Men Who Cook – Biryani by Kedar Gavane
The latest in our Men Who Cook series is a Biryani recipe from Kedar Gavane. Kedar Gavane is Director of Comscore, India and one of the most large hearted people around. He’s a smooth talker that can convince delivery guys to bring him things from competing stores, charm repairmen and somehow get a free fridge in the bargain and make friends with everyone along the way. Kedar’s special skill is connecting people and building a family wherever he goes. His home has always been like a hotel for every friend passing through the city and a meeting place for everyone living around him. Open bar, endless laughter and when he decides to cook, delicious food too. Flavorful, fragrant, spicy briyanis are his signature and he tells us a little about how his famous biryani recipe was perfected:
I had seen my mom cook and always appreciated cooking shows on TV. I keenly followed the small tips but never paid attention to the main recipe in those shows. My first biryani cooking experience was horrific. I was all by myself in a foreign land with no idea of what spices to buy and with access only to a small pressure cooker. I cooked all the ingredients in the pressure cooker for over 45 minutes and at the end, the biryani was so overcooked that I could not differentiate between the chicken pieces and rice. Over the next 10-12 days, I tried to cook biryani everyday and tried to change a few things in every attempt. The final time when it turned out the way I wanted, I almost filmed it like a model shoot. From then on, biryani has always been a very special meal to cook and eat.
(for 2-3 biryani lovers)
6 shot glasses full of Basmati Rice.
4-6 Chicken leg pieces
1 tsp Turmeric powder
1 tsp Red Chili powder
1 tsp Biryani Masala (Everest, MDH, or any other)
1/2 tsp Cumin powder
1/2 tsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Garam Masala
2 Cinnamon sticks
6-8 large Cashew pieces
150 gms of Yogurt
3 large Green Chilies, chopped
2 large Onions, sliced in rings
1 large Onion, chopped
1 tbs Ginger Garlic paste
1 inch piece of fresh Ginger
2 cloves of Garlic
1 tsp Ghee/butter
Oil for cooking
Salt to taste
Clean the chicken. To the yogurt add 1 tea spoon of salt, turmeric, red chilli powder, the ginger garlic paste and chopped green chillies. Add the chicken pieces to the yogurt and leave it to marinate for at least an hour.
Rinse and soak the rice for at least 3o minutes. I prefer to cook in the rice cooker by letting the rice cook for 80% of the usual time. Use a strainer to take the water out and leave the rice out for 5 minutes. Whatever method you’re using, cook the rice so it’s still a little underdone.
Brown the onions rings in a pan and keep them aside to use as a garnish later
Use the chopped onions, the piece of ginger, garlic cloves and make a paste in the grinder. Heat the ghee in a pan and try the paste for 2-3 minutes. Add the garam masala, biryani masala, cumin powder and coriander powder as well as the cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to the mixture. Fry for another 3-5 minutes.
Add the marinated chicken pieces and 1 cup of water to the vessel. You want to the water to just about cover the chicken. The amount of water here is important as it will finally decide how wet or dry your biryani will be. Add another tea spoon of salt to taste. Cook for 10-15 minutes till the chicken is 80% cooked.
Take a large vessel with a flat bottom and good height and a lid. Lightly oil the bottom of the pan so nothing sticks. Add a layer of chicken gravy and pieces and a layer of rice over it. Repeat the steps till you run out of the rice and gravy. 2 layers of rice and 2 layers of gravy is a perfect mix. Squeeze one large lemon over the top and cover the vessel. Keep the flame really low to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the vessel. In case you need to mix, use a large spatula and stir very gently, in a folding action. The movement of the spatula is very important as it might break the rice grains and the biryani will look closer to a khichadi.
Keep the vessel covered for another 10 minutes or so. Check the chicken and rice in about 5 minutes to check if they’re cooked. Keep the flame low till completely cooked.
Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and the browned onion rings. Squeeze another half of lemon on top. Serve in a large bowl with some deep fried onion, lime pieces and raita on the side.