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I have tried to make Biryani several (3, lol) times using this recipe but never got it right. The meat gets too dry, and the masala and rice often get burned. How can I avoid this?

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While recipe requests are indeed off-topic (thanks for noticing!), asking how to fix specific problems with a specific recipe is a great question. –  Jefromi May 2 '13 at 15:32
    
Have you tried just using chicken thighs, not drumsticks? Thighs are remarkably forgiving, you almost can't overcook them, they stay moist and juicy after other pieces have turned to leather. –  Jolenealaska Jul 30 at 22:24

6 Answers 6

up vote 3 down vote accepted
  • Most people get burned biryani because of the rice. It must be soaked and the par cooked before going into the pot. Also the quality of the rice is important. IMO that would always be Basmati rice. I always soak my rice for an hour for any dish.

  • The cooking vessel has to be heavy and sealed. This ensures that the cooking happens in an almost pressure cooker state inside the pot. Some people seal their pot lid with a flour dough. Cast iron pots are the best.

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The meat gets too dry, and the masala and rice often get burned. How can I avoid this?

If you have failed many times, then my first suggestion would be to use a nonstick vessel to cook Biryani. Good quality nonstick vessels are quite forgiving in case you forget to check whether the meal is done in time.

Second, since you seem to be a beginner, my advise would be to cook your food ONLY on the lowest flame of the gas. This will ensure the food gets cooked properly before it starts burning.

If the meat seems too dry then as Jay says:

burning and overcooking chicken is related but not the same. Overcooking in this case will be cooking the meat to a internal temperature above the recommended tender temperature. While burning means to char the chicken. You can burn the chicken and still have uncooked chicken on the inside. Likewise as in the OP's case, you can overcook chicken but not necessarily burn it.

and,

harsh as it may seem, but if the food is getting burnt repeatedly then IMO you are not paying enough attention.
By now, have you tried to cook the Biryani according to the exact time given by the recipe? If yes, then reduce that time by 10 minutes and cook on a very low flame. After the 'new' timeout lift the lid and check whether it is done. Yes, you will have to lift the lid at least twice for the first time to get an actual idea of much time really is required. Use a real clock/timers.

Thirdly, use a heat resistant glass lid or even better flame proof glass vessel instead of the metal one for cooking the Biryani while it is on gas. That will allow you to peek in and check the condition of the food without repeatedly without picking up the lid.

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Meat also seems dry when it's overcooked, and extra liquid won't save it at that point. –  Jefromi May 3 '13 at 5:13
    
@Jefromi Okay, didn't know that. But will it not burn before being overcooked? –  TheIndependentAquarius May 3 '13 at 5:26
3  
@AnishaKaul burning and overcooking chicken is related but not the same. Overcooking in this case will be cooking the meat to a internal temperature above the recommended tender temperature. While burning means to char the chicken. You can burn the chicken and still have uncooked chicken on the inside. Likewise as in the OP's case, you can overcook chicken but not necessarily burn it. –  Jay May 3 '13 at 5:47
    
@Jay thanks for info. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 3 '13 at 6:00
    
@AnishaKaul I appreciate your help, but I can't really keep checking Biryani? It's sealed with maida(dough). I could add more oil, maybe? –  Ishaan Singh May 3 '13 at 10:57

There are few things you could do

  • Throughly grease(with Ghee or Butter) the vessel you are using for Dum. Use a thick bottomed vessel if you can. This prevents burning.

  • While cooking your chicken, make sure that you leave enough gravy and don't dry it out completely. That gravy could make your Biriyani moist. (Take care that you don't leave too much to make it soggy)

  • You could have a layer of rice at bottom instead of the chicken (as your recipe says). So bottom chicken layer doesn't dry out.

  • Par Boil your rice, cause it is also cooks in Dum with the chicken.

  • Pour some milk after layering the Biriyani and let it seep through. (Add Saffron to the Milk for color/smell).

  • And last but not least, make sure that lid is tightly sealed with dough or foil so the steam doesn't escape and use a low flame.

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For your point 3, the recipe says explicitly make sure that top layer is rice and bottom layer is chicken. –  TheIndependentAquarius May 3 '13 at 4:40

Best would be to use the thick bottom vessel if you don't have something like that use a Tawa below the vessel to make it's base thick also cook the biryani at a very low flame for more time than usual meat won't be dry and no burning

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I partly agree with user22887, rice should be soaked to a specific time, and should be parboiled. ALSO traditionally biriyani is NOT cooked at direct heat.

Ever heard of Charcoal cooked biriyani? Its called "Dum" cooking (Dum Biriyani). After the charcoal gets hot the biriyani vessel is placed over and also they throw in hot coal over the lid. The process takes time as its slow cooked with heat with Copper vessels. See this video

At home, to prevent direct heat, the vessel should have a heavy bottom or should be placed over a pan, like this.

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I would recommend to always marinate the meat with spices and yoghurt for at least 6 - 8 hrs or overnight in in the fridge. This makes the meat tender and juicy plus to avoid burning never put your biryani directly on the flame. What you can do is put a tawa on the stove then sealed biryani pot on it which will surely help. Usually biryani takes 45 – 50 mins max so ensure you’re not keeping them on too long.

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