How Kashmiri Chicken Biryani Caputures The Valley’s Flavours

Kashmir, referred to as the ‘Paradise on Earth’, is known for its snow-capped mountains, green meadows, rich cultural heritage, and flavourful cuisine. Food from the valley is known around the world for its unique blend of aromatic spices and indigenous techniques. Kashmiri dum aloo, yakhni pulao, haakh, rogan josh, Kashmiri dum aloo, aab gosht, and other lip-smacking delicacies are known around the country and have transcended the boundaries of continents to become popular.

Video Credit: Kashmir Tasty Treats/ YouTube

Among these popular dishes is Kashmiri chicken biryani (yes, Kashmir also has its version of biryani). The valley grows some of the best spices available in India, it was evident that its biryani variant would find mentions among popular regional biryani in India. Traditionally, Kashmiri cuisine is influenced by Central Asian, Persian, and Indian culinary past. It is difficult to trace the timeline when the paradise was introduced to the gastronomic heaven that biryani is, but it is expected that trading brought this dish to the region.

Much like any other region in India, biryani in Kashmir is also associated with festivities, weddings, and happy occasions. It is a celebratory dish that brings families and communities together. It is a part of communal feasting in which native aromatic spices are used to infuse flavours into it. 

Technique And Ingredients Used In Kashmiri Biryani

Kashmiri saffron is considered the best in the world. Kashmiri chicken biryani uses these ingredients to add a natural golden and orange hue to rice. It is first added to the milk, which is later poured on rice while layering the grains with the chicken mixture. 

Though in most variations of biryani, meat is marinated, the Kashmiri version uses a combination of yoghurt along with aromatic spices and ginger-garlic paste. This not only tenderises the meat but also makes it flavourful and keeps the chicken succulent.

While marinating and cooking the meat, people use fragrant spices like bay leaves, cloves, cardamoms, and cinnamon, which are quite common in other variations of biryani. This dish is garnished with raisins and cashews that introduce mild sweetness into the meat and rice. 

If you have ever eaten Kashmiri chicken biryani, you must have observed a red hue and mild heat in the meat, which comes from Kashmiri red chillies. It does not hit your throat like other red chillies and overpower the flavours of other spices. 

Ingredients For Kashmiri Chicken Biryani

  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 kg chicken
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • A pinch of saffron strands
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 2 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 4 chopped green chillies
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 medium-sized onions
  • 1 tablespoon cashews
  • 1 tablespoon raisins
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 500 grams of basmati rice
  • 1 mace

Method To Make Kashmiri Chicken Biryani

  • Make biryani masala by roasting black cardamom, peppercorns, cumin seeds, bay leaves, mace, cinnamon sticks, and cloves. Blend these into a smooth powder.
  • Prepare the marinade by mixing yoghurt with the biryani masala, ginger-garlic paste, chopped green chillies, and salt to taste. Gently coat the chicken with this flavourful creamy combination and refrigerate overnight.
  • Soak rice in water for 30 minutes.
  • In a medium hot pan, add ghee and fry onion slices until brown. Take them out for layering and garnishing.
  • Add cumin seeds, cloves, green cardamoms, bay leaf, and peppercorns to ghee. After roasting, add water and cook rice until 80% done.
  • While you cook rice grains, fry the marinated onion in ghee or vegetable oil until you see the skin developing a brown crispy texture. Add red chilli powder, fried onions, and some biryani masala mix on the top to make the chicken more flavourful.
  • Take another heavy-bottom pan and start layering it with chicken and basmati rice alternatively.
  • Garnish the top layer with fresh mint leaves, milk and saffron mixture, fresh coriander leaves, cashews, raisins, and fried onions. 
  • Seal the pot and let the biryani cook for 30 minutes at least. 
  • Serve it hot with raita and enjoy.