Who said I have to wait until Mother's Day to treat my mum? This version of Danpauk (Burmese Chicken Biryani) is crafted and tailored for my mum's perfect pot of Danpauk.
I used some ingredients from Persian (Iranian) cuisine: rob-e anar (pomegranate molasses), ab-ghooreh (verjuice/sour grape juice), and Bandari Seven-Spice Advieh during the overnight marination procedure. Notes and commentary are provided for optional usage and viable substitutes.
• Rob-e Anar (Pomegranate Molasses): adds and provides a balanced sweet and tarty elevative flavors to the chicken. Rob-e anar is optional.
• Ab-Ghooreh (Verjuice/Sour Grape Juice): an acidulant to aid in the chicken marination process. A stronger acidulant, e.g. lemon/lime juice is the viable substitute.
Ingredients for Overnight Marination
• 2.022kg chicken breast
• 2 tbsp. Bandari seven-spice advieh (if omitting, double the garam masala)
• 2 tbsp. garam masala
• 2 tbsp. ginger-garlic paste
• 1½ tbsp. red chili powder
• 4 shallots, thinly sliced
• 1 tbsp. rob-e anar (pomegranate molasses) [optional]
• 3 tbsp. ab-ghooreh (verjuice / sour grape juice) [substitute lemon juice]
• 1½ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. MSG
• ¼ tsp. turmeric
• 1 c. whole plain yogurt
• 1 c. onion-infused oil
Ingredients for Rice (Parboil for 7 Minutes)
• 4 tbsp. salt
• ⅓ c. vegetable oil
• 15 c. (~4.3L) water
• 1.224kg (6 c.) Basmati rice
Ingredients for Layering and Garnishing
• 225g (1½ c.) golden raisins
• 140g (1 c.) salted cashews
• 237g (1½ c.) green peas (if using frozen, soak in warm water and drained)
• 230g (1½ c.) baby carrots, chopped, and blanched
• 130g (2 c.) golden brown onions
• ½ tsp. MSG
• 1 tbsp. Hyderabadi garam masala (or garam masala)
• 1 tsp. saffron with ¼ tsp. sugar in 3 tbsp. hot water
• ⅓ c. Desi ghee
• ⅔ c. evaporated milk
• 2 tsp. rose water
• 2 tsp. orange blossom water
Day 1 (To Be Completed By End of Day)
1. If using frozen chicken breasts, defrost/thaw on a thermal tray.
2. When completely thawed, cut chicken breasts into larger and thicker pieces. They will be more juicier and less likely to get burnt via dehydration.
3. Prepare salt water bath for brining. The recommended is 30g salt per 1kg meat in 1L water. Submerged the chicken in the salt water bath and store in fridge for 4—5 hours, maximum. Over brining will lead to salty chicken.
4. Once brined, drain the salt water bath. There is no need to pat dry the chicken.
5. Start and prepare the ingredients for marination overnight.
6. Prepare the remainder of mise en place. Gather ingredients for layering and garnishing. Cover with plastic or foil.
7. Mix into the golden brown onions: 1 tbsp. Hyderabadi garam masala and ½ tsp. MSG. Gently mix well and set aside for use in Layering and Garnishing on Day 2. Cover tightly with foil or plastic wrap. You can also prepare this on Day 2. However, the more you prepare on Day 1, the lesser things you'll have on Day 2.
1. Wash your Basmati rice about 5 times, until the water is clearer. It's impossible for water to be crystal clear. Soak for at least an hour. Then, drain your rice.
2. Boil water. Add salt. This water should taste like sea water. Add oil. This will help prevent the rice grains from sticking together.
3. Allow the water to boil vigorously. Pour the drained rice and start your timer for 7 minutes.
4. Stir gently once to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of pot. After this, don't stir anymore, else the rice grains will break.
5. At around 7 minutes, check and make sure the "rice are dancing" in the boiling water. This means that the almost cooked rice are floating to the top.
6. Bite a few and they should still be hard and not completely soft (fully cooked).
7. Switch off the heat and get ready for layering and garnishing.
Layering and Garnishing
1. Into your 6.5L capacity dutch oven, biryani handi, or any thick-bottomed vessel, layer the overnight marinated chicken. Try to make sure that the chicken are single layer and almost all are touching the bottom of pan. It's OK, if you have to place chicken on top of each other.
2. Grab a handful of raisins and layer them on top of the chicken. If you don't want sweetness from the raisins to impart to the chicken, skip this step and start from (3).
3. Take the rice and place several spatputa-fuls immediately on top of the chicken. Followed by handfuls of golden brown onions, raisins, and cashew nuts. To this first layer, evenly distribute 2 tbsp. ghee.
4. Repeat for the second layer. Add green peas and chopped, blanched baby carrots. Drizzle the remaining 2 tbsp. ghee onto the second layer.
5. Once done with the second layering, add rose water and orange blossom water evenly distributing over this layer. Sprinkle the saffron dissolved (bloomed) into water with sugar.
6. Add ⅔ c. evaporated milk to be sprinkled over the the rice, just prior to sealing with foil. This will make sure there is sufficient moisture for steam to generate.
7. Cover with foil and close the lid. Safely place another cooking vessel upside down on top of the lid to act as weight.
Dum Pukht Process (Cooking on Dum)
1. Place the pot on high heat for 5-7 minutes. Start your timer. I use my Google Assistant to invoke the "set timer" voice command. This initial high heat will generate steam and will slightly char/brown the chicken that are touching the pan.
2. Next, set your timer for 10 minutes and lower the heat to medium.
3. Then, place the tawa, circular griddle, or skillet underneath your cooking vessel. Lower heat to the lowest setting. Set timer for 20—25 minutes.
4. Finally, do not open! I repeat, do not open! Remove your pot from the heat and set it aside somewhere. Allow to rest for 15 minutes.