Biryani - just the mention of this popular dish is enough to make people slurp. Isn’t that true? A hot pot of flavourful rice layered with aromatic spices and herbs, one can never say no to a plateful of biryani packed with meaty goodness. It's heavenly, aromatic, and is deeply loved not just in India but around the globe. While it is believed to have been introduced to India by the Mughals, today different varieties of biryani are prepared and relished across the nation. 

Thanks to the love for rice in South India, we have an array of biryanis from the region. Some of the most popular biryanis savoured in the southern states include - Hyderabadi Biryani, Coorgi Mutton Biryani, Bhatkali Biryani and Mangalorean Fish Biryani. In fact, Hyderabad itself is said to cook up to 40 distinct versions of biryani. Then, we have the fiery Chettinad cuisine of Tamil Nadu, which exhibits not just some lip-smacking curries, but some magnificent biryanis as well. 

Chettinad cuisine is known to be one the spiciest in India. And while the preparation of the dishes there is simple, the cuisine has its uniqueness in the complexity of its flavours. The dishes are loaded with pepper along with local spices like star anise, kalpasi (stone flower), and Marathi moggu (dried flower pods). Freshly ground spices - including cumin, fenugreek, fennel, clove, bay leaf, turmeric, and tamarind - are regularly used in meats, vegetables, grains, and fermented rice. Thanks to a vast coastline, a variety of seafood items like fish, crabs, lobsters, and prawns are also favoured in the Chettinad region. 

The Chettinad biryani may not be as popular as the other varieties from South India, but it is definitely worth trying. Packed with dry roasted and ground whole spices and herbs - including poppy seeds, nutmeg, cinnamon, and star anise - along with whole dry red chillies, the Chettinad Chicken Biryani is a riot of flavours you won’t be able to resist. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients: 

  • 600 gms chicken 
  • 2 cups rice 
  • ½ cup curd 
  • 2 medium-sized onions 
  • 1 tomato 
  • 3 green chillies 
  • 1 cup mix of mint and coriander leaves 
  • 80 gms small onions 
  • 1 lemon 
  • Curry leaves

Spices 

  • ½ nutmeg 
  • ½ cinnamon stick 
  • ½ black cardamom 
  • 1 star anise 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 1 green cardamom 
  • ½ tbsp poppy seeds 
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds 
  • 2-3 cloves 
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds 
  • 7-8 whole dried red chillies 
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder
  • 7-8 garlic cloves 
  • ½ inch ginger
  • ½ tsp turmeric 
  • Salt, to taste 

Method: 

  • Wash, clean, and boil the chicken with salt. 
  • Drain the water and let the meat rest. 
  • Wash and soak the rice. 
  • Now, dry roast the whole spices in a pan.
  • Let the spices come to room temperature and then grind them with onions, turmeric and garlic cloves. Make sure it is a smooth paste. 
  • Heat a large pan and fry the onions in it until brown, and add curry leaves, garlic cloves, tomatoes, mint and coriander leaves. Cook the masala well. 
  • Once the masala leaves oil, lower the flame and add the freshly prepared masala. 
  • Cook them nicely until the mix turns red. 
  • Once done, reduce the flame and add chicken to it, cook it for some time and then add curd to the masala. Give a mix.  
  • Now, add soaked rice to the masala along with some water, and cover it. Traditionally it is covered with a banana leaf, but you can simply cover it with a lid as well. 
  • Serve hot with boiled eggs on top.

If you are wondering what all chettinad cuisine has to offer, we've got you covered.

1. Chettinad Chicken

Chicken Chettinad comes packed with tangy tomato, red chillies, onion and a whole lot of spices that are sure to get you drooling.

2. Mushroom Chettinad

Mushrooms tossed in with fiery spices lending a bold flavour with tamarind, coconut, chillies and a host of freshly ground spices, this dish is a true delight for vegetarians!

3. Chettinad Fish Fry

Soft, succulent and packed with homemade Chettinad masala, this fish fry is a perfect appetizer for a dinner party at home!