Regal Flavors in Every Bite: Awadhi Chicken Biryani
500g chicken, cut into pieces & 1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon red chili powder, garam masala & biryani masala
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup fried onions & milk
A handful of chopped mint leaves & cilantro leaves
A pinch of saffron strands & salt to taste
2 cups Basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
4-5 cups water for boiling the rice
Whole spices (2 bay leaves, 4-5 cloves, 4-5 green cardamoms, 1-inch cinnamon stick)
Ghee (clarified butter) & Rose water
Saffron milk (prepared using saffron strands soaked in warm milk)
In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients listed under "Chicken Marination" except for the saffron milk. Mix well to coat the chicken pieces evenly. Cover the bowl and let it marinate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight in the refrigerator for the best flavor.
In a large pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the soaked and drained Basmati rice, along with whole spices and salt. Cook the rice until it's 70% cooked (it should have a slight bite to it). Drain the water and set the parboiled rice aside.
Soak a pinch of saffron strands in 1/4 cup of warm milk and set it aside.
In a heavy-bottomed, large pot or handi, add a layer of marinated chicken at the bottom.
On top of the chicken layer, add a portion of the partially cooked Basmati rice.
Sprinkle fried onions, chopped mint, and cilantro over the rice. Drizzle some ghee, rose water, and kewra water (if using) on this layer. Also, add a few spoonfuls of saffron milk.
Repeat the layers until all the ingredients are used up. The topmost layer should be rice. Finally, add more fried onions, mint, cilantro, ghee, saffron milk, and a sprinkle of garam masala powder on top.
Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid. To ensure a proper seal, use chapati dough to stick the lid to the pot's edges. This will trap the steam inside and allow the flavors to meld together.
Place the sealed pot on a tava (griddle) or a heat diffuser and cook on very low heat for about 45-60 minutes. Alternatively, you can also use an oven for Dum cooking.
Once the Dum cooking is complete, carefully remove the lid and discard the dough seal. Gently fluff the biryani with a fork to mix the layers.
Serve the aromatic and flavorful Awadhi Chicken Biryani hot with raita, salad, and your favorite side dishes.