Sindhi Biryani and Raita infused with Roasted Cumin

Happy New Year, PPnSH readers! There is something rather odd about Pakistanis, young and old – no matter how much we have eaten all day, we always have an appetite for Biryani. This Biryani recipe has been sent straight from Sindh by my lovely phupho. Whenever she is visiting, we beg her to cook us this meal. In fact, back at her home it is made every Friday.

Sindhi Briyani is tangier, spicier and has potatoes in it.  When complemented with roasted cumin seed and green chili infused Raita, you will be left licking your fingers off . . . .  and your plate.

Don’t let the overwhelming amount of ingredients worry you. This is the easiest way to make Biryani. Here’s what you’ll need:

Serves 2-4 people depending on your appetite

For the Biryani Masala:

500 gms of skinless chicken, cut into pieces (about half a chicken)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 medium onion sliced
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paster
5-6 dried plums (aalu bukhara), washed
2 potatoes, cut into 4, vertically
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup of water

Spices:

1 tbsp salt
1 heaping tbsp red chili powder (warning: cut to half if you’re not into spicy food)
1/4 tbsp tumeric powder (haldi)
1/2 tbsp coriander powder (sookha dhuniya)
1/4 tbsp garam masala
1/2 tsp chaat masala

For the Rice Layers:

2 and half cups of rice
3-4 strands of saffron or alternatively 1/4 tsp of yellow food coloring; either one soaked in 1 tbsp of water
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp salt
water for boiling
mint leaves for garnish 

For the Raita:

1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 black pepper seeds
1 tsp ground sugar
1 tsp salt
2 and half cups of yogurt
1 green chili, de-seeded  and chopped
1/2 tomato, chopped 

I am excited to be sharing this recipe; such is our love for Pakistani cuisine. You will start with the Briyani Masala but first, soak your rice in cold water about 2 hours before you start.

Start off by heating the oil in a pot or deep pan over medium heat. In it, saute the garlic-ginger paste till it just starts to turn golden. Add the chicken and saute till it completely changes color; about 5 mins. Then add the spices except the coriander powder and garam masala. Saute a little more. Add the sliced potatoes and dried plums, stir.

Add the 1/2 cup of water, lower the heat, cover and let it simmer for about 8 mins- by this time, the water will have dried out.  Meanwhile, blend together the yogurt, onions and tomatoes till smooth.

Add it to the chicken and stir. Time to turn up the heat. You’re going to cook it for another 10-15 mins till the masala turns a beautiful golden red. At this point add the coriander powder and garam masala.

Keep stirring in with splashes of water if starts to dry out too much. Once all the oil gathers on top, you’re done. You will be left with a light gravy. Turn off the heat and set aside.

Time to cook the rice. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the salt to it. Boil the pre-soaked rice till it is almost done but not completely cooked through. Drain.

Take another deep pot. Layer it with half the rice. Then add a layer of all the Biryani Masala with the chicken and finally, top with a final layer of rice.  Pour over the saffron water (or food coloring, if you’re using that).  Pour over the lemon juice. Garnish with a few mint leaves.

Cover the pot and put it on very low heat. This stage is known as putting the biryani on “dum”. It will take about another 5 mins for the flavors to mix through and the rice to fully cook. Do not open the lid during this time, you want to trap in all the heat. If you feel like the steam is escaping, put heavy pot on the lid to seal it.

Meanwhile, make your raita. In a dry pan, roast the cumin and black pepper seeds till they turn golden brown, ground them and set aside.

Blend together 3 tbsps of yogurt, chopped green chili and tomato, till smooth.

Add it to the rest of the yogurt along with the roasted cumin powder, salt and sugar. The taste of roasted cumin and green chili is divine.

Time to assemble. Open up your biryani and take in the sweet and spicy aroma of the biryani. Mix togther the layers, careful enough not to break the rice and well, just serve with the spicy raita. What a treat!

That’s it. Thank you for reading and have a good year!

 

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