A huge pot of steaming biryani arriving onto the dinner table is a sure sign that you’re going to be for a treat. Richly flavoured and full of surprising textures, biryani is synonymous with splendid food and popular all throughout India. I’ve made so many versions of biryani – classic vegetable biryani, paneer biryani, mushroom biryani (watch this space!) – but this one really stood out. It’s high in protein, aromatic, and pairs beautifully with naan, raita, papad, or korma.
I took a hiatus from sharing my cooking over the beginning of this year. This was the dish that prompted me to rediscover my love of cooking and sharing that joy.
If you’re short on time you can make biryani quickly by cooking the rice, vegetables and spices in a one-pot method.
However, I absolutely love to create a biryani the traditional way – cooking all separately and then layering in flavours and textures, sealing it up, and letting everything slowly infuse. This is the method that gives the name “dum biryani”; to steam, to breathe – all meaning it becomes a real magnificent labour of love. I can’t describe to you how good it smells once the lid comes off!
This biryani is based on the Hyderabadi variety – some say that Hyderabad is the city of biryani because they make it so well. Renowned for the spicy taste and exotic flavour, with this recipe I have combined creamy nuttiness of cashew and almond with fiery heat; subtle floral notes of kewra and saffron; rich savoury layers of onion and the distinct taste of ground garam masala. To balance the dish and cool the heat of the chilli we serve it with a cooling cucumber raita on the side, subtly flavoured with cumin. You can also make a dahi chutney of mint and onions.
A few small notes – first, don’t be intimated by the list of ingredients and the instructions. The most important things in cooking the biryani is the cooking of the rice – you want fluffy, separated grains, definitely not overcooked. Also, it’s really important that you judge the thickness of the masala well, as it has to have the right amount of liquid to result in a moist biryani.
Egg Dum Biryani with Raita
- 450g Basmati rice
- Ghee/Butter and Oil, for cooking
- ½ tbsp Kewra Water
- 2 tsp Salt
- 4 tbsp Milk
- Saffron, a pinch
- 1 Onion
- 1 Large Green Chilli, sliced
- 5 Garlic cloves, crushed
- 3″ Ginger, chopped
- 5 Cherry tomatos, chopped
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- ½ tsp Red Chilli powder
- 1 tbsp Cashew Butter
- 2 tbsp Double Cream
- 4 tbsp Yoghurt
- 3 Eggs
- ¼ Sliced Onion
- 10 Almonds, sliced
- 10 Cashews, sliced
- Sprigs of Mint
- Coriander, chopped
- 250ml Greek Yoghurt or Natural Yoghurt
- ½ English Cucumber, grated
- Pinch of Cumin Powder
- Salt to taste
- Coriander and Mint leaves to garnish
- Pre-soak basmati rice for 30 mins if possible. If short on time, skip this step.
- First, begin by hard boiling the eggs. Pour water into a saucepan and when boiling, gently put the eggs into the water. Boil them for 6-7 minutes and then put the eggs straight into a bowl of cold water.
- When the eggs have cooled enough to touch, gently crack the shell against a surface and then roll them along your work surface to further create cracks. You can then peel the shell from the eggs and rinse them in water.
- Prick the eggs randomly over with toothpick, and set a frying pan aside with oil. When the oil is hot, begin frying the whole eggs until golden brown. When done, remove the eggs and use the same pan for cooking the masala paste.
- To start making the masala, first dice a whole onion. In the small frying pan, add more oil a fry the onions on medium-low heat until translucent. Now add crushed and sliced garlic, sliced ginger, and sliced green chilli, cooking until fried well.
- Chop the tomatoes into half and add with the coriander, turmeric, garam masala, and chilli powder (to your taste). Stir the spices well into the mix and cook for a little longer.
- Now add the cashew butter, yoghurt and cream, stirring it well into the mixture. Cook until the oil separates from and the masala thickens. Add water as required, cook longer, and add more water. When it’s a good thickness, add the fried eggs and coat them well in the mixture.
- Separately, cook the sliced onion until it’s caramelised and browned. Keep aside till biryani assembly.
- Now in a large saucepan add ghee/butter and soaked rice. Add water to cover the rice well and turn the heat onto high. Add the kewra water and salt to the rice at this stage also. Stir the rice to prevent sticking and cook until 90% done – check hardness to determine.
- Soak saffron in milk to diffuse it’s flavour.
- Pre-heat the oven on low.
- In a heavy oven-proof pot, layer one third of the rice and then ½ the egg masala mixture, topped with one third of crispy onions and chopped coriander. Now the second third of rice and remaining egg masala, again topped with onions. Finish with the last of the rice and onions. Top the biryani with cashews, almonds, mint, coriander, and saffron milk.
- Cover the biryani with a lid or tinfoil. Traditionally, you would make a dough and seal the edge of the pan before adding a lid – this is the method known as “dum”. If you want, you can do this with simple flour and water, as it’s not for eating.
- Cook the biryani in the oven on low heat for about 15 minutes, and then serve with raita.
To make raita:
- Add yoghurt to a bowl.
- Grate cucumber into the yoghurt.
- Add cumin powder and salt, stir the mix together and serve with coriander and/or mint leaves.