Chicken Biryani

Reading my blog and recipes, you would have noticed that I like Indian foods.  The flavors, spices, and ingredients – it is an explosion of tastes, leaving you in Nirvana of foods.

Some of these more exotic dishes look complicated to make, and you will undoubtedly question your kitchen skills when you embark on dishes outside your native country.

Remember, Indian food in India is just ‘food’ 🙂

I’m sure that Indians will find it complicated to make some Danish dishes.  Heck, even English dishes can be complicated despite having less flavor and less creative than other kitchens.

Anyway, we need to explore and taste foods from around the world.  It is a cultural experience.  You don’t need to visit India or and Indian restaurant in order to eat Indian food.  Plenty of opportunities to explore these flavors in your own kitchen.

Today we will explore a lovely rice dish, Chicken Biryani.

In simple terms, it is “just” a price dish with loads of spices, rice, and of course chicken.

spices
flavors – flavors – flavors

It is fascinating to explore these dishes, and if you dig a bit deeper, you find that these dishes come with influences from other cultures.  This dish, although it originates from India, it has been heavily influenced by the Persian kitchen.

WOW – a history lesson.  The Persian empire, Mughlai, invaded India and brought Biryani to India, where it since evolved, and now it is served in most Indian restaurants around the world.

The word “biryani” comes from the Persian word “birian” which means “fried before cooking.”

Ready?  Let’s get started, my friend!

Here’s what you need.  If you don’t have it, visit Amazon, your local Indian market, or seek out alternative ingredients that offer similar flavors.  Your choice!

Note – I remove salt and replace certain ingredients with healthier options in all my recipes, such as using almond yogurt instead of regular yogurt.

  • 1 cup of almond yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 2-3 lbs of chicken thighs, no skin, and no bones
  • 1 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
  • 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups of rice.  I prefer Basmati rice.
  • 8-10 whole cloves
  • 8-10 green cardamom pods
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 generous pinches saffron
  • 1/4 cup of almond milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped into squares
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped crudely
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped crudely

Now you have all the ingredients lined up on your kitchen counter, you might wonder where to start and where to actually work given your counter is full.

Fret not my apprentice, it will all work out.

Let’s get cooking

  1. Locate a large bowl
  2. Add the yogurt, chili powder, and turmeric
  3. Mix this into a yogurt marinade
  4. Add the chicken and coat the chicken pieces
  5. Leave the chicken to marinate for at least an hour on the kitchen counter.  This allows you to prepare the rest of the dish
  6. Grab a large saucepan, with high sides
  7. Pour in the oil and heat it up to around 350 degrees Fahrenheit – hot enough to fry
  8. Only fry half of the onions, stirring frequently, until light brown … keep an eye on the onions, as they can get burned really fast.  You might need to fry it in batches, depending on the size of your pan
  9. DO NOT discard the oil!
  10. When done, fish them out and place them on a paper-towel covered plate
  11. Rice trick – wash, rinse, and drain the rice in a bowl full of cold water until the water is almost clear about 5 times.
  12. Fill a large pot with about a gallon of water
  13. Add the rice, the cloves, the cardamom pods, the bay leaves, peppercorns, and bring it to a boil
  14. Let it boil for 5 minutes
  15. Drain the rice + spices, and transfer to a large bowl
  16. Turn your oven on, and set it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  17. In a small bowl, mix the milk and the saffron
  18. Now it is time to bring out your Dutch oven.
  19. Add 3 tablespoons of the oil you used from frying the onions, and heat to medium
  20. Throw in the cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, last cloves, last cardamom pods,, and 2 bay leaves
  21. Gently fry while stirring, until the spices fill your kitchen with fantastic smells, and they begin to brown slightly
  22. Then you add the ginger and garlic, frying for another minute
  23. Throw in the tomato
  24. Stir occasionally while scraping the ingredients from the bottom of the Dutch oven, until the tomatoes start to break and release the juices
  25. The liquid in the pot should evaporate after 6 to 8 minutes
  26. You add in 1/2 cup of water, bring to a boil, and scrape off any bits that are stuck to the Dutch oven
  27. You gently place the marinated chicken on top of the various ingredients and tomatoes
  28. Cover the chicken with half the fried opinions
  29. Cover the chicken and the onions with the rice, spices and milk/saffron mixture
  30. Place the lid on the Dutch oven, place it in the preheated oven and let it bake until liquids have evaporated.  Roughly 30 to 40 minutes.
  31. Remove it from the oven and let it sit to cool for about 10-15 minutes
  32. Transfer the dish to a large serving tray/plate
  33. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the dish; fried onions, cilantro, and mint leaves

The dish is ready to be served.  Enjoy it with family and friends while watching Bollywood movies.  Have a nice evening!

You can, of course, make a portion of Naan bread as well, with some nice homemade (or store-bought) relishes, just to make it even more authentic.

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