A pot of spicy chicken, baked (dum) with aromatic basmati rice, adorned with fried cashews and raisins with a sprinkle of saffron and a splash of rose water – heavenly biryani..!
Thalassery, also known as Tellicherry, is a city on the Malabar Coast of Kerala, in South India. this small city is reknown for its vast heritage. It is believed that this city has been the emergent place of numerous cuisines and delicacies like biryani,kalumaka nirachathu, Kakkarotti , puzhungappathil, kozhi nirachathu and kalumaka porichathu. Thalassery is at times referred to as the city of cricket, cakes and circuses. It is believed that this is the birthplace of Indian Circus. Thalassery also hosts the Ranji trophy on a regular basis. Colonel Arthur Wellesley is believed to have brought the game to this Malabar region town in the late 1790s. The first bakery ever opened in Kerala was the Mambally Bakery in Thalassery in 1880. It is an establishment on its own with branches all over Kerala under various names.
A biryani is one of the most popular dishes in the Malabar community.In Thalassery, this dish is a must have for weddings and functions. There are numerous recipes for a decent biryani, some with coconut, some with poppy seeds, but I think this is one of the tastiest biryanis I have had. and for the home cook, one of the easiest ones to prepare too. So go ahead and try it out.
THALASSERY CHICKEN DUM BIRYANI
For the Chicken Masala
- Chicken cut into pieces – 1 Kg
- Onions- 6 sliced
- Green Chilies – 15 to 20 depending on spice level
- Ginger – 1 big piece
- Garlic- 2 Tbsp crushed
- Tomato – 2 big chopped
- Curd -1/2 cup beaten
- Coriander leaves- 1/2 cup chopped
- Garam Masala Powder – 1 Tbsp
- Lemon juice – juice of 1 lemon
- Ghee + Oil mixed – 1/3 cup
For Ghee Rice
- Basmati Rice – 4 cups
- Water – 7 cups
- Lemon juice – from 1 lemon
- Cinnamon – 1 inch
- Cardamom – 4
- Cloves - 4
- Ghee -1/4 cup
- Oil – 1/4 cup
- Cashew nuts - 1/2 cup
- Raisins – 1/2 cup
- Onion – 2 very thinly sliced
- Rose essence – 1 tsp mixed in 1 Tbsp water
- Yellow/Orange color – 1/2 tsp mixed in 1 Tbsp milk (optional)
- Garam masala powder – 1 Tbsp
- Coriander leaves – handful chopped
- Wheat flour / All purpose flour – 2 cups
- Water – required
To make the chicken masala
- Clean the chicken pieces well. Keep aside.
- Take a large pan, large enough to contain the chicken and the rice, and one which is oven safe so that we can put dum.
- In the pan, add the ghee + oil mix and let it heat up. Normally ghee is used for biryani making. But i mix ghee with sunflower oil so that I get the taste of ghee with less cholesterol content in my biryani.
- Add the sliced onions to the oil and keep frying till it becomes translucent.
- Run the green chilies, ginger and garlic through a chopper so that they get chopped very finely. Add this mix to the onions and fry till the raw smell is gone.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and fry till the masala is cooked through and mushy.
- Add the chicken pieces and the required amount of salt to this and mix well. Cook covered for 15 minutes on a medium low flame till cooked through. The chicken should not overcook.
- Add the beaten curd and cook till the gravy is thick and coats the chicken.
- Add the garam masala powder and the coriander leaves and mix well.
- Take the pan off the flame and keep aside.
To make the ghee rice
- Wash the rice till the water runs clear. Drain the rice using a colander, till all the water is gone.
- Keep a pan on the stove and add the ghee and oil to it.
- Add the whole spices – cinnamon, cardamom and cloves to the pan and saute 1 min.
- Add the drained rice and fry for 6 minutes .
- Add salt and boiling water to the rice. Be careful as the water will splash over. Water should be added in the proportion 1 cup rice = 1 3/4 cup water.
- Add the lemon juice to the water, bring the flame to a simmer, lid the pan and cook till all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
- During this time, take some oil in a pan. Fry the cashews till a nice golden brown, the raisins till they puff up and the onions till they are browned and caramelized. Keep aside.
- Now that the chicken and the rice is cooked it is time for the assembly.
- Take the big pan with the chicken in it. Layer 1/3 of the rice over the chicken.
- Sprinkle some caramelized onions, cashews and raisins over it.
- Sprinkle some coriander leaves and a little garam masala powder over the rice.
- Dot the rice with the milk color solution in some places and pour 1 tsp of the rose water over the rice.
- Repeat this process thrice.
- Now it is time to put dum for the biryani. Dum is the process of layering the meat and rice, then cooking it by sealing the vessel with a layer of dough, and is cooked on dum – steaming over coals. Since we do not have coals here there are two other ways to do it.
- Make a dough out of the wheat flour / maida with some water they same way you would for chappathi. Close the vessel with the layered biryani and seal the edges of the lid with this dough as shown in the picture above. there should not be even the slightest opening and the briyani should cook and the flavors should meld together.
- Stove top method – Place a tawa or a frying pan on the lowest burner of your stove. The flame should be at the lowest setting. Place the biryani vessel on top of the frying pan and let cook for 20 minutes or so.
- Oven method – Preheat the oven to 200C. Place the biryani vessel in the oven and let bake for 40 minutes.
- Take the pan off the heat source and break open the seal. The smell will be amazing.
- Mix it up slightly if you want. Else use a long spoon to scoop out the layers right from the rice to the chicken onto a plate.
- Serve the biryani hot with some raitha, papad and a good pickle on the side.
Oh the smell is divine..amazing., and the taste is Yummy..!