Ramadan is a month of fasting, prayers, spiritual purification. Long hours of fasting in this hot weather, makes it even more challenging. Hence, eating right, eating well and keeping your body hydrated becomes very important before and after breaking fast.
Towards the end of Ramadan, people look forward to the Eid celebration and start making preparations for the same, to make sure that everybody around are happy and satisfied.
Feasting together with family, friends and loved ones is an integral part of any celebration. Thus, when it comes to feasting Biryani becomes a much appreciated dish of the menu.
Yesterday when I made Malabar Chicken Biryani on Renee’s demand, all of a sudden it just striked me…………….,
Ah! It’s already been a month now since we celebrated our very own Rongali Bihu and was the time of the year when all the KHARKHOWA’S ( a typical name by which Assamese people are called) geared up to celebrate RONGALI BIHU the most popular and colorful festival of ASSAM. Rongali Bihu or Bohag Bihu is the festival that refers to the onset of the Assamese New Year (April 14th of every year). It is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy throughout the state.
Rongali Bihu is celebrated not only in Assam but all over the globe with the spirit of enthusiasm. We the Assamese community in Bahrain leaves no stones unturned to live up to the spirits of the Rongali Bihu. All our community men, women and children get together and start the preparations for the grand cultural event a month-long back.
We are a bunch of super talented people here, each one an artist………thus we never felt a need to invite artist from our homeland. Rather, preferred and encouraged our in house talents to nurture. Each one of us works really hard pulling out time from their respective hectic work schedule and schools routine to rehearse for the cultural programs like dance, music, drama.
The energy and enthusiasm of our community people here are quite commendable. Back to back practice sessions, until late night and then coping up with their routine life the next morning speaks about the undying spirit of Bihu inside every Assamese living here.
Now you cannot separate Bihu and feasting. From the day 1 its kind of a celebration, endless sah- singara ( tea- samosa) throughout the rehearsal and feasting time after every practice session. After all, the artists deserved something special post all the hard work.
It was during one of rehearsals time, I decided to treat our young performers with this lip-smacking Malabar Chicken Biryani.
FOR THE RICE
- 4 cups long grain Basmati rice
- 3-4 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-inch cinnamon stick
- 3-4 pods of cardamom
- Pinch of nutmeg
- 2 tbsp ghee
- Salt as per taste
- 8 cups water
For the Chicken gravy
- 1 kilo chicken
- 3 large oniond finely chopped
- 2 – 3 tsp fresh ginger garlic paste
- 3-4 green chilies
- 1 large tomato or 2 medium chopped
- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp fennel powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp black pepper powder
- 1-2 tsp red chili powder
- 1 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 4 tbsp Fresh mint leaves
- 3 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
- 1/2 cup thick yogurt ( my personal preference is yogurt, but 1/2 tsp of lemon juice can be also used instead of yogurt).
- 200 ml coconut milk
- 6-8 cashew nuts, grounded into a paste
- 5-6 tbsp canola oil
- Salt as per taste
For layering and garnishing
- 3/4 cup julienned and fried until golden brown onions
- 10 -12 cashew nuts
- Biryani masala 2-3 tsp
- 1/4 cup saffron soaked in warm milk
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander and mint leaves
For cooking the rice
- In a large sauce pan, heat ghee (clarified butter) add the whole spices and stir for a minute. Add 8 cups of hot water and let it boil, then goes into it washed and drained rice. Season it with salt keeping in mind the amount to be put into the gravy.
- Reduce heat, cover and let it cook until the rice is cooked 70%. Once done remove from heat, remove the lid, keep it open and fluff rice carefully, making sure it does not break. Let it cool down a bit before layering.
For the Chicken Gravy
- Marinate the chicken pieces with 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, yogurt, fennel powder, salt and keep it aside for at least half an hour to one hour, or over night in the fridge.
- Heat enough oil and deep fry the sliced onions until golden brown and keep it aside for layering and garnish.
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a deep heavy bottom sauce pan or cassarole. Add the remaining onions, whole spices, and cook until slightly brown. Now add the tomatoes and cook until oil separates.
- Add the marinated chicken into it and cook on a medium to high heat for a couple of minutes. Now add the spice powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder, cumin, coriander and chili powder. Add some of the chopped coriander and mint leaves. Keep stirring until well combined. Close the lid and let the chicken cook on a medium-low heat.
- Once the chicken is completely done, add in the cashew paste and the coconut milk. ** Do not let the gravy boil, but let it simmer gently.
- Finally add the gram masala, chopped mint and coriander and give a final simmer for 3- 4 minutes. turn off the heat and keep it aside for some time before layering.