First of all, Eid Mubarak! For those of you who were fasting, and let’s face it, for those who weren’t either, it’s time for some amazing feasts. What will you be having? Chicken biryani, made well, is the food I know I want to have tomorrow for Eid. It’s what I crave the most. You can be certain that 9 times out of 10, if you ask me what I feel like eating, I will answer biryani. No, I don’t eat it all that often, it’s just something I do tend to want often. Fragrant, spicy, and bursting with a dozen flavours, it has so many of my favourite ingredients; such as, cilantro, lemon, chicken, rice, onions, garlic and more, why wouldn’t I want it?
I don’t think I have ever had 2 home made biryanis that tasted the same- even when both were cooked using the same ready made spice mix. Everyone adds their own flair to it, whether it’s how they fried the dried spices in oil or the garnish they added on top of the rice. However, nothing is as good as biryani made from scratch at home. A simple biryani can take as little as 1 hour from start to finish or 3 to 4 hours. I remember it was so exciting growing up when I came home from school and heard we were going to have biryani for dinner. It’s a labour of love as it’s made to share with family and friends and is generally made in large portions. Both my husband and I firmly believe that biryani tastes better the second and third day as leftovers so there is no hesitation in making a lot of it. The effort is the same after all.
Somehow, many people depend on restaurants for biryani, but I’m not sure why. I rarely like the way they make it, with the occasional exception of a really flavourful biryani made in a traditional clay pot sealed with dough to steam the rice. Those, I love. It’s the classic way to make a dum biryani. (Dum refers to the method the rice is steamed in by sealing the pot/dish). There is an inexplicable joy in tearing apart the baked bread gently to reveal steaming colourful rice and chicken under it in a clay pot. Absolutely drool worthy. Obviously, we can’t make these at home in the same way, unless you have a traditional tandoor or are using hot coals. So yes, restaurants that make biryani in that way, I am definitely paying a visit to.
I am fascinated by the spices and ingredients used in Indian/Pakistani cooking. They are so much fun to cook with and some times it feels like biryani uses so many of them! Chicken biryani is just the standard favourite. There are a thousands types of biryanis all over India and Pakistan. It changes so much depending on the main protein used and the location. South India alone has hundreds of variations. I would love to travel all over India and taste the biryani in every major city. A food + travel series that featured India that I really enjoyed was called The Great Escape, hosted by Gordon Ramsay. Here is a cool segment on a Goat stuffed with chicken stuffed with quail biryani! Fwd to 14:00 in the video.
Everyone has different versions they like outside of their home and I can guarantee that more often than not, it’s the roadside, cheap café style biryani that is the favourite. In Karachi, Pakistani, for example, there is a chain called Student Biryani that started with 1 man selling biryani outside a school over 45 years ago. Guess what? They have just opened up a location here in Canada and I can’t wait to go try it out because usually, what we eat in restaurants out of the subcontinent doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s why I like experimenting with biryani at home and promise to continue to (hint- the dough/dum version is coming soon) and this is just one of the ways I have made it. It’s aromatic, light, and flavourful, and isn’t in any way pretentious. Perfect for family or friends coming over for Eid tonight or tomorrow. Let us know how you like it.
Coming soon: Spicy Masala Biryani
hAPPY eATING & kEEP sMILING
We update this page regularly with foodie tips, stories, recipes, videos, pictures, and more. Stay connected with us!