Step 1: Method to prepare Biryani masala:
Wash chicken well, place it on a colander to drain off all water. Heat a large vessel to medium low and add oil. When hot, throw in the whole spices. When they leave the aroma sauté chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and onions along with salt until the onions become soft and translucent.
Step 2: At this point, add chopped tomatoes. When the tomatoes start to soften ad breakdown almost completely, add chicken and cook until almost done. All this should be done on a low heat so that onion releases its juice and chicken gets cooked in that juice slowly. Add lime juice, chopped coriander and mint leaves and cook the chicken until done. Add garam masala and close lid to infuse in the flavour.
Step 3: Method to prepare Ghee rice and Garnishing:
Wash rice several times until you g et clear water to drain. Soak the rice for half an hour.
Step 4: For preparing the garnish, in a large non-stick vessel, add oil + ghee or only ghee as mentioned in the recipe and fry the cashews until golden. Remove them and drain on a kitchen towel. In the same oil fry the raisins until they puff up and keep them along with cashews. Fry the onion until just golden and keep them with the former. The onion will get coloured.
Step 5: For preparing the ghee rice, In the same vessel, add ¾ cup slice onion and sauté till the onion turn soft and translucent. At this stage add cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon and cumin seeds and sauté for a minute until it leaves the aroma.
Step 6: Strain the rice and tip in the rice slowly and fry for 5 minutes on high heat by constant stirring. Add boiling water, salt, curry leaves and lime juice and keep boiling, by keeping the lid open until all the water has disappeared, but the rice is still wet and not dry. Reduce the flame to low, Cover tightly to let all the steam in and cook it until done. In between you can flip the rice two times to ensure even cooking.
Step 7: For layering the biryani and final cooking:
1. Using a large plate, take out 2/3 rd of the rice from the vessel and transfer it to another bowl. Leave the rest 1/3 of the rice in the vessel and level off the surface neatly using a spatula. Sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala (from the garam masala that is reserved for sprinkling) all over. If you are adding colour, add few drops of yellow or orange food colouring in 4-5 places. Take half of the masala and sprinkle over the rice along with the chicken. Spoon 1/3 rd of the rice again over the chicken masala. Sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala, and few drops of colouring. Add the rest half of the masala and complete the layering by spooning the last 1/3 of the rice. Sprinkle again with garam masala, and few drops of colouring. So now you have alternating layers of rice and masala that?s goes like this: Rice, Biryani masala, rice, Biryani masala and again rice.
Cover the entire vessel with foil (to ensure that full steam stays in), then close the lid tightly. Place a weight over this vessels and cook on hob top for about 30 minutes at very low heat. This is to infuse the flavour of the biryani masala into the rice and this process of cooking is called Dum. To know if it is done, lift the lid and you should be able to see steam coming from the top part of rice. And the rice on the top will be slightly curvy.
6. You can also do the layering in an ovenproof vessel and place it in a preheated oven at a very low temperature for about 20-30 minutes for the final cooking. Just before serving, garnish with fried onions, cashews and raisins.