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Fenugreek and chicken biryani from Hyderabad

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Hyderabad has a wonderful and very diverse culinary heritage. It is essentially a beautiful mix of Awadhi, Rayalseema and Marathwada cuisines, each distinct. It was recently awarded "Creative city of gastronomy" by UNESCO. However, popularism of specific dishes, like the dum ka biryani, and haleem, is also creating a loss of cultural diversity of dishes in the region. Historically, Hyderabadi cuisine had about 30 varieties of biryanis, 40-50 types of kebabs and a variety of dals that have been distilled down to the few that have gained popularity with the rest being forgotten.

This is one of those special recipes that you almost cannot find. The recipe originates on the Telangana side and is a recipe that is quite special. The aromatic fenugreek "korma" is beautifully spiced with the traditional pop of spice. The "korma" is layered between rice, in true biryani style, and slow cooked to allow the flavors to permeate the rice grains. I served this biryani with a side of Green apple and mint raita, but you can also pair it with Spicy Pineapple Yogurt. The sweet from the raita helps cleanse your palate and compliments the biryani beautifully.

This is a specialized cookbook brings to my library, and dining table, a variety of flavors, styles and diverse set of dishes. The book also is wonderful at detailing the process of cooking a true biryani, versus the pulao and kichiri. I do enjoy this book for the diversity of flavors, from the super spicy South Indian biryanis, to the regal Lucknowi and Hyderabadi biryanis to the mild and delicate North Indian biryanis..This is one of those cookbooks that anyone interested in the art of biryani should own. You will definitely see me cook from here again.

For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the rice:

3 cups basmati rice

1 teaspoon caraway seeds (shah jeera)

1 bay leaf

Juice of 1/2 lime


Salt, to taste

For the curry:

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon garlic paste

1 tablespoon ginger paste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

Salt, to taste

2 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste

2 tomatoes, or 2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2 lb chicken, boneless breast or thigh, diced

1 +3 + 1 cups loaded fenugreek leaves, stemmed and well washed, + some buds for garnish

4 cups water

1/2 cup milk

2-3 teaspoons butter or ghee

A sprinkling of garam masala

Hard-boiled eggs, sliced longitudinally

Make the rice in either a rice cooker or on the stove with the caraway seeds, bay leaf, lime juice and salt. Fluff when ready. Set aside till needed.

Meanwhile make the korma. Heat the oil in a pot and add the onions. sauté on medium heat till the onions are a light golden. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for 45 seconds till the garlic and ginger smell aromatic.

Add the first cup of fenugreek leaves and cook for 1 minute till the leaves are wilted and integrated. Add the turmeric, chili powder, garam masala and salt and cook for 20 seconds till the spices are aromatic. Toss the ingredients well with a spatula to prevent the spices from sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.

Add the tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and mix in well searing the chicken well. Cook till the chicken no longer looks raw and is well coated with the spice mix, about 5 minutes. Take care not to burn the spice mix, turn down the heat if needed.

Add the water and the 3 cups of fenugreek leaves. Mix in well and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste the curry and adjust for salt and chili. Cook the sauce down till it clings heavily to the chicken and is about 1 cup in volume.

To assemble the biryani, add half of the rice to an oven-safe pot or pyrex dish. Layer all the chicken and sauce on top of the rice. Add the last cup of fresh fenugreek leaves over the chicken. Add the rest of rice on top and pat down the layers gently. Drizzle with the milk and dab with the butter and sprinkle a dusting of the the garam masala on top. Seal well with foil and/or a tight-fitting lid. The assembled dish can be left for a few hours in the fridge.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

To serve, heat the assembled biryani (from room temperature) for 35-40 minutes till the center of the biryani is steaming hot. Open at the table so the guests get the aromas that first escape. Garnish with the fresh fenugreek sprigs and egg. Serve with the Green apple and mint raita, but you can also pair it with Spicy Pineapple Yogurt.

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