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4 Keys to Making Incredible Biryani

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Good biryani is everywhere, but great biryani can be very tough to come by. Most chefs don't realize that there are a couple simple keys to creating incredible biryani.
Here is what you need to know:

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1) Layering - Great biryani should always be layered. Too many people create their biryani in one pot. Unfortunately, by doing this, you inhibit the proper contrast of flavors that allows biryani to really shine. When cooking biryani you should always cook the rice separately from the masala and then combine these ingredients in layers toward the end of the cooking process. By layering your biryani with white rice & masala you make sure that every bite gives you various flavors and textures that can be intense, mellow, surprising, and always unique.

2) Removing and Distributing the Oil - Once the masala and meat are cooked there's typically a large amount of oil remaining that rises to the top of the pot. This oil has been imparted with some very rich flavors as it has usually been simmering for upwards of an hour with a range of spices (e.g., cardamom, cinnamon, clove). The oil however should be removed from the masala for two reasons: a) if it's not removed the meat can taste too oily when served, and b) by removing the oil and re-distributing it on top of the rice you're instilling the rice with the rich flavor of the oil and allowing the flavor of the masala to really penetrate the entire dish.

3) Proper Use of the Bones - Unfortunately, all too often the meat bones from the lamb are not used properly to flavor the biryani. First, if you're not cooking with the bones, you have to start. Bones can be used to impart deep flavor from the meat into the entire dish. The bones should always be used to flavor the masala. They should be cooked in the oil where they will release their flavor into the oil and then they should be removed. If the bones are kept in the oil too long they will soak up too much of the masala and spice flavors which should be imparted onto the meat.

photo credit: spicesandaroma.in
4) Rounding out the Flavor - Most biryani contains core ingredients like garlic, ginger, onion, chili powder, but many forget to balance these flavors in the end with something to offset their spice. A combination of yogurt, coconut, and herbs need to be added to the masala toward the end of its cooking in order to balance the spicy flavors. These ingredients will make sure that the spice from the biryani is not too hot or harsh. If added too early however these ingredients can over cook, so they must be added toward the end of the preparation just as the masala is coming together.

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