If you see, starting from the Khabeesa, I have made it a point to post close to or on the UAE National Day, something that I don’t even do for the Indian Independence Day. 😀 That doesn’t make me any less patriotic, it is just that I belong to a generation of Indians who own an Indian passport, who love every vacation trip planned to India, but since they have been born and/or brought up in some part of the UAE, a part of them is in them. I am sure many of them who are in the same boat of mine can get how I feel. 🙂
This year has been celebrated by the entire country as the “Year of Zayed” as it is his 100th birth anniversary, commemorating the great father of the nation’s visionary outlook for this country. His vision for the country is very well evident from his ideas, that he has left behind for this country. I still remember the day when he passed away and how much the country had come to a stand still due to the immense grief. Even now whenever I get a chance to visit the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi, I always make it a point to go to his qabar, say my salaams and make a small dua for his after life. May Allah bless him with the best hereafter… Aameen…
Also, this year, we are having a super long weekend, which includes a holiday tomorrow as well. Not that we have any plans, but long weekends are always welcome… in all way… though it does put a strain on the regular routines… hehe…
With this year being the National Day #47, all I wanted to make and post was the biriyani from this country. The first time I made the Emirati biryani was for a biriyani potluck in February this year. When I volunteered to participate and when I was racking my head on which biriyani to make, it just hit me that I can try the Emirati style, though I had never made it before and it would be a risk I would be taking from my side. My only experience was making the Majboos and having tasted the biriyani from outside, the flavors were quite similar. The organizing team was also excited about my idea, however HD wasn’t very impressed. He gave me a big lecture as to how risky it is to make something new to a group of people who are literally unknown to me. Even though it did shake me a bit, I still went ahead with what I had committed. From the time of making the masala to the time the foil was removed and the biriyani was dug in by the folks, I was a nervous wreck. It wasn’t my first time making a big pot of biriyani but a first time with making Emirati style. I was elated when I got rave reviews of how different and amazing the biriyani tasted. Since we ourselves hadn’t tasted the biriyani, I bought home the little leftovers that remained, heated it and served it to the folks. HD loved it and the girls said that it felt like majboos with a little more “kachara” in it. Yep, for my girls, the fried onions, nuts and the greens that go into the biriyani, and which makes it a biriyani, is “kachara”. 😕
The star flavor of the biriyani is of course the bezaar spice blend. I can’t stress enough on it! The method of cooking is quite similar to our style, but there is not much sauteing involved and less of onions and tomatoes too! 😀 You can let the chicken and the rice cook side by side and leave it on dum while you go ahead and do the clean-ups. The biriyani goes really well with some daqoos, some pickle and any raita of choice. By the way, I never realized how crazy the UAE locals were for pickles, till I saw with my own eyes, how HD’s friends, who had visited home while we were there, bought kilos of different achaars from a shop in Calicut! Seeing my shell shocked expression, HD whispered in my ears, “You never knew! They eat spoonfuls of achaar!” Wow! 😀 Off to the recipe… Recipe adapted from here…
- 1 kg chicken, chopped into medium pieces
- 3-4 tbsp ghee
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp cashew nuts
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 2 tbsp pine nuts (optional but recommended)
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 4 boiled eggs for serving (optional)
- FOR PASTE:
- 1 small onion
- 1 inch pc ginger
- 6 cloves garlic
- 2 green chillies
- ½ bunch coriander leaves (with stem)
- 1 tbsp bezaar spice mix
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- ½ cup thick yogurt
- FOR RICE:
- 3 cups basmati rice
- 4½ cups water
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon
- 10 black peppercorn
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamom
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- Salt to taste
- Grind the ingredients under "for paste" into a smooth mixture. Pour into a bowl.
- Wash the chicken well and drain. Add into the paste and rub it in well. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes.
- Heat a large saucepan with the ghee. Fry the onions till brown. Drain and set aside.
- Fry the cashew nuts, pine nuts if using and then the raisins, drain into the onions.
- Into the same ghee, add the chicken along with marinade. Cook on low flame for around 10 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, we can start cooking the rice. In a large saucepan, boil the water along with the ghee and all the spices. Drain the rice and add into the water.
- Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce the flame and cook till the rice absorbs all the water. The rice will still have a small bite.
- Spread the rice on top of the chicken that is cooking. Sprinkle the fried onions and dry fruits.
- Seal the lid well and tightly. Keep on high flame for five minutes and then lower to the minimal. Leave undisturbed for 25 minutes. Switch off and leave it as is till the time of serving.
- Serve hot with raita and achaar.