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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Dindigul Thalapakatti Biriyani

The Southern cuisine from India is replete with a whole lot of biryani varieties. It is as if each state has its own trademark version of the fragrant rice dish and the local masses swear by their own 'biriyani' (Yep...it is refferd to as biriyani in the South while the Northern parts prefer biryani). While the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani remains more popular on a pan national level, I was amazed by the popularity of the Chettinad and Ambur biryanis in Karnataka. But i guess the crown goes to Tamil Nadu when it comes to the sheer numbers. The Chettinad, Ambur and Dindigul biriyani all belong to different districts of the state.

A few ingredients more or less, use of different varieties of rice, cooking all the spices togather or separately frying each one can make a whole world of difference when it comes to the taste of biryani. For example, in case of the Dindigul biriyani, the onions, ginger-garlic, mint-corinader-chili, whole spices and tomato are all ground and fried separately. 'Treat each ingredient with its due respect' seems to be the mantra behind it. Sounds cumbersome if you compare it with the Hyderabdi biryani where everything is marinated and cooked together. But if you have the quest to try out the original Dindigul biriyani, you need to do it the right way. One can use mutton instead of chicken, but remember to cook the marinated mutton for 2-3 whistles along the spices before adding rice to it.

Read on for the recipe -

Preparation Time - 1 hour

Ingredients -

1 kg chicken on the bone (cut into medium sized pieces)
4 cups basmati rice ( the original recipe uses Seeraga Samba rice )
1 large + 1 medium sized onion
2 medium sized tomatoes ( i used country or local ones which were quite a bit tangy )
1 cup mint leaves (tightly packed)
2/3 cup coriander leaves (tightly packed)
3-4 green chilis
1 tbsp GG paste
2-3 green cardamom
2 bay leaves
3-4 cloves
2" cinnamon stick
salt to taste
3 tbsp ghee
2 tbsp oil
1 cup thick coconut milk ( though this can be optional, it adds an authentic flavor. I used only 1/2 cup instead of skipping it altogether )

For the marinade -

1/2 tbsp GG paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
2/3 cup yogurt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste

Preparation - Clean and pat dry the chicken pieces.

Take all the ingredients listed under marinade in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together and then add the chicken pieces to it. Rub the marinade over the chicken pieces for 5-6 minutes (important step). Cover the bowl and keep it in the fridge overnight (if not overnight at least 3-4 hours).

Peel and chop the onion into chunks. Transfer to a mixer and make a coarse paste. Keep aside.

Similarly, chop the mint, coriander and green chillis. Transfer to a mixer and make a coarse paste. Keep aside.

Finally chop the tomato into chunks and put in a mixer jar. Make a fine puree out of it. Keep aside.

Soak the basmati rice for 1-2 hours before cooking.

Cooking - Take the oil in a wide bottomed vessel and heat it. Add the ghee to it. When the ghee has melted, add the onion paste and fry till it turns light brown.

Add the GG paste and fry till raw smell goes away.

Add the mint-coriander-chili paste and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the whole spices and fry for 1 minute.

Add the tomato puree along with a little salt and fry till oil starts to ooze out.

Add the chicken pieces and stir everything together. Cook on a medium to high flame till chicken is about 70 percent done. Switch off the flame.

Wash and drain the rice. Heat a pressure cooker and add the rice to it. Smooth out the rice surface with a spatula. Add 1 cup coconut milk and enough water such that the level remains just an inch over the rice. Add the chicken and mix in. Finally pour a little ghee over the contents of the pressure cooker.

Close the lid and cook for approx 12-15 mins or till 1 whistle. Remove from flame and keep aside for 15-20 mins.

Open the lid and fluff up the rice grains with a fork.

Serve hot with raita.

For the Biryani lovers, check out these popular varieties on my Blog :-

1. Chettinad Veg Biriyani

2. Vegetable Biriyani (Hyderabadi recipe)

3. Ambur Chicken Biriyani

4. Chicken Kofta Biryani

5. Hyderabadi Chicken Biriyani

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