Prayagraj biryani, rated second-best in India after your grandmother’s is an integral component of one’s daily diet in the holy city. This traditional delicacy of India is a complex dish of wholesome delicious and flavoursome goodness.
Biryani is still prepared in the age-old method of slow cooking with almost all the ingredients procured locally. It is perhaps because of the excellent quality agricultural produce particularly the rice, spices, rich creamy curd and organically grown vegetables that really takes the taste of this biryani several notches higher than the rest prepared across the country.
The long slender-grained basmati rice is soaked for a few minutes. An assortment of spices like tejpatta (bay leaf), lavang (clove), dalchini (cinnamon), chakra phool (star anise), elaichi (cardamom), jeera seeds (cumin seeds), mace, pattar phool (stone flower) and pepper are lightly sautéed in desi ghee. Finely chopped onions are added to this along with ginger garlic paste and vegetables like beans, carrot, potato, cauliflower, capsicum and peas.
The mixture is stirred for a few minutes. A cup of fresh curd is added along with salt, red chilli powder, coriander and pudina and a secret masala. Another helping of fried onions and basmati rice is spread on top. Saffron water is poured over this along with a generous dollop of desi ghee and a little water and slow cooked on wood fire.
Normally, the biryani will have well-defined layers of rice, vegetables, coriander and mint leaves and fried onions. It is this layered system that really enhances the aroma and taste of the biryani.
Variations like aloo dum biryani, paneer tikka dum biryani, kofta biryani and others are equally delicious and made in the same way. A large portion of this scrumptious biryani is served with our eternal favourites – pyaaj, hara chutney and raita.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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