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Problem With My Dum Biryani


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I have made Chicken Dum Biryani at least three times. Twice on the stove and the third time in the oven. The problem I have every time is that after the allotted cooking time is done and I take a fork to check the bottom of the pan to make sure the chicken is done, there will be juices at the bottom of the pan instead of it being dry. Since there shouldn't be juices once its cooked, I end up cooking it for another thirty minutes or more which cooks away the juices but also dries the chicken. What am I doing wrong? I do marinate the chicken the night before in yoghurt. Would using less yoghurt and draining it from a muslin cloth of excess water do the trick? Any advice as to how to solve this problem would be greatly appreciated!

thanks.

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Please specify whether you are cooking kacchi/pakki dum biryani, i.e. raw meat topped by par-cooked rice? Whose recipes are you using?

This is an art best learned by watching, and you may go to gourmetindia.com, biryani thread for more discussions. The shape of the vessel is important, the amount of fat is too, but it is NOT such an arcane art that truly low-fat biryani cannot be made simply wth great ease using a microwave to parboil. I used to be a great traditionalist, using acidulated water to exactly parboil rice to exact specifications and be the ultimate stickler for details.

Most basmati today is from hybrid varieties. A 3 quart square corningware type casserole will accomodate a bit more than 4 measurng cups of reasonably OK basmati rice that has been well washed, drained and air dried. That rice when JUST covered with water, and no more, in a 1000 W microwave at 22:22 will yield the 1 kanni & 1.5 kanni rice in perfect sequence. That is, the less-cooked rice needed to go over the raw meat will be found at the top of the casserole to the requisite depth, and what remains on the bottom of the casserole goes on the top of the biryani container.

For 4 cups of rice, almost 2 kg of meat is appropriate and a 9-11 quart Sitram Profesorie rondeux brazier is ideal; even a larger size is fine, a 15 qt being excellent. Large is good, always, because the best biryanis are made in a lagan. I suspect you have been using a Le Creuset or Staub dutch oven, true? The cylindrica shape is not useful. Even a 17, 19, 22 inch sauteuse with cover is a good utensil. Low sides, lower than 5-6 inches.

In traditonal biryanis and zarebirian, the ratio of fat can be as high as 500 grams ghee to 750 grams meat in kacchi/kacchi [raw meat/raw rice], depending on the types of meat & rices used. Long-grain Basmati is not always favored. The waters dry up and one actually keeps time by touching the sides of the vessel with a wet finger, by listening to the faint hissing of the rice sizzling in fat and by understanding the dum as the ring of dough dries out and releases the inner aroma,what stage of doneness.

Your chicken can suffer from many types of problems and some more details would be welcome. What chicken is being used? How much chicken, how much rice? A common problem is that cooks hesitate to turn UP the heat to generate the STRONG HEAD of steam necessary for dum. Right at the beginning, HIGH HEAT to get the DUM started: all the water down below is cooked into steam and moves into the rice. Traditionally, moist cotton rags were placed on top of the rice in a agan, to regulate the steam environment. It is difficult to recommend this practice without knowingwhat type of vessel is being used.

Without specific information about specific techniques you are using [e.g.if you are using milk +lemon finishes] it is impossible to comment on your problem. There are specific subtypes of biryanis, the cooked korma, the cooked broth + yoghurt + parcooked rice, the raw meat + parcooked rice, raw meat/raw rice, and even more variations. So details are vital.

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Thank you for writing back Gautam. What a process it involves! I have been cooking it the Kacchi way, using raw meet with the parboiled Basmati rice. The vessel I have used is a stainless steel Indian Karahi. I was using about 2 pounds of white and dark chicken meat with 2 1/2 cups of rice or so. I don't have my recipe handy. Oh, I didn't use dough around the Karahi. I used foil and put a pot filled with water on top of the Karahi lid. I will check out gourmetindia.com.

thanks.

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