Recently, I had this wonderful opportunity, to visit the Kitchen of the fine dining restaurant – ‘Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor’ in Abu Dhabi. A very big Thanks to friends, who made this happen.
The restaurant stands in a prime location, in Nation Towers, overlooking the Corniche. The restaurant prominently showcases modern and contemporary interiors. Yet, the elegance of Indian cultural elements are not to be missed. The menu here, boasts of traditional dishes served with a twist.
Disclaimer: This post is not a review on the restaurant. I was not invited to write about the cuisine or the restaurant.
It is my own personal interest, to learn new things, from speciality chefs that has led to this post. It is hard to find restauranteurs, who are open-minded to share their recipes and kitchen. Especially, allowing a blogger like me, who doesn’t even have an account in any social networking arena, certainly isn’t a normal trend in either today’s restaurant business or blogging field . That is why, I need to extend my warmest gratitude to the owners of the restaurant, to have given me the opportunity to learn the dishes and also share them with my readers.
Signature By Sanjeev Kapoor, is a well known chain of restaurants in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Doha. The restaurant serves signature dishes of Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor, well acclaimed Celebrity Chef of the Indian Subcontinent. He can easily be hailed as, one of the first very few Chefs in India, to have popularised the Job of a Culinary Artist, if I can say so, to the most respectful status it enjoys today. Due to such devoted as well as media friendly/articulate Chefs like Mr. Kapoor, the profession has acquired a Cult Status today. This in turn, has motivated a big chunk of the younger generation, to join the crew of Chefs, in a dream to become Sanjeev Kapoors of their Restaurants. And millions of home cooks like me, also feel the aura of a Chef’s Cap, when a dish is cooked to perfection.
All said and done, the struggle of a chef to reach the desired heights is enormous. Especially, to reach the Pinnacle of one’s career, is not a mean feat. And Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor, continues to be the Super Speciality Chef, even after years of attaining the Apex status of the most popular Chef of Modern India.
One of the few first cookery books, I bought to keep on the coffee table at home, were three books of Mr. Sanjeev Kapoor. While we live away from our homeland, I feel authentic culinary experts like Mr. Kapoor are the Best Brand Ambassadors, who represent Indian Cuisine abroad.
I thoroughly made use of the opportunity, to learn two of everyone’s favourite dishes, Biriyani and Kabab. The recipe of these two, among many more, makes me feel truly inquisitive about the several processes of preparation.
Among the Biriyanis, the Chef demonstrated –
- Chicken Biriyani
- Easy Mutton Biriyani, with left over Mutton curry
The Executive Chef at ‘Signature By Sanjeev Kapoor’, was very patient, to explain the step by step processes of the making of Biriyani . After his demonstration, the recipe now looks very simple. A very big Thanks to him.
First to grab on, is the Chicken Biriyani.
Now, to the recipe-
Chicken Biriyani (serves 3-4)
Since it was a demonstration, the right quantities of chicken and rice are only given. Other quantities are approximate values. As told by Chef, It is a usual norm to use 1/2 kg chicken for 1/2 kg of rice.
Marinating the Chicken
- Half a kilo of cleaned chicken pieces
2. Add 4 slit green chillies and 3 tsp ginger garlic paste
3. Add turmeric, chilli, cardamom, pepper powders and salt to the chicken
4. Add ginger juliennes, ghee, crispy fried (browned) onions and coriander leaves
5. Add yoghurt and mix well
6. Let this chicken and added ingredients marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
- Wash and soak rice in water, atleast half an hour prior to boiling water.
2. Boil water in a wide pot or pan, that is big enough to cook rice and throw away excess water. Add dry spices and other ingredients listed below. Let the water boil with the spices for about 8-10 minutes.
- bay leaves
- black pepper
- fennel seeds
- ginger julienne
- mint leaves
- coriander leaves
- green chillies
3. Remove the spices from water.
4. Drop the soaked rice in the boiling water and let it cook.
5. Choose a good hard bottomed pan. The quality of the pan would facilitate in making a successful final product, which doesn’t stick to the bottom of the vessel.
6. Add the marinated chicken to the pan.
7. Two pans, one with rice and the other with marinated chicken, are kept alongside each other, both getting cooked simultaneously .
8. After a while, they look like this…
9. The chicken now, is half cooked. And the rice is also half cooked. It is time to give the first layer to the chicken curry. The stove is always kept in medium to sim position. Once we start keeping the layers, the flame should be in sim position only.
10. With half cooked chicken at the bottom, first layer of rice on top- add crispy fried golden brown onions.
11. Now, the second layer of rice; then golden brown onions and coriander leaves.
12. Add saffron water and khewra water (extract from distilled pandanus flowers)
13. Moving on to the third and the last layer…rice, golden brown onions, coriander leaves, saffron water and khewra water. This time, add ginger juliennes and garam masala on top
14. Remember, all this while, the stove is kept in sim position.
15. The next step, is to seal the vessel and allow the chicken and rice to blend well with the spices added. Take kneaded wheat flour and press it on the edges of the pan.
16. Close tightly with a lid, and let the combination of multiple ingredients bring out the best of each other. This might take approximately 20 minutes. Keep the flame in full for the first 2-3 minutes and then simmer and cook for another 18 minutes.
17. A better way to cook 100% unburnt Dum Biriyani, is to place the pan on a hot cast iron pan, which is kept on medium flame. This way, direct heat doesn’t affect the bottom layer of the biriyani, that is the chicken.
18. We are almost done. Hold your breath tight and open the pan to see the beautifully cooked delicacy. Enjoy the wonderful aroma of the slow cooked Dum Biriyani.
A truly inspiring and delightful experience over all.