Has this ever happened to you? You excitedly whip up a food delicacy inspired by a fancy restaurant or Instagram post, only to realise that it tastes or looks like nothing you imagined in your head? This especially applies to complicated dishes like biryani that involve several processes.
But fret not, we have the pleasure of Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji Chef, Culinary Expert, Mentor, Food Blogger & Author, Hospitality and Food Consultant and Srishti Khurana, Spokesperson, Unlimited Food Factory and Lajwaab Culinary Art who have been generous enough to open their gourmet box of secrets and reveal some expert tips when it comes to preparing the ideal biryani.
Crispy onions add to the charm
Biryani without an appetising sprinkling of crunchy and delicious fried onions (birista) would seem incomplete, wouldn’t it? There is a way to attain that authentic gourmet taste. As per Expert Chef Reetu, to ensure that they are crisp, you should finely slice the onion, add salt and keep it aside for 10 minutes. Do not forget to get rid of the moisture before deep frying it. Other things to keep in mind, according to her is to freeze the birista instead of refrigerating it and put it on an absorbent paper to get rid of excess oil.
Swapping oil with ghee
It is a proven fact that ghee comes in the ‘healthy fat’ category and is beneficial for you. This wonder lends the food that rich and tasty appeal. Srishti suggests, “While making biryani, use ghee instead of cooking oil. This will make your biryani more flavoursome.”
Marination is key
We are all looking for shortcuts in life, but when it comes to the marination process, make sure that you do not skip it. Reetu stresses this step as it offers an attractive flavour and tenderness to the chicken as well as acts as a preservative. This a true case of it being worth the time and effort!
The saffron touch
You might already be aware that saffron is an integral part of most types of biryani. But how you use it makes a difference too. Srishti suggests always soaking saffron in hot water for 10-15 minutes before using it. This will add a fine colour to your recipe.
Lemon for the extra zest
Offering a lip-smacking tangy flavour as well as keeping your digestion in check, lemon works as a double treat. Here is how you can use this citrus delight to your advantage once again. As per Reetu, when you add lemon to the preparation it a) keeps rice grains from sticking together and b) gives it that appealing white colour. The ideal case of the appearance matching the taste!
Balancing the burnt flavour
With so many steps to follow, there might be chances of a slip-up, say something might get burnt. Srishti comes to our aid once again. She advised, “While preparing biryani always remember to turn off the heat at the right time. However, there is a rescue if you burn your biryani. Separate the good portions and add dried lemon to the burnt portion. This will balance out the burnt flavour.”
The bay leaf tip
Bay leaves can be touted as the magic seasoning, lending an irresistible flavour and aroma that is synonymous with a scrumptious plate of biryani. You can double the impact with this trick. Reetu tells you to put around eight bay leaves at the bottom of the dum vessel. This will not only give that flavour but also ensure that you do not have rice getting stuck below. And do not forget to remove the leaves while serving!
The sliced tomato trick
Sometimes, the biryani with its rich oils can leave a stain and stick to the plate as well. To avoid this, Srishti has the perfect solution. “Place finely sliced tomato pieces on top of your biryani serving plate. Then place your biryani. This will avoid biryani from sticking onto the serving place,” she says. This will also help in adding to the visual appeal of the dish as well!
A big enough vessel
Yes, size does matter in this case. Do not go stingy on the vessel used. Either opt for a bigger vessel or downsize the quantity of food to be prepared accordingly. What you use for cooking your rice should be big enough so that there is enough space to cook. That is how you will attain that restaurant-type rice that appears to be wonderfully spread instead of being unappealingly crammed together. Also, make sure that you soak the rice for 30 minutes and do not overcook it.
The right quantity of yoghurt
Earlier on, we wrote about the importance of marination. You see, how you do this step matters as well. If you go overboard with the yoghurt, the consistency of the biryani will suffer, making it mushy. So, ensure that the quantity used is just about right.
Here’s to happy cooking!