Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thalassery Chicken Biriyani

I wanted to post a very special recipe as its Eid al-Fitr and Fathers Day this weekend. Biriyani being one of the most popular dishes in my State and believed to be brought in by the Arab traders to Malabar (North Kerala) there's no better dish that I can think of making, to part take in this celebration.

Also, because Biriyani was my Dad's favorite dish,
I think about my Achachan (Dad) everyday, regret for not spending time with him when he was alive. When I was my daughters age I thought my Dad is a Super man and he was the ultimate solution to all my problems then, but I failed to realize that my Super Man is growing old, though he never was very old,he decided to quit his life when he was 69 years old. Glad that I could be with him when he was really sick and was about to leave us. I saw my Super Man slowly loosing his power, his strength fading, and at last he stopped thinking about all the things in the world he was concerned till then and I saw how the fear of death conquered my Super Man. Period.

But how I wish if he was alive and see his Grand kids grow and also be my support in life especially instances like these when I break down emotionally.
Wishing all proud Dad's a very happy Father's Day !

Pre preparation

Biriyani  is easy to prepare if you have everything ready before starting to cook, it saves you lot of time, keep the following things ready before starting to cook and it will make your life so much better on this day...
Make Biriyani Masala , keep in an air tight container (you may grind and store this powder in an air tight container)
Have your ground mixture ready  (Ginger,garlic and chili) , slice/chop all other ingredients and keep aside (tomatoes, shredded cilanto , mint etc)
Soak and grind cashews with little water, though this is optional I felt this makes biriyani gravy thick in consistency ( especially  in this special biriyani because we don't add thick curd or thick coconut milk )
Soak Saffron with cream or whole milk, keep aside. Fry onion, cashews , kishmish/dried grapes etc and shredded leaves ready for layering.
Last but not the least (May be the most important part in Thalaserry Biriyani) is to keep Bista or fried onion ready for the gravy.

All set to make this special Biriyani ?? here's how I made it.


Biriyani Masala Powder - grind the following ingredients together,
keep in air tight container
1 tsp Shahi Jeera
1/2 tsp Cumin
1-1/2 tsp  Fennel Seeds
4 Cardamom
1 Star Anise
4 -6 cloves
2 inch size Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg

For Cooking Rice 

Jeerakashala Rice/ I used Kalijeera Rice - 2-1/2 cups
Water - 5 cups
Lime Juice-  from 1 lime
Bay leaves - 2 no's , Pepper corns - 1 tsp, 1 small pieces Cinnamon, 3-5 Cardamom & 3 Cloves
Cilantro/ Malli leaves - 1/2 cup shredded.
Ghee - 1 tsp
Gravy from the cooked Chicken Masala - 1/2 cup (Optional)
Salt to taste

For Chicken Gravy 
Chicken - 1 whole (Cut to medium Pieces)
Onion - for Bista (as they call it, basically fried Onion) - 2 medium size thinly sliced
Turmeric Powder - 2 tsp
Pepper Powder - 1 tsp
Green Chilies - 7-14 no's (Depending on your preference)
Ginger - 1 medium size piece
Garlic - 2 whole heads
Cilantro/Malli Leaves/Coriander leaves - 2 cups shredded
Mint Leaves / Pudina - 1/2 cup Shredded
Tomatoes - 4 no's chopped
Lime juice - juice from 2 lime's
Vegetable Oil or Dalda/Vanaspathi - 2 tbsp & Ghee/Clarified Butter - 1 tbsp (NOT including oil for frying Onion (Bista)  )
Biriyani Masala Powder - 2 -3 tsp ( Ingredients given above)
Cashews - 1/4 cup -soak in water for 1/2 an hour and grind. keep aside.
Salt to taste

For Assembling Biriyani before Dum/Baking 
Onion fried - 2 small no's (thinly sliced) fried
Cashew nuts & Kishmish/Dried Grapes - 1/4 cup together
Biriyani Masala - to sprinkle
Saffron - a pinch & Cream or Milk - 2 tbsp (to soak Saffron)
Cilantro/Malli Leaves/Coriander Leaves - 3/4 cup Shredded
Ghee - few drops (Optional)


  • Grind together ginger, garlic, green chili's to a coarse mixture(do not over grind) keep aside.
  • Make Bista/ fry onion for the gravy, with 2 medium onions fry in enough oil until onion looks golden brown in color, keep aside.

  • Take out excess oil (just need 2 tbsp oil) and add 1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter, let heat for few seconds, add the ground mixture(Ginger,Garlic & Green chilies), saute for few minutes ( 5-7 minutes in medium heat), add chopped tomatoes and continue sauteing until everything looks cooked.

  • Add the chicken pieces, combine, add mint leaves, Malli/Cilantro leaves, salt, turmeric powder, lime juice and 3/4 of the Biriyani Masala powder (freshly ground). Add little water ( 3/4 cup to 1 cup ) , combine and close the lid.Cook this for another 15 minutes in low heat until chicken is almost cooked. Stir occasionally while cooking.
  • After Chicken is cooked add the bista/fried onion stir then add ground Cashew stir again to combine , cook for another 2 minutes and switch off the heat.

Cook Rice 

Wash and drain rice, keep aside.
Heat approximately 5 cups water , add all the whole spices , rice, ghee/clarified butter, salt, Cilantro/Malli Leaves and salt, cook rice in medium to low heat, may add 1/2 cup of the prepared chicken gravy (optional) , cook rice until all of the water in it is dried.Cover and keep for 10-15 minutes. (May cook rice initially before preparing gravy (then you need not have to add the gravy to the rice while cooking)

Final-  Layering the Biryani for baking/Dum  

Soak Saffron in enough Cream/Milk , keep for at least 5 minutes.

I am baking the Biriyani here instead of dum/covering and cooking, transfer the chicken pieces with little gravy on a flat baking dish/foil tray.

Spread 1/2 portion of the rice evenly over the chicken pieces, sprinkle Biriyani Masala powder, little bit of the gravy , fried onion , malli leaves & fried cashews and kishmish.

Pour the Saffron -milk mixture evenly over the layered rice.  Layer again the left over rice over the top, cover with the rest of the fried onion, Malli/Cilanto leaves, fried cashew and raisins/ dried grapes.Cover with an aluminium foil and bake in 350 F for 30 minutes to an hour.

And let your Biriyani bake away to glory !

I referred many recipes to make this Biriyani also made few variations to make it my own.The youtube video below gives a better idea about Thalassery Biriyani.

Thanks to all my friends here in Utah who are from near and around Malabar for the tips and tricks to make this special Biriyani, were truly inspiring.

Wishing you all a fun filled and happy celebration this weekend.

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