Saturday, 5 October 2013

Malabar Chicken biriyani

This is what Kannur is known for and not bombs or other weapons as people Biryanis are  considered as the most royal dish in Muslim cuisine in almost all parts of Asia, whether India, Pakistan,Afghanistan or even among Arabs. Mughals brought this dish to India, but later this has got adapted all over the country with their own cultural variations. Some added lots of spices, some added colors and so on. What differentiated Thalassery/Kannur biryani from others is the use of Kaima/Jeerakasala rice instead of Basmati rice. No any function is complete without biryani in Kannur. Not only functions, but Fridays can also be the reason for biryanis. We make biryanis every Fridays; fish,mutton,chicken or even mixed seafood are our favourite ones.

Dum Pukht is a centuries old cooking technique used in India and Pakistan. The food is sealed inside a deep bottomed vessel otherwise known as Handi and slow cooked. The food is kept inside the handi and sealed with flour dough. This is then slow cooked on slow fire and the seal is broken on table and hence the aroma spreads in the air.The food ,when cooked in its own juices distinguishes it from other cuisines.

Here, I've tried to mix up both these cuisines- flavor from one and technique from the later. I didn't cook the food in dum , but layered through this process in dum for 20minutes after done with masalas and rice separately.

Ingredients: (for the masala)

Chicken 3/4kg
Yoghurt 3 tbsp
Ginger 1 1/2 tbsp
Garlic 1 1/2tbsp
Red chilli powder 1tsp
Green chilli 9
Ghee 1 tbsp
Oil 3 tbsp
Onion 2cups+
Tomato 1 cup
Cashews 4
Pepper powder 1 1/2tsp
Garam masala 1 tsp
Coriander leaves


1.Marinate chicken in curd, half of ginger-garlic paste,red chilli powder and salt for atleast an hour . Keep this marination in freezer for better & quicker results. Try not to use curd if you are marinating chicken for more than two hours. You can use it just an hour before cooking.

2.Heat oil  in a pan. Add 1 onion and the marinated chicken into it and fry it in medium-high flame till it is 1/2 done. Don't fry in low flame as then water oozes out from chicken.Take the chicken out.

3. Add remaining onions to the same pan and saute for a while,  till the onions turn translucent. You can add more oil if needed.Add crushed green chillies to it. You can add chillies according to your spice level. I used bird chilli here and was enough spicy for me.

4..Throw in tomatoes. Saute for a while till the masala is almost done. Now add the fried chicken and a tsp of garam masala to it. Saute in high flame for about 1-2 minutes so that the flavor of the chicken gets locked inside. Lower the flame after that and simmer for a while till the chicken is completely done. Add 1 tsp of pepper to this. 

5.Add cashew paste and let it boil.

6.Take care that not too much gravy is t left behind. If masala is too watery reduce it in high flame & if chicken is already cooked well, you can remove the meat & then reduce the gravy. 


Ghee 1 1/2 Tbsp
Oil 3-5 Tbsp
Onion 1
Cashew a few (about 10 or more)
Raisins a few
Cardamom 2
Cloves 2
Cinnamon stick 1"
Rice 3 cups (preferably Jeearakasala/Kayama rice); u can use Basmati rice too
Lemon juice 2 Tbsp
Boiling water 5 1/2 cups


1.Heat oil & ghee in a  deep bottomed non-stick pan & fry onions in it. These are the onions we use for garnishing at the end. So it should be dark browned just as in the picture. Always while deep frying onions, we should take them off  from the oil a little earlier as about 30% of frying is done after we took them off. This is applicable in case of snacks and definitely the onions. 

2.Once onion is fried, take them into a tissue paper. Now fry the cashews & then the raisins in the same oil. Remove them also once they are done.

3.Now add the whole spices (cloves,cardamom & cumin). Let them fry till you get a nice aroma from it (just for a few seconds).Add more oil if needed fr the rice.

4.The next step is to add rice into it & fry/roast them  until they are slightly browned; about 5-6 minutes in medium-low flame. You have to saute in between, but take care that the rice is not further broken into pieces. This is usually done so that the rice remains separated even after cooking. I think this is done only when using Jeerakasala/Kayama rice. Now add required amount of boiling water to it.  During the whole process, take care the oil is not left unattended in between frying onions or cashews or spices . Keep all these things ready by the side & do it all one by one. 

5.Add lemon juice & salt to it.

6.When the water & rice reaches the same level, close the lid and allow the rice to cook in low flame. Just turn the rice over once in between and then simmer in low heat till it is done.

For Dum (Layering):

Coriander leaves 1/4 cup
Mint Leaves 2 Tbsp
Garam Masala 1 tbsp
Rose water  1 1/2 tsp
Saffron a generous pinch soaked in 2 tbsp of warm milk


Take a non-stick or deep bottomed pan or Handi for Dum process. This process is usually layering the rice & masala alternatively so that the flavor of masala is infused n the rice.The aroma is locked inside.  You can line the pan if it is not non-stick with Ghee. Now put some rice on the bottom and then the masala, a little garam masala and half of both the coriander & mint leaves metioned. Now again layer the rice and the remaining masala,garam masala and the leaves. Top with half of the fried onions,nuts and raisins. Sprinkle rose water and saffron here and there. 

Now prepare a dough with atta and lock the mouth of the pan with this dough and lid.Now this is the authentic technique used. Otherwise you can just keep a weight  or a big vessel filled with water over the lid. This is then kept on dum on very low flame. I used to keep a lid between the flame and the vessel so that the bottom of the rice is not burnt. 

 If you are using a Handi, make a roti using the dough and cover the mouth of the handi using it. Then bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes at 180 C. This roti is usually eaten with rice.

Garnish with fried onions ,nuts & raisins & serve hot with kachumber,raitas, achars,,,,,,.... 

*** Some like more masala & some others prefer less. While attempting for the first time, reserve some masala by the side and then put the remaining on Dum. You can later on mix with the rice or serve separately on the table if you feel that the masala is not enough.

***Remove cardamom,cloves and cinnamon from the rice while layering in Dum. Otherwise many won't like to bite them while having their rice.


  1. Biryani looks simply delicious !

  2. Although i am vegetarian, biryani looks awesome and delicious!!!

  3. so fluffy and tasty looking biriyani

  4. haha... i like that first statement!!! when somebody tells uppa that they are from kannur, immediately he remarks, aa kannur melekku vedi vekunna sthalamalle!!! lol... eppo it's much better alle... the biriyani looks so yumm... there's nothing to celebrate occassions than a plate of biriyani...

  5. Omg, even a vegetarian will definitely drool if she or he saw this biryani post..Am just drooling here.

  6. Oh my! Fabulous biryani especially for biryani lovers like us.. Looks delicious.. Do visit my blog..

  7. wow...loved the layer biryani..yeah..I agree that customized cuisines always performs too I can see the are rocking!

  8. I get pretty excited about rice also and I especially love when it has some veggies mixed in!

  9. I really like paneer fried rice this is my favourite dish

  10. super!!!!!!!!
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