Sofiyani biriyani is believed to have been originated in the Nizam’s kitchen. Authentic Sofiyani Biriyani also known as Safed Biriyani is white in color and owes its richness to nut paste, cream and khoya. To maintain the white color, saffron is not used and whole spices are preferred for aromatics. Red chili powder is replaced with green chilies for heat.
I came across several versions of this biriyani, some with no onion, some with fried onion, ground onion, lightly sautéed onion etc. I prefer using fried onion for this recipe and this is my version of Sofiyani biriyani. If you prefer a completely white biriyani that is mildly spiced , cook onion only till translucent and replace garam masala powder and cumin power with whole spices. Either way it would taste absolutely yummy.
Ingredients (Serves 6 – 7)
1. Basmati rice – 2.5 cups (Soaked in enough water for at least 30 minutes)
2. Kala jeera / shahi jeera / karim jeerakam – 1/2 tsp, Green cardamom – 5, Cloves – 5, Cinnamon stick – 1 inch broken, star anise – 1, bay leaf – 1
Ghee – 2 tsp
Salt – To taste
3. Chicken – 1 kg, cut into medium pieces
Yoghurt – 3/4 cup
Heavy cream – 3 tbsp
Khoya / milk solids – 2 tbsp
Cashew paste of 10 whole cashews (Soak them in hot water for 20 minutes and grind to a fine paste)
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Green chilies – 12 – 14, ground to a paste or crushed in the small jar of a blender
Onion – 1 medium-large, thinly sliced and deep-fried till golden (Remove 1/4 th of the fried onion to garnish later)
Cilantro / coriander leaves – 1/4 cup, chopped
Mint leaves – 1/4 cup, chopped
Biriyani masala / garam masala powder – 2 .5 tsp Recipe below (powdered ingredients numbered 6)
Cumin powder – 3/4 tsp
Salt – To taste
Oil – 3 tbsp
Ghee, melted – 1 tbsp
4. Hot milk – 1/4 cup
Kewra water – 1 tsp or few drops rose water
Ghee – 3 – 4 tsp
5. Mint leaves – 3 tbsp, chopped
Cilantro – 3 tbsp, chopped
Fried onion – 1/4 cup
Eggs – 3, hard-boiled
For the biriyani masala powder
6. Green cardamom – 20
Cloves – 16
Whole black pepper corns – 2 tsp
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch, broken
Stone flower (kalpasi/dagad phool) – 3/4 tsp (optional)
Nutmeg – 1/4 th of one
Mace / jathi pathri – 1/2 tsp
Kala jeera / shahi jeera – 1 tsp
Grind the above ingredients numbered 6 in the small jar of a mixie/coffee grinder and use 2 – 3 tsp in the recipe. Store the leftover masala powder in an air-tight container.
1. Combine the ingredients numbered 3 (except chicken pieces) in a large bowl. Taste-check for salt. Add chicken pieces and mix well. Cover with a lid and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Take it out of the fridge, 45 minutes before cooking.
2. Coat a heavy-bottomed pan with 2 – 3 tsp ghee. Add the marinated chicken pieces and spread them at the bottom of the vessel.
3. Add 1 tsp kewra water to 1/4 cup milk and mix well.
4. To cook rice – Soak basmati rice for 30 minutes and drain well. Boil water in a heavy-bottomed vessel/sauce pan adding all the ingredients numbered 2. Taste-check for salt, the water should be slightly salty. Add drained soaked rice and cook until 60 % done about 7 – 10 minutes depending on the type and quality of basmati rice you use. Drain well and spread on top of the chicken pieces. Sprinkle milk and kewra water, ghee, fried onions, chopped mint and cilantro on top of the rice. Cover with a layer of aluminium foil and then place a tight lid on top. Put it on high flame for 5 minutes. Now place a flat tawa on the stove and place the biriyani pot on top. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. Next reduce the flame to the lowest setting and cook for 30 minutes(rotate the biriyani pot on the tawa every 10 – 15 minutes). Switch off the flame. Let the biriyani pot remain on the tawa for about 20 minutes before opening. Yummy sofiyani chicken dum biriyani is ready to be served! Open the pot just before serving. Garnish with boiled eggs, chopped cilantro, mint and fried onion. Serve biriyani with boiled eggs, kachumber, raita or mirchi ka salan.
1. Use good quality basmati rice for biriyani.
2. Marinate chicken for at least 3 hrs or preferably overnight in the refrigerator after covering with a lid. This ensures that it absorbs all the spices well and it also makes your job much easier the next day. Next day, bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking biriyani.
3. If the chicken in the biriyani is not completely cooked/tender after 30 minutes dum + 20 minutes rest time, cover with lid immediately so that the steam wont escape and set it aside for another 15 minutes.
4. Adding salt is the only tricky part in a dum biriyani. While cooking rice, please taste-check and ensure that the water is a little salty. That way the rice will have enough salt.
5. If the cooked biriyani doesn’t have enough salt, sprinkle some salt and mix very gently without breaking the rice grains OR add a little extra salt to your raita :).
6. In most of the dum biriyani recipes, a dough made using wheat flour and water is used to seal the biriyani pot so that the steam cannot escape out of the pot. Intead of the dough, you can use a tight-fitting lid OR press an aluminium foil over the edges of your pot and place a tight-fitting lid over it.
7. Keeping the biriyani pot on the dosa tawa/flat griddle avoids the meat from getting burnt at the bottom, so make sure that you do it.
8. Use a non-stick biriyani pot or a biriyani handi for this recipe.