Biryani is perhaps the best complete meal in the world that is the contribution of Mughals to India. It has rice and curry combined with exotic spices, fruits and nuts to give a heavenly feeling for the eater as each bite dances on the taste buds and releases different aromas one after the other! One can feel the satisfaction of fine dining after consuming a sumptuous portion of Biryani. Now a days,parties and feasts are mostly incomplete without Biryani on the menu. At least, Biryani is my personal favourite!I first tasted Chicken Biryani at Hotel Woodside Mangalore in the year 1973. We were on a Bekal trip arranged by our college and at Pallikere, our lecturers were eating biryani for lunch in a restaurant and we were eating vegetarian meals! The aroma of biryani made us few friends make a straight dash to Hotel Woodside after returning to Mangalore and order biryani. Needless to say that it was finger licking good! Then I had a chance to visit Madras(Now Chennai) in 1977 along with my sister in law for her visa. We went to Buhari's for lunch as per advice by some of the elders who authenticated the food there. I tasted Chicken Dum Biryani for the first time there. I found something unique about it but I was not good at cooking those days, except for making chapathis and tea! Besides, we didn't eat meat at home when I was a bachelor. I mostly went to restaurants with friends to taste chicken or mutton.In Bangalore in the Eighties, I've tried some of the best biryanis at Taj, Ghousia and Renowned City Restaurant around City Market, RR and Annapurna in Gandhinagar and Imperial on Residency Road. They made Mysore Kerala or Andhra style biryani, cooking the masala with the rice. In Mysore, Biryani Paradise on New Sayyaji Rao Road made good biryani. Shilton Hotel on St Mark's Road was also a favourite hang out for pulao, biryani and paya curry. Some years ago, biryani at Bombay Lucky Restaurant in Bunder, Biryani Paradise in Kankanady and Royal Durbar in Bendore were good. Mangala and Rajkamal also served very good biryani. Hot Plate in Lalbagh Mangalore has fantastic Kerala Dum Biryani. At Muslim weddings, I've relished some of the finest dum biryanis. After getting married, we started making most of the Mughalai and Punjabi delicacies at home following recipes from Femina magazine and later Khana Khazana and others' cookery shows. Meena is adept at making many kinds of biryanis and she cooks the rice perfectly, whichever style she follows. Hence biryani making is her specialty and I am a silent spectator most of the times when she cooks it!However, last evening when we had a guest for dinner, I told Meena that I'll make the chicken masala for the dum biryani and asked her to make the ghee rice for that. Here's what we made and how we made it. This recipe was never a failure and I am confident that the readers will archive this recipe and not deviate from this. Satisfaction guaranteed. Ingredients:Long grain Basmati Rice - 400 Gms(2Cups)Whole garam masala - 1 bay leaf, 5-7 green cardamoms, 6 cloves, 1" stick cinnamon, 2 star anise, a pinch of maceSalt to tasteRefined oil - 40 MlGhee - 40 MlLemon - 1/2Water - 3 1/2 cupsChicken without skin - 7-8 biryani size pieces(Around 800 Gms)Curd - 15 MlTurmeric powder - 1/4 TspRed Chilli powder - 2 TspGinger Garlic paste - 5 TspBrown Onion - A handfulKasoori methi - 1 TspBrown onion paste(Optional) - 2 TspGreen chillies - 6Mint leaves - A handful + 1 Sprig choppedCoriander leaves - 50GmsTomatoes - 2 cut into small wedgesSugar - 1 TSpSaffron - A pinch dissolved in 10 Ml warm milkRaisins - A handl=fulCashew bits - A handfulMaida or wheat flour batter(Chapathi batter) - For sealing the vessel during dum(Optional) Method:Marinate chicken pieces with salt, 2 Tsp ginger garlic paste, a few brown onion strands, kasoori methi, chilli powder, turmeric powder and curds in a fridge for 3-4 hours.Grind green chillies, mint leaves and coriander leaves to a fine paste.Wash and soak basmati rice in water at room temperature for 20 mins. Drain and keep aside.Heat 20Ml oil and 20Ml ghee in a thick bottomed vessel with lid.Fry the whole garam masala spices till cardamoms start to crackle.Add 3 and 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil and add soaked rice.When the water starts to boil again, squeeze half lemon, add salt to taste, close the lid and simmer.Rice will get parboiled within 10 minutes and the water gets absorbed by the rice grains.Switch off the flame and allow to cool down.Now place a non stick pan on the flame.Add remaining oil and heat.Fry the cashew bits till golden, remove and keep aside.Add brown onion paste to the hot oil and remaining ginger garlic paste and fry till oil leaves the sides.Add the green masala, sugar and fry till raw smell disappears.Add marinated chicken without the marinade and fry well on high flame for 5-10 mins.Now add the marinade, mix gently, check for salt and then add the tomato wedges.Cover and cook for another 5 mins.Don't add any water, as chicken cooks in its own juices and the marinade.When the gravy thickens and chicken is just tender, switch off the flame. Preparing for Dum:You may use the same vessel in which you cooked rice, for preparing the chicken and rice for dum.Empty the parboiled ghee rice into a platter.Pour the chicken masala into the vessel.Sprinkle half of the brown onions over the curry and 10 Ml ghee.Cover the curry with ghee rice and garnish with remaining brown onions, fried nuts and raisins, remaining ghee and the saffron soaked in milk.Sprinkle chopped mint leaves all over.Close the lid, seal the lid with maida/wheat flour batter on the rim and place on fire with a perforated roti plate or a griddle underneath.Keep on dum for 10-15 mins.Open seal just before eating.Scoop a layer of hot rice with chicken masala and serve with choice of raita. Note: You can also arrange layers of curry and rice in a microwave proof container(as mentioned earlier) and keep in reheating mode for 3-5 mins for dum.