"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Recipes–Easy Chicken Biryani

You will find many recipes for Chicken Biryani on the Internet, and this one diverges somewhat from the classic ones.  Why I like it, however, is because of the sweetness.  I adjusted the spices (adding garam masala,  more cinnamon and cloves and a touch of sweet mango chutney) so that it would move out of the familiar curry taste spectrum to something very Indian/Pakistani, but a lot more interesting. I deliberately left out the cumin powder which usually is added to the more traditional recipes, but since cumin is a very strong spice, it tends to take over and mask the subtleties of the other, sweeter spices.

The garam masala is the key spice in the dish. I also use coconut milk mixed with water to cook the rice. The recipe below is for four servings as a side dish.  If you would like to make this a main dish, then double everything.

Don’t be dismayed by the number of spices.  They all add to the taste of a really delicious dish.  If you don’t have the garam masala, you can easily get it at any Indian store, and while you’re there, you can get any of the more exotic spices like the fenugreek.  All the other spices are available at Whole Foods.

Chicken Biryani (4 servings)

* 1 lg. boneless chicken breast (boiled, cut up into 1” pieces)

* 1 cup Jasmine, Basmati, or other long-grained rice

* 4-5 Tbsp. olive oil

* 5-6 lg. cloves garlic, loosely chopped

* 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

* 5-6 whole cardamoms, lightly crushed

* 2 tsp. fenugreek seeds, crushed well (pieces of fenugreek can be bitter)

* 2 tsp.coriander seeds, lightly crushed

* 10 whole cloves

* 10-12 whole peppercorns

* 1/2 tsp. powdered cinnamon

* 1/2 tsp. powdered ginger

* 3-4 shakes hot pepper flakes

* 1 tsp. turmeric

* 1 Tbsp. sweet mango chutney

* 1 1/2 Tbsp. garam masala

* 15 raisins (approx.)

* 1 cup coconut milk

- Cook the rice in 1 cup water, 1 cup coconut milk with a dash of salt

- Boil the chicken breast until done (about 15 minutes). Test after ten minutes or so to be sure that it is done, but not overcooked.  You can also bake the chicken, but I find that boiling it is easy and the spices in the sauce will give all the flavor you need.  When cool, chop.

- LET THE RICE COOL COMPLETELY.  The best thing to do is to cook the rice in the morning for an evening meal or the night before.  Warm or hot rice mixed with the sauce will be gummy and gluey.

- Sautee the garlic and onion in the olive oil for about 5 minutes until done – the garlic should not brown

- Add the rest of the spices (except the chutney), and sauté over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add more oil if the mixture appears too dry, but not too much.  For the final product the rice should not be wet or oily, but more fluffy.

- Add the chopped chicken and chutney and mix well.

- Taste and adjust the spices.  At this point, you can add anything except more garlic, coriander, cardamom, or fenugreek seeds

- Add the cool rice and the raisins and mix well.  Again taste, warm the mixture over low heat for about 20 minutes and serve.

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