Biryani paste is the flavor base of biryani, a famous and well loved Indian dish. To make biryani, meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetables are cooked with biryani paste and sandwiched between layers of aromatic saffron rice. The entire dish is cooked slowly in a closed pot, and then served hot and crackling from the container it is cooked in, or carefully unmolded onto a serving platter. In many parts of the world, biryani is an integral part of regional cuisine, and it would not be the same without biryani paste.
The Farsi root for biryani, birian, means “fried.” The origins of the dish are unclear, since multiple nations make a number of variations on it. In biryani, the rice is traditionally fried in ghee before it is cooked, creating a characteristic texture, scent, and taste. The rice is usually seasoned with saffron or other aromatic spices as well. Once the rice is mixed with food cooked with biryani paste and the mixture is slowly cooked, the result is a complex, multilayered dish which is ideal for special occasions.
The ingredients of biryani paste vary widely, depending on where the paste is made. Some cooks prefer to make the paste fresh every time they need it, while others make up a batch of biryani paste and store it in a cool dry place for periodic use. In either case, biryani paste is made by grinding spices such as coriander, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, chili, salt, pepper, garlic, and cinnamon together with oil. The result is a gritty, oily paste which can be mixed with the foods used in the biryani.
To make a classic biryani, start by washing and soaking long grained rice while you sautee vegetables and or meats of your choice with garlic, ginger, onion, and tomatoes. As the food is cooking, add biryani paste. If you do not feel up to making your own, you can purchase pre-made biryani paste at many stores. Once everything is cooked, use another pot to caramelize onions and garlic in ghee or oil before adding saffron, cloves, and a cinnamon stick. Add the rice, and stir until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
In the rice pot, make a layer of the rice and follow it with the pre-cooked food.
Ingredients – Marinade:
1 whole chicken, 1.4 – 1.5kg
125ml sunflower oil
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
2 medium onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp garlic
2 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
200ml fresh cream
Salt to taste
Coriander to garnish
Ingredients – To assemble the Biryani
100g brown Biryani lentils, boiled until tender
4 medium potatoes, quartered and deep fried.
600ml Spekko Long Grain Parboiled Rice
1 tsp saffron
250ml boiling water
Roast saffron strands in a little pan. Remove from heat and crush gently. Steep crushed saffron in boiling water. Remove skin from chicken and cut into portions. In a large pot, heat oil and add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, cardamom and cloves. When the whole spices are fragrant, add sliced onion and fry until golden brown. Pour the fried onion with the whole spices and oil into a mixing bowl. Add the salt, ground spices, fresh cream and ginger and garlic paste. Mix well. Use this spice paste to coat the chicken pieces. Once the mixture is cool, place the marinated chicken in the refrigerator for 6 – 8 hours. Boil lentils for 20 – 25 minutes or until tender. Rub salt on potato and deep fry on a medium heat until they are cooked through and golden brown. Par cook the rice in 4 litres of salted boiling water. It should be 95% cooked. Strain. Place marinated chicken in a large pot. Cook chicken on a low heat, adding water if necessary. Simmer until chicken is 90% cooked. Remove from heat. Place fried potatoes in the marinated chicken. Sprinkle half the lentils over the chicken and potatoes. Cover with half the par cooked rice. Repeat the process, reserving some lentils for the top of the rice. Pour the saffron infusion over the rice and dollop butter over. Cover with foil, place pot lid over and simmer on a very low heat for 10 minutes. Alternately, you could cook the Biryani in the oven at 120 degrees for 30 minutes. Garnish with crispy fried onion slices or coriander.
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Yudhika recommends Spekko Long Grain Rice for this dish because
This is Spekko Rice’s everyday rice option, and has been tested & acknowledged by the GI Foundation as LOW GI. This is unique for par-boiled rice & Spekko is proud to have this endorsement – what a great benefit to the consumer – as it slowly releases energy into the blood stream, keeping you full for longer.
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