The Perfect Hyderabadi Dum Biryani

The Perfect Hyderabadi Dum Biryani

The Perfect Hyderabadi Dum Biryani


Along with the Tandoori style of cooking of the Old City, Hyderabadi Biryanis are the greatest export of the Nizams Kitchen. While the Deccan version is spicier than the Northern types there are hundreds of ways to make it but each is distinct much like our own signatures, so, here’s another version on the Mighty Biryani, cleverly delayed because Bhanu and myself were trying to simplify it and make it as authentic as possible.

In the last five years, this recipe has come a long way, almost every month Bhanu will give it a tweak, in search for that traditional Hyderabad flavour whose magic could be re-created in any kitchen. The patience has paid off, as we have finally made it very easy to follow and execute.

There are umpteen recipes and blogs on the famous Hyderabadi Biryani, but none that simplifies the process, as a cook in the old city would do. Just remember these few points. The biryani’s flavour is enhanced by the use of salt, not too much or not too little, that is why we have told you how much salt is needed. Our research shows us that this is the key along with the different stages of making this biryani. Don’t forget the three degrees to which rice is boiled before being out in layers. Don’t be tempted to add water this will only make the end product soggy, remember the meat will release enough moisture and that’s enough to cook and keep the precooked rice moist. Do not disturb the Dum process until steam is forcing its way out of the lid, it is then the Biryani is ready, at this point it will be silky and moist, over cooking will dry it very quickly.

And lastly, patience is the key factor for a good Hyderabadi Biryani. The timings we have given are just a guide, but Hyderabadi cooking has to be done itminan se (patiently, a virtue that Bhanu has plenty of.) This recipe can serve about 8 people so, enjoy Hyderabad’s famous verses

Aala Pakwaan ka Aalaa Zayekha aapko Naseeb ho. Khuda Hafiz. (May the Grand tastes from the Grand Kitchen be in your Destiny. God Be with you)

Hyderabadi Biryani with Onion & Cucumber Raita, Cachumber and Micro Cress with Cucumber flowers

The Marination Ingredients:

  1. 2 Kg Whole Chicken (Cut into 16 pieces, approx. Bone-in)
  2. 2 Cinnamon Sticks (2”piece)
  3. 8 Whole Cardamom
  4. 5 Whole Cloves
  5. 31/2 tbsp Red Chili Powder
  6. ⅛ tsp Turmeric
  7. 4 tbsp Salt
  8. 4 Green Chilies (Half Slit)
  9. 1 Medium Onion- very thinly sliced

The Spices Ingredients:

  1. 2 tsp Garam Masala
  2. 1 tsp Green Cardamom Powder
  3. 450 gm Thick Yoghurt
  4. 6 tbsp. Mint leaves chopped
  5. 6 tbsp. Coriander leaves chopped
  6. 2 Medium Onion (very thinly sliced, and golden fried, reserve some for Dum)
  7. 180 gm Ginger Garlic Paste

The Rice Ingredients:

  1. 750gm Aged XL Long Grain Basmati Rice
  2. 3 tbsp Salt
  3. 1 Cardamom
  4. 2 Cloves
  5. ½ inch Cinnamon

The Dum Ingredients:

  1. 5 tbsp. Ghee (Not Clarified Butter!!)
  2. ½ Lemon Juiced
  3. A Pinch of Saffron
  4. A Few Drops of Kewra (Screw Pine) Essence
  5. A pinch of Garam Masala
  6. 4 tbsp Deep Fried Onions
  7. 4 tbsp Finely Chopped Coriander and Mint
  8. 30 ml Hot Milk (to soak the saffron strands)
  9. Clean Tea Towel
  10. Cling Film and Foil

The Pre-Prep:

  1. Soak saffron strands in hot milk, reserve till the end.
  2. Thinly slice onions and fry them in oil till golden and crisp. Set aside until needed reserving the oil for later.
  3. Clean wash and cut chicken to approx 16 pieces
  4. In a bowl put together the Chicken with the ingredients listed on ‘The Marination’, and let it marinate for 2 Hours.
  5. After 2 hours add the ingredients from ‘The Spices’ keep aside.
  6. Pick and wash the Basmati rice and let it stand in Cold water for 30 Minutes. And Drain.
  7. In a large pot of water, add 1 tbsp ghee & the ingredients from ‘The Rice’, except the rice, let the water come to a fierce boil.

The Biryani:

  1. In a deep and large heavy bottomed cooking pot, on a very low heat add 1tbsp of ghee and 3 tbsp the reserved oil from the fried onions, when the ghee melts add a 1 tsp of Shahi Jeera and the marinated Chicken.
  2. In the meanwhile add the rice to the boiling water, when the rice is 20% done which should be in 3-4 minutes, using a perforated spoon take out 1/3rd the quantity of rice and add to the pot where the Chicken is cooking.
  3. After another 4 minutes or when the rice is cooked 65% take out another 1/3rd and layer on top of the Chicken. Sprinkle some Kewra Essence and 1tbsp of the Coriander Mint mix and 1tbsp of fried onions.
  4. After another 4 minutes or when the rice is cooked 90% drain the remaining rice and add to the final layer in the pot.
  5. Don’t let the bottom of the pan burn, you could place the biryani pot on top of a thick skillet, or place it on charcoal with a bit of charcoal on top.
  6. The Biryani needs to be moist and the grain single and silky.

The Dum:

  1. When all the rice has been added into the pot, sprinkle all the ingredients from ‘The Dum’.
  2. Moisten the kitchen cloth and place on top of the layered rice, secure tightly with the clink film and then the foil, not cover tight with a flat lid.
  3. Raise the flame to medium and let the biryani cook for 20 minutes after this reduce heat to low and then keep on the flame for 20 minutes.
  4. When steam starts to come out of the pot then your biryani’s ready, if not cook it for another 10 minutes.

Dum literally means steam, the process of maturing of a prepared dish. Dum existed even before the advent of slow cookers, In the olden days the bawarchi (cook) would seal the pot with a dough made of flour and then put smoldering coal on top and the bottom to ensure the moisture stayed within. The heat was then distributed evenly. The advantage of this kind of cooking is that since vapor cannot escape all the flavors and aroma are retained in the food.


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