A senior Masterchef at ITC DumPukht recently shared his top secrets for the best-ever chicken biryani with me, and I want to share them with you. ITC DumPukht is a luxury restaurant brand in India, known for its incomparable DumPukht Biryani. The complete recipe of this biryani is a well-kept family secret of the famed Qureshi Gharana of Royal Chefs. However, a member of this Royal Chefs’ family, Mohammed Shareef, who heads the DumPukht kitchen at ITC Maratha was generous enough to share some invaluable secrets with me to make the most mouthwatering chicken biryani every single time. Here is a recipe video of biryani and listed down are the tips that were shared with me off camera!
1. Soaking the rice for Biryani
Soaking rice for 1½ to 2 hours is crucial. It will help the rice cook better and moisture makes the rice grain longer and brighter once cooked. Soaking rice also increases the strength of the grain and prevents it from breaking and removes impurities. Soaked rice when cooked will give you bright white rice, non-sticky where each grain blooms to separate from the other.
Use the best possible, long grain Basmati rice that you can get your hands on. Good basmati will have its own distinct fragrance even when it is raw.
2. Flavouring the rice for Dum Biryani
We must add spices such as bayleaf, peppercorns and cardamom to the cooking water when the rice is being boiled. This will help flavor the grains of rice as the aroma gets absorbed into it.
We also add excess to salt to the cooking water. Salty cooking water helps season the all of the rice before it is mixed with the masala. This is done because we want the rice to be flavourful on its own and not bland rice simply mixed in the masala.
3. How to cook biryani rice right?
The water in which the rice is soaked should be drained out completely before cooking. Quantity of cooking water should be at least three times the quantity of the rice. The pot used for cooking rice must be large enough to hold twice the quantity of water added. This is done to give the rice enough room to cook. This way the rice does not break and grains have enough room to increase in size.
The rice is should be cooked al-dente, that is firm to bite. When you break the rice grain there should be a tiny white dot in the centre, that’s when it is done.
4.Cooking the meat correctly for Best Ever Chicken Dum Biryani
In this pakki biryani the meat is not marinated beforehand. When directly cooking the raw meat use thighs with bone, in case of chicken. Heat ghee in a pan, on high heat add the chicken thighs and cook them on high heat for a minute. Then add salt, lower the heat and cover the pan with a fitted lid. This way the meat quickly absorbs the salt, gets seasoned and absorbs the flavor to the bone. The meat will not remain bland inside with this method. The addition of salt also speeds up the cooking process of the meat.
5. Cooking vessel for Chicken Dum Biryani
It is important to use a vessel that is deep and also wide enough. Traditionally biryani is prepared in a deep, wide-mouth copper bottom vessel called the lagan. However, if you don’t have a copper lagan, then feel free to use any metal heavy bottom vessel with a wide mouth. The wide mouth ensures even cooking of the rice and prevents the grain from breaking, speeds up the cooking and also eases mixing, if any.
A vessel large enough to accommodate twice the quantity of the cooked biryani must be used to give the rice enough room to bloom and absorb the aroma cloud of the spices during dum cooking.
6. How to use the spices correctly in Biryani
The proportion and the time at which each of the spices is added in the biryani makes a marked difference in its flavor. Whole spices such as bay leaf and peppercorn are added when boiling rice. These spices are later strained and discarded.
A combination of roasted and powdered spices as well as whole spices are also added while cooking the meet in the curry. While the whole spices are later discarded, the flavor of the powdered spices continues to intensify during the entire cooking process. This balances the flavours and prevents the stronger flavours from dominating their taste in the biryani.
7. Keeping the Mystery
Many of the whole spices used in making biryani are added in potli form or strained and later discarded. This keeps the mystery of the flavor combination well concealed. What we taste is the rounded off, well-balanced flavor of the biryani. This keeps the mystery of what spices were used and what flavours were combined a mystery, adding the Oomph! To you biryani.
8. Testing when the Dum Biryani is done
Before giving dum, to test when the cooking process if finished and the biryani is done there’s a simple test. Just dip a knife right through the middle of the vessel to touch the bottom. If the knife comes out clean, the curry is entirely absorbed by the rice and biryani cooking process is complete.
9. Giving Dum to the Best Ever Chicken Dum Biryani Recipe
Dum is a slow cooking process on low heat, when the dish cooks slowly in its own steam (dum) and locks the scents of the spices in the cooking pot. This process also helps the rice absorb the aromas of the dish in its character. It rounds off the flavor.
A metal bowl or foil holds a piece of smoking hot coal in the center of the rice, a few spices are added and ghee is poured over the hot piece of coal. Then the cooking pot is quickly sealed with aluminium foil and roti dough to allow the smoky flavor to get absorbed in the biryani. The biryani is sealed completely to prevent the smoke from escaping. Few holes are punctured in to avoid a steam burst. The biryani pot is kept in the oven on low heat setting for 30 to 40 minutes. The pot is only unsealed when beginning to serve.
Foodmantra believes in bringing you creative videos, recipes and tips using natural foods. Our recipes are well researched. We bring you restaurant style food, cooking tips and tricks from celebrity chefs, so you can make the best food in your kitchen. If you have any comments or feedback about this article, or if you have any more of your own biryani tips to add, then please share them with me in the comments section below.
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