A little about how we stumbled upon this masterpiece called ” Donne Biryani “:
Before we start the Donne Biryani recipe – let us talk a little bit about its history. We (Shwetha and myself) were exposed to Nati style food (food cooked in traditional village style) largely during our graduation days at Bengaluru & Hassan. It is told that during the early 90’s a different class of hotels started flourishing in various areas of Karanataka/Tamil Nadu which specialized mainly in nati style spicy meat preparations. Although I have read umpteen number of articles but neither of them have reached to a satisfactory conclusion on how the word “Military Hotel” was coined. A few of them say that concept has its origins from the kitchens of Shahaji Bhonsle, and his successor Shivaji’s meat-eating armies where as a few point out British colonization period where in people came out of this concept of providing protein rich meals to the military folks etc. Anyway, let us not dig too deep into the etymology. Since we have shifted to Pune we have been missing this cuisine to a great extent and whenever we go to Bengaluru/Hassan we do make point to visit these legendary eateries to hog on some really spicy & tasty military style food.
About Donne Biryani:
There are different variations of biryani all across our country starting from the legendary “Hyderabadi Dum Biryani” which emphasizes on cooking marinated meat and rice with rich masalas, under dum in separate layers to the versions of biryani available in Tamil Nadu wherein rice is mixed with meat and then cooked together to get the meaty flavors embedded into the rice.
“Donne Biryani” is a type of biryani wherein the flavor profile is majorly controlled with whole spices & three simple ingredients which are Coriander, Mint & Fenugreek leaves. The rice & the meat are cooked together in this version of biryani & often this biryani is served in a “Donne” made with palm leaves (refer to the image below).
Prashant hotel in Gandhi Bazaar, Bengaluru was the first place where I had this legendary Donne Biryani & I was simply blown away with the rustic yet tantalizing flavors that this biryani offered with every single bite. On the other hand, Shwetha has had her share of Donne Biryani across various outlets in Bengaluru. The common accompaniment for this biryani is Mosaru Bajji (Raitha) made with diluting curd with onions, tomatoes & coriander. Unlike Raitha this is a very diluted version & serves the purpose of cooling the heat off by a little margin very well. This is typically not served with any gravy/salan but often hotels serve a shot glass of rasam to have with this, that aids digestion a lot! In this particular post I have shared a super simple recipe inspired by one of the YouTube video’s that we saw – https://youtu.be/-5KJhZzOhtY . We have made a couple of changes but be assured this is a tried and tested recipe and we recommend you to stick to it as much as possible.
Ingredients Required :
The quantity I have listed for is more than sufficient for 3 people with decent appetite 🙂
- Chicken – Follow this instruction to get the most tender cut. Ask for 1200 gms live chicken to be cold dressed and cut into small sized pieces.
- Rice – 2 glasses full (medium sized). If you can get your hands on seeraga samba then it is the best otherwise you can use regular sona masuri /HMT Kolam but DO NOT use basmati rice.
- Mint Leaves – 1 fist full (1 medium sized cup)
- Coriander leaves – 1/2 fist full (1/2 medium sized cup)
- Fenugreek leaves – 1/2 fist full (1/2 medium sized cup)
- Curd – 1/2 cup
- Onion – 3 nos (1 medium sized roughly chopped for the masala , 2 medium sized finely sliced)
- Green Chilly – 7-8 spicy one’s.
- Ginger – 1.5 inch piece
- Garlic – 12 to 14 cloves
- Lazeez Biryani Masala – 1 small packet
- Lime -1/2 nos
- Cloves – 5 nos
- Cardmom – 4 nos
- Cinamon – 2 inch stick
- Bay Leaf – 1 big leaf
- Oil – Sunflower/Vegetable – 1/2 cup
- Salt – as per taste
Steps To Deliciousness:
Wash and clean the chicken thoroughly. Add half cup curd, biryani masala & 1 tbsp of salt. Marinate this for 1 hour in room temperature.
Make fresh ginger garlic paste by grinding the ginger & garlic (with skin on) into a fine paste.
Take a pan and put 1 tbsp of Oil & sauté the roughly chopped onions, mint leaves, fenugreek leaves, green chilly & coriander for less than a minute on high flame until the leaves shrink. Cool the mixture until it reaches room temperature, add salt to mixture as required & grind it into a fine paste. Your green masala for the Biryani is now ready!
As the marination time clocks to 30 minutes, its an indication for you to wash the rice to get rid of that extra starch & soak your rice in a bowl for 30 minutes. So ideally both your chicken marination and soaking of rice gets done at the very same time.
Take a thick flat bottom vessel preferably more than 6-7 liters. Add half a cup of oil & fry the whole spices (4 cloves, 4 cardamom, 2 inch stick of cinnamon & 1 bay leaf) in low/medium flame for a few minutes till you can smell the aroma of spices in the air 🙂
Add the sliced onions & the freshly made ginger garlic paste. Fry till the onion is almost on the verge of browning and the raw smell of ginger garlic paste disappears.
Add the ground green masala paste & fry till oil separates. Usually this will take around 5-7 minutes.
Add the marinated chicken & roast for 10 minutes on medium/high flame. At this point, it is mandatory to keep stirring. Ideally for first 5-8 minutes sear the meat on the high flame & then use medium high heat to roast the meat. This is done to ensure that the meat is cooked at least 50% with all its juices, since we would be using very low heat at later stages of cooking to avoid rice being over cooked.
Add the soaked rice with almost 3.5 cups of water (assuming you have used ½ a cup while grinding the green masala), required amount of salt & bring the mixture to a boil. Meanwhile keep a thick bottom tawa on high heat on which you will further slow cook this biryani. The key to ensure that the salt content is right is to taste the water after first boil, if it seems adequately salty to your taste then you need not worry about adding extra salt. Always ensure to add salt in small amounts if you are not experienced in cooking, because it is easy to handle a low salt content in a dish but when the scenario reverses then it is very difficult to minimize the damages. Once you are done working with the salt and the boiling process, squeeze in half a lime and give one final stir.
Once the boiling has reached a state where the water level has reduced and you can start seeing grains of rice, shift the vessel on to the preheated tawa. Put a firm lid on top to ensure no steam leaks out & add in some extra weight on the top to ensure that the lid is sealed tight with a dum. Now turn the heat to the lowest setting & let it cook for around 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, take the vessel off the heat. Open half the lid & let that extra bit of moisture evaporate. If you follow the exact steps mentioned above you would end up with one of the most fluffy spicy biryani rice with tender juicy chunks of chicken. Do not mix the rice when it is too hot, you would end up mashing the grains rather wait for at least 10 – 15 minutes and let the extra moisture fade away & then you can use your rice spatula or a fork to fluff it up!
For Raitha, just beat 1/2 cup curd with 1 small glass of water. Add chopped onions, tomato, coriander & salt to taste. Mix it well & serve it the biryani.
Another delicacy that takes this biryani experience to next level is the “Deep Fried Chicken Kebabs”. We would add a recipe for that in a separate post. It is super easy to make & you get the same taste as that of the kebabs served in those Military Hotels.
Do try this recipe as it is very easy to make & trust us this would be one of the best biryani’s you would have ever had.
Do let me know in comments how this works out for you & in case you have any doubts please feel free to drop a note here and we would get back to you asap.
P.S This Donne Biryani recipe was made by my wife Shwetha so all the credits goes to her 🙂