:

Select a vessel large enough to hold the biryani once it is done. 

Make thick dough by mixing together wheat flour and water. Roll out the dough and press it onto the outer edge on the lid so that when the lid is placed on the vessel, it will seal the vessel properly. Lay a moist cloth over the lid to prevent the dough from drying out.

Transfer the marinated chicken to this vessel.

4) The Rice:
4½ cups long grained basmati rice
3 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tsp pepper corns + 5 cardamom pods + 1 star anise + 2 pinches jathipathri (mace) + 1 pinch grated nutmeg + 1 tbsp fennel seeds + 8-10 cloves + ½ tsp shajeera (black cumin seeds)
3 tbsp coriander leaves + 3 tbsp mint leaves
12 cups boiling water

Soak the rice in some water at room temperature for 15 minutes. Drain out the water.

Heat oil in a large pot. Add the spices in the order they are listed and let them crack. Lower heat to minimum and add coriander and mint leaves. Add rice and sauté for 3-4 minutes taking care not to break the rice grains.

Pour in boiling water, bring it back to boil and cook uncovered for about 5 minutes till the rice is about 1/3rd cooked. Remove from heat and drain out hot water quickly.

5) The Biryani:

Once you have poured in boiling water to the rice, add ½ cup of water to the marinated chicken and bring it to boil quickly. Let it cook on low heat till you have drained out the boiling water from the rice.

Now spoon in half the cooked rice in a layer over the chicken. Quickly sprinkle over 1/3rd of the fried onions, cashewnuts, raisins, a tablespoon of ghee and half the saffron milk. Spoon in the remaining rice, some more ghee and rest of the garnishes, saving some for serving. Press the lid over the vessel so that it is sealed. You can also use some metal paper clips to ensure that the vessel is truly sealed. Stick a toothpick into the dough. Place the vessel over a tawa and let it cook over lowest heat for 25 - 30 minutes. Remove the toothpick, and if there is no steam escaping, the biryani should be done. Turn off heat and let it rest for another 30 minutes. Then, break the seal and test the rice for doneness.

To serve, slice through the biryani with a large spoon. (Do not mix the rice and chicken). Garnish with saved fried onions, nuts and raisins and serve with raita, chutneys, pickles and papad.



  1. Mmmmm.. im SURE this biriyani was delicious :) esp since uncle made it.

  2. Love homemade biryani much more than the restaurant ones and your dad's version sounds delicious!

  3. The biriyani looks fabulous and you've outlined the recipe so well, makes it really easy to follow! Lovely pics!

  4. Slurrp..biryani my fave fave...and it's been more than three months since I prepared one.

    The dum method am scared if the rice may get burnt but I'll try yours.

  5. I have been wanting to hop over as soon as I took a glance at this in flickr:) Biryani is an all time fav. food and something which i have never been able to resist. Your presentation makes me want to stuff myself up with this. just marvelous!

  6. hi there.. i tried this dum biriyani today and everyone liked it at home.. i have also published the post in my blog..
    here's the link :

    check it in your free time :) thanks again for this delicious recipe..


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