by Rahma Khan

Like most Pakistani households, Biryani is a household staple. Though normally cooked on
special occasions, for us, mom’s homemade chicken Biryani did not require a reason to be
prepared. Every weekend lunch began with a warm plate of Biryani. But since I moved out of
my parents home and into the city, the only Biryani I ate was at local restaurants, which didn’t
taste anywhere near the aromatic Bombay Biryani mom used to make.
When the pandemic hit, I turned home. The initial weeks were difficult as we struggled to adjust to changes in routine, working from home, and the mundane lifestyle of a shelter-in-place order. One Friday morning, I woke to the aroma of saffron rice and masala filled chicken! Upon asking my mom what all the celebratory cooking was about, she responded, “reunion of my family,” as she poured tomatoes to the chicken curry- just the way I like it. Her response almost brought me to tears. 

In many Muslim households, Biryani is cooked every Friday afternoon after the Friday prayers to mark the end of the week and start of the weekend. That day, I relived my fondest childhood memories of excitedly preparing the lunch table with my siblings and having a wholesome Biryani feast with the entire family! 

While things got dull and gloomy outside of our little haven – we found our happiness in a plate of mom’s Bombay Biryani,  just like the good old days.

The Recipe: Bombay Biryani (Chicken)

Ingredients:

1 cup boiled basmati rice

1/2 teaspoon mint leaves

salt as required

2 tablespoon refined oil

3 green cardamom

2 clove

2 onion

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon garlic paste

1 cup curd

2 tablespoon coriander leaves

water as required

1 tablespoon ghee

600 gm chicken

1 tablespoon garam masala powder

1 dash saffron

1 tablespoon bay leaf

1 black cardamom

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

4 green chilies

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1 teaspoon red chili powder

1/2 tablespoon ginger

2 drops kewra (salted water)

Directions

Preparation of saffron and kewra water (adds the aroma to the biryani):  soak saffron in water to prepare saffron water. Then, mix kewra drops in water and mix well to make kewra water.

Heat oil. Once hot, add cumin seeds, bay leaf, green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves. Sauté for up to a minute. Add chopped onion and sauté until the onion is pink. Add tomatoes and stir fry them until they are soft and rid of water.  Add chicken and slit green chilies, turmeric, salt to taste. Then add ginger and  garlic paste, red chili powder, and green chili paste. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes. Then, add curd. Cook until the chicken gets tender.

Slow cook on low heat for 5-6 minutes and garnishing

Turn the flame to medium and add the garam masala in it along with ginger julienned, coriander, and mint leaves. Add kewra water, rose water, and saffron water in it. Cook until the chicken is tender.

Add 1 cup cooked rice and spread evenly in the cooked chicken curry. Add saffron water and pour ghee over it. Cook for 15-20 minutes with closed lid and garnish with 1 tbsp. fried onions and coriander leaves. Serve hot  with blended spiced yogurt.

Rahma Khan is a travel blogger, a freelance independent journalist, and an occasional poet from Pakistan. Working as an engineer during the day and a writer by night, Rahma loves to solo travel whenever she gets time in between. Seeking, adventure, nature, culture and food whenever she is on the roads – Rahma documents her travel tales at thesaneadventurer.com

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