Monday, November 7, 2011

Chicken biryani

It started off with one of those craving-driven lightbulb moments... There we were trying to figure out the dinner menu for our family's post-deepavali get-together and I come up with the "brilliant" idea of doing the biryani. And then, I actually did some google research and the daunting feeling of experimenting a new dish for 15 people started getting magnified. It ended up going pretty well once I figured out the basic steps (marinade chicken > soak rice > cook chicken halfway > cook rice & aromatics > combine > garnish) and the end result received some compliments...

I drew elements from several different recipes, but mainly the chicken marinade is from the doyenne of Indian chefs - Madhur Jaffrey (original recipe here - though this is a time-consuming one...).


Step A) Spiced Chicken marinade
6 chicken legs (cut into half = one drumstick, one thigh)
5 garlic cloves
3 medium onions
1 piece (2-inch) fresh ginger
10 cloves
20 black peppercorns
8 cardamom pods (use the seeds)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 cup yogurt

Method: Remove skin from chicken. Prepare the marinade paste by grinding all the other ingredients in a blender till smooth. Combine marinade with chicken, mix well and leave in refridgerator for a minimum of 2 hours (preferably overnight).

Step 2: Soak 2 cups of long-grain basmati rice in water for at least an hour.

Step 3: Cook chicken
Method: In a pot, heat some vegetable oil. Remove chicken pieces from marinade and cook in the pot till all sides are browned. Add in rest of marinade and leave till chicken is 3/4 cooked. Once done, remove chicken pieces in a separate bowl. Continue boiling down the marinade until the paste becomes very thick. Taste the paste, if you feel it needs to be spicier - add 1 teaspoon curry powder.

Step 4: Cook rice
3 medium onions - diced
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cardamom pods
2 tablespoon ghee

Method: Mix turmeric/saffron with warm milk in a separate glass. In a non-stick pot, melt ghee and saute onions, bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom till fragrant and onions have browned. Drain the soaked rice and add to the pot. Mix the rice well until each grain is coated with ghee. Add in 700ml water, salt to taste, and cook on high heat until it boils.

Step 5: Combine both Chicken & rice
1/2 teaspoon turmeric OR 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
2 tablespoons warm milk

Method: Add two-three tablespoons of thickened marinade and mix rice. Next, bury the chicken pieces in the rice (put a spoonful of the marinade paste on top of chicken before you cover it with the rice). Mix turmeric/saffron with warm milk and pour over the rice, streaking it yellow. Cover pot tightly with aluminum foil and the pot cover. Cook on LOW heat for 15 minutes till rice is cooked.

* Rule of thumb: 250g long-grain rice : 350ml water

Step 6: Garnish
Chopped cashew nuts
Fried onions
Coriander (optional)

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