Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Chicken Biryani recipe

Chicken biryani is one of the simplest meals that I make. This one pot meal combines grain (Rice) and protein (Chicken) in one dish and has its roots somewhere in the persian culture. I have had versions of this dish in Iranian restaurants and it often comes up in discussion with my Turkish friends as well but I think the turkish recipe calls for a lot of mint.
So, what prompted me to share this recipe today? Well, as I was making this dish the other day I was reminded of my friend that I left behind in Minnesota and she had asked me to post it on my blog possibly several years ago. Now that I am severely nostalgia driven, it was easy to take pictures as I cooked and served and publish it in a post…it took almost no time, Oh! the power of emotions.

Here's the recipe and cooking process through pictures:
Collect a few whole pieces of each - jeera, fennel (saunf) seeds, black pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, cloves, dried red chillies (optional) in a mortar and pestle and crush them gently enough to break the pods but retain the shape.
 In a marinating glass bowl, add skinless chicken pieces (12-15 medium sized), salt, chilli powder, jeera powder, coriander powder, whole spice mix from the previous step and a couple table spoon of yogurt. Toss everything and set aside. This step can be done ahead and chicken can marinate for 8-10 hours/ overnight in the fridge.

When ready for cooking, add finely chopped onions to hot oil in a heavy bottom pan. After the onions are cooked to slightly pink, add fresh ginger and garlic. I like my ginger and garlic chopped but my daughter hates chunky pieces of ginger so if I have extra time or if I'm cooking for little people, I add ginger paste instead.
Also wash and soak rice in a separate bowl, I measure about 1/3-1/4 cup uncooked rice per person depending on the other accompaniments/appetizers.

Once the onions have released all its water, add the chicken from the marinade bowl and hold the liquid back.

Cook chicken first on high heat and then on low heat to evaporate all water and release oil from the masala. You can see it at the edges when the clear oil makes sort of a rim. You should see some crisp/browned edges on the chicken pieces by now.

Drain the water from the rice and add it to the chicken and masala in the pan. Toss to make sure rice is evenly distributed. Add water and close the lid. Usually proportion of rice and water is 1 rice:2 water but if you can cooking in a pressure cooker like I am this time, the rice and water ratio is 1:1. This is a good time to add the marinading liquid along with water (follow same proportions).  

I cook most meals in a pressure cooker since its fast but if I am cooking biryani for a larger gathering, I'd use a cast iron pan and pop it in the oven at this point with other things. The oven temperature can be anything from 350F- 420F, it is decided by what else's in the oven; just check often to make sure the rice is not over cooked. For pressure cooker, close the heat after one whistle and let the steam slowly release as it cooks the rice in about 10-15 additional minutes.

Note: I usually don't add haldi (Turmeric) to the biryani masala but on this day I must have. In our household turmeric is the miracle recovery ingredient and after a day of intense physical activity, the girls like to drink hot milk with a teaspoon of haldi (turmeric) and lot of honey. This could have been one of those days when we needed an added boost. 

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