For the last three years, we have been celebrating Eid-ul-Adha back home. “We” means the kids and me. HD would still be here. I was never keen on Eid celebrations back home because the only one that I could remember when I was a kid was extremely boring. As children, we had some of the most amazing memories about Eid over here. The Eidgahs, the stay over at ammayi’s house, all the eating, talking and giggling, etc. made up our Eid celebrations. As we grew up and moved into adulting, it has changed, but Eid is still Eid and we try to see what best we can do. But the last three Eids back home have been really interesting. With going to the Eidgahs in the school grounds, to walking home the long way with all the aunts in slow motion, chatting and enjoying the green views while walking towards my uncle’s home, where we all bundled up together to cook lunch and then eat, and chat… Last year’s was with a tinge of sadness, but then life moves on with all of us carrying our memories strong…
At least this time won’t be like how Eid-ul-Fitr was, completely at home and with curfew hours. Though it is getting much better, we still not to be as cautious as much as we can to not be a part of making things worse. Alhamdulillah, it is a relief that the virus is on decline here, but knowing that it is not back home and many other places does make you feel very restless about the situation. Let us pray during this Eid, that InShaAllah, the pandemic gets wiped out as soon as possible and life comes back to normalcy to many of them who are struggling in various ways due to the changed situation. I have not come across much people who haven’t suffered in some way or the other due to the pandemic. It is a constant struggle to keep your moral and spirit high when you see too much negativity around. But then, “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear…” (Surah Al Baqarah:286), so what we are individually going through it what has already been destined and what He know we can push through ourselves. Maybe we must also remind ourselves all the time – “Surely, Allah is with those who are As‑Saabiroon (the patient)” (Surah Al-Anfal:46). Alhamdulillah… 🙂
Since Eid is usually about good food, how could I not post a biriyani recipe at this time? Eid-ul-Adha usually signifies the sacrifice of an animal, in commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim (AS)’s willingness and Prophet Ismail(AS)’s acceptance of Allah’s command. This year, the ‘qurbani” is likely not to happen in many places due to the current pandemic. Since chicken is always the easiest bet, it is a better choice to make sure biriyani on any occasion. I chanced upon this recipe while browsing through Monica’s extremely tempting Instagram handle and I couldn’t really resist making it as soon as I could. I checked her blog link and didn’t even refer to any other source, as I would have usually done. Even though the process is a little long and needs a lot of patience, the end result is amazing and you wouldn’t regret any of the time. One plus point is that it doesn’t need your constant attention, so you can leave the masala cooking on low flame, while you go ahead with your other tasks, or maybe just resting in your hall with the AC on – hehe!
If you are wondering what Kayees is, it is the short form of a very famous restaurant in Mattanchery, Kochi. I have visited Kochi only a few times but have never had biriyani from this place. The hotel is almost 70 years old and is told to have its own patrons, who swear by its biriyani. The biriyani is lovingly called as “Kayikkante Biriyani”, named after the proprieter of the biriyani, VK Kayee. “Ikka” is what is called in the Muslim community for someone who is elderly or loved. The biriyani is said to have been eaten and endorsed by many celebrities and the outlet is proof of it. I was reading a few reviews, like this one, and most of it were a lot of praises, except this review that was a little critical. But having eaten from some good restaurants at Kozhikode, I have always felt that the experience received does differ from time to time. Even good cooks have their bad days, isn’t it? 🙂 I actually heard about this biriyani in a Malayalam movie song about Kochi – not a great song, just a time pass. 😉
OK, so coming back to the biriyani, one thing I loved about this recipe is that the masala is ground. It does mean that it takes time to get done, since you saute all the ingredients raw till it gets done, and this process can take upto an hour. But please be patient – nobody wants to have a raw tasting base! Once the masala gets cooked, the rest of the time taken is for the chicken to get done, the rice to get cooked and the final dum. The ingredients list may look absolutely long, but the ingredients are all what is usually used in a regular biriyani. I also read that mutton is mostly prefered in this biriyani but I have used chicken here. In case of using mutton, please do cook partially in a pressure cooker before adding it into the cooked masala to get it done further. It will help shorten up some of the cooking time. I have used sella basmati rice for the first time in this recipe and I am a little chuffed by it. The grains were big and heavy and I don’t know if I liked it. Hehe… You can cook regular basmati rice without any soaking, but if using sella like I did, then do soak it as much as possible so that you don’t have to leave the rice in boiling water for a really long time to get it done.
This biriyani is usually served with a dates pickle, cucumber raita and sallas. Top this up with some semiya payasam or pineapple sago payasam, and you can surely have a nice sleep after this deliciously filling meal. If you are in a mood to make some dessert, then I would suggest this trifle pudding, which just got an update and is a perfect cold pudding for this hot season – make ahead, has a lot of chew in it and awesomely light after a heavy meal like biriyani! Off to the recipe…
- 1 kg chicken, cut into medium pieces, washed and drained
- 3 cups basmati rice, soaked for 20 minutes and drained (I used Sella)
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamom
- 1 bay leaf
- Water and salt for draining method
- FOR BIRIYANI MASALA POWDER:
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 3 cardamom
- 10-15 black peppercorn
- 4 cloves
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- FOR MASALA:
- 1½ garlic (around 15-20 cloves)
- 1 inch pc ginger
- 4-6 green chillies (increase for my spice)
- 3 medium sized onions
- 10-15 shallots
- 2 large tomatoes
- ½ cup packed chopped coriander leaves
- ½ cup packed mint leaves
- 2 tbsp ghee
- ½ cup yogurt
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp pineapple essence (refer notes)
- FOR GARNISH:
- 2-4 tbsp ghee
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 10-15 cashew nuts
- 1 tbsp raisins
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves
- 2 tbsp mint leaves
- ½ cup coconut
- 1 tsp pineapple essence
- Powder the ingredients under "biriyani masala" and set aside.
- Heat the saucepan in which you have going to cook the masala. Keep aside.
- Grind the garlic, ginger and green chillies into a paste. Add into pan.
- Similarly, grind the onion, shallots and tomato into paste. Grind separately to make sure they are done well. Add into the pan.
- Mix in half the coriander and mint, the yogurt, turmeric, ghee and salt. Keep on the flame.
- Cook for at least an hour on low flame, stirring occasionally, till the masala gets all done and smells cooked. Since all ingredients are added raw, this slow cooking is essential to get the final taste. If the masala seems to be too dry, add a little ghee in between.
- Once the masala is cooked, add the chicken, the biriyani masala powder and around ¼ cup of water. Cook, tossing in between, till the chicken is almost done.
- Add the remaining coriander and mint leaves, and the pineapple essence. Adjust seasoning and switch off.
- When the chicken is added, you can get the rice cooking. Boil enough water with salt and the whole spices. Add the drained rice and cook till almost done. There should still be a bite in between. Drain and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp ghee for the dum ingredients and fry the onions till browned. Fry the cashew nuts and raisins, and set aside.
- Grind the coconut with ¼ cup water. Strain the coconut milk and set aside.
- For dum, heat a tawa and keep the pan on top. Add the chicken masala, top with the rice. Sprinkle the fried onions, nuts and raisins, coriander leaves, mint leaves, coconut milk, pineapple essence and the ghee (the ghee used to fry plus the remaining ghee).
- Close the lid tight and cook on dum for around 15-20 minutes.
- Open, mix well and serve hot with sallas, cucumber raita and pickle.
If using mutton instead of chicken, cook till ¾th done in a pressure cooker, with some salt and pepper. Add it back to the cooked masala along with the stock and cook till done.
…تَقَبَّلَ اللّهُ مِنَّ وَ مِنْكُمْ