Khuska Biryani is a term that I have been introduced to only very recently. The word ‘Khusk’ is an Urdu term that is used to refer to dishes that are dry, or plain; in this case, the rice that is called Khuska. The same rice, when cooked in a meat stock, becomes Khuska Biryani. The dish is a Hyderbadi specialty cooked mostly in Muslim households. It involves plain rice that is tempered with whole spices, saffron, ghee and some birista, or fried onions is added as a garnish.
The Khuska Biryani is often served with a wet curry or a salan, either vegetarian or one made with meat, and was my main accompaniment, with the Chicken Chaap.
Khuska Biryani is most commonly known as Kuska Biryani, the annotation coined by Muslim families across Tamil Nadu, who make this rice a tad differently. The use of coconut milk is predominant, adding immense flavours to the simple rice. Tomatoes and often, ginger-garlic paste are also added to the rice. This version is suitable for the vegetarian palate, as authentic Khuska Biryani is a simple meat-flavoured plain rice, sans any meat.
This recipe was originally posted in a FB food group by a friend, and Sharmistha di’s post influenced me so much that I just had to make this. I think the reason why I made Chicken Chaap was more so because of this rice… 😀
I know it sounds like the rice in itself is nothing special, but seriously, it is such a great accompaniment with spicy or rich curries, either veg or non-veg. I personally don’t enjoy having Mutton Biryani with Chicken Chaap as I find it impossible to enjoy both together, so this is the perfect foil with the Chaap.
Khuska Biryani (recipe courtesy Sharmistha Mukherjee Cheema)
- Basmati rice – 2 cups (I have used short-grain sheddho or pre-boiled basmati)
- Ghee – 2 tbsp
- Shah jeera(black cumin) – 1/2tsp
- Cardamom – 3-4 whole
- Black cardamom – 1 whole
- Cinnamon – 2-3(1inch) sticks
- Cloves – 5-6 pcs
- Bay leaf – 1
- Black peppercorn – 6-7 whole
- Milk – 1/4 cup
- Saffron – few strands
- Kewra water – 1/4 tsp
- Salt to taste
- Fried onions – 2 to 3 tbsp
- Soak the basmati rice for 30 min.
- Wash the rice and drain it well.
- Take warm milk in a cup, add saffron strands into it, cover the cup and let stand for 15 min.
- Alternately, you can microwave the milk with saffron for 20 secs.
- Take the whole spices in a muslin cloth and make a potli (small bundle) and tie it securely.
- In a deep pot, add enough water to cook the rice. Let it come to a gently simmer, and add the bay leaves, salt and the potli.
- Then gently add the rice. (you may replace the water with chicken or meat stock, or coconut milk. You can also add stock cubes to the water, skip the salt in that case).
- Cook the until it is 80% done, and still retains a bite, as you would do with a Biryani rice.
- Strain the rice carefully, retaining 1/2 cup of the water. Discard the potli and bay leaves.
- Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and add ghee. To this add the shah jeera and star anise, sauteing for a minute.
- Add the cooked rice, and spread it evenly.
- Mix the kewra water with the saffron milk and pour it on top, reserving a tbsp for garnish at the end.
- Now top with the fried onions, also reserving some for later, and pour the reserved rice water.
- Cover the pan with an aluminum foil and a heavy lid, place it over a tawa, and cook on ‘dum’ for 10 to 15 mins or until rice is done.
- I cooked it in the handi and used some dough to seal the edges, and then microwaved it for 8 mins on high (900 W).
- Once rice is done, let it seat sealed for 3 to 4 mins, and unseal right before serving.
- Top with reserved kewra-saffron milk and fried onions and serve with Chicken Chaap.