Whether you are planning a party or a gathering, or are simply craving feast fit for royals- you know that one thing that will not disappoint. Yes, we are indeed talking about Biryani. The one-pot meal has captured the fancy of billions. Biryani is essentially a combination of meat, spices and rice, which may sound like a cakewalk on paper, but it is only when you get down to making it do you realise that it is not as easy as it sounds. There are a number of factors that can make or break your biryani, the ratio of rice, the spices you use, the quantity of spices you use, the meat you cook etc. We asked Chef Hitein Puri of Cafe Staywoke (Gurgaon) and Chef Devraj Sharma of Crowne Plaza (New Delhi Okhla) to tell us a few common errors that could be ruining our biryanis
Here Are Some Common Mistakes We Do While Making Biryani At Home:
1. Not Knowing The Quality Of The Rice
Usually, the ones aged for longer require up to 30 minutes for soaking, while the lesser aged varieties require not more than 10 minutes. This plays an important role in the finished product.
(Also Read: 17 Best Biryani Recipes | Easy Biryani Recipes)
You can to be very careful about the rice you choose.
2. Underestimating The Power Of Aroma
Biryani without its quintessential aroma is a massive fail. In restaurants, chefs always use a variety of aromatic spices or agents just before putting the biryani for dum. You can also make your own dum masala which is 2 part elaichi and 1 part javitri powder or Kewra or rose water. One can also use brown onions, mint, coriander and even halved lemons.
3. Get Your Biryani Jhol Right
This is a technique that most restaurants keep to themselves. If you are not confident about cooking the meat and rice together, you can "pre-dum cook" the rice in what we call a biryani jhol- loads of ghee cooked with whole spices and then topped with milk, butter and cream. The fat helps in keeping the rice separate and give a luxurious feel. Once the rice is 40% done, take it out from the water and cook the rice up to 80-100% in the jhol, covered with a lid on low heat. You can then use this rice for dum cooking with your choice of meat or vegetable.
4. Seasoning Your Water May Help
The water to cook the rice must be seasoned adequately. The water should be on a slightly saltier side before you put the rice in. The rice will absorb the water and be perfectly seasoned by the time it's cooked. So, if the total amount of water and rice is 1.5kg, adding 15gms of salt in water is ideal.
5. Being Mindful About The Ratio Of Onions Is A Good Idea
As a rule of thumb, the onion to rice ratio should be at least 1:2. Additionally, keeping a handful of brown onion is extremely essential in making excellent biryani.
(Also Read: Which Is The Best Biryani Of India? Bigwigs Join The War On Twitter)
Onions are important for good quality biryani
6. Choosing Wrong Grain Of Basmati
Always choose the long-grained Basmati rice over short-grained rice. Due to heavy starch content, short-grained rice tends to turn mushy.
7. Overcooking Rice
The rice should be parboiled before we mix it with meat, spices and other ingredients and then cooked again. Undercooking or overcooking of rice calls of a definite disaster.
8. Not Giving Adequate Steam.
A lot of people complain that their Biryani is very dry. The secret lies in perfect steaming. The heat should be just enough to raise the steam and not more. One can ensure perfect heat distribution by using a heavy 'tawa' under the pot. Don't forget to use the kneaded dough to seal the lid.
9. Treat Rice And Masala Separately Is Advisable
Contrary to popular opinion, Biryani is not a spicy mix of meat, spices and rice. In reality, we are supposed to treat the rice and the mix separately. The flavour of rice needs to be subtle, while the mix needs to be interfused with flavours.
Masalas make the biryani top notch
Photo Credit: iStock
10. Make Your Own Masala, If You Can
I would also recommend using raw spices such as cinnamon sticks, cloves, fresh bay leaves and star anise to add to the real flavours. Homemade fried onions are any day better than the store-bought ones which lack flavour and aroma.
Keep these tips in mind and put up a great show! Happy cooking!