Sunday, January 16, 2011

Chicken biryani

Remarkably easy to do, and great for a crowd.  Be sure to prep all your ingredients ahead of time and have them at the ready to use.  

If you're wary of Indian food, you'll find that this is a good dish to try -- it's not 'challenging' to the Western palate, and this particular recipe is fragrant and flavorful, without being 'spicy' or hot.  The raisins add a nice sweetness to the rice.  

You might well not have coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom pods, or whole dried chilis in your pantry.  If that's the case, you can use the dry ground spices you'll find in the supermarket.  You'll need to ratchet down the quantities -- 2 tsp coriander seeds are equivalent to probably 1 tsp dry ground coriander, and so on. 

8 chicken thighs
Salt and pepper

1/4 c vegetable oil
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
2 tsp coriander seeds
6 cardamom pods
2 tsp cumin seeds
3 dried chili pepper pods

1 medium onion
6 cloves garlic
2 Tbp fresh ginger

2 c basmati rice
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 c raisins

Sliced toasted almonds 
Whole-milk Greek yogurt
Chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Peel the onions, garlic, and ginger.  Chop coarsely, and process to a paste in a food processor.  Set aside. 

Combine the coriander, cardamom, and cumin seeds, and crush gently in a mortar.   Set aside.

Pour oil into a 6-quart Dutch oven and heat.  Dry the chicken pieces, season liberally with salt and pepper, and place skin side down in the hot oil.  Sauté until the skin is well browned, about 8 minutes. Turn and brown the other side.   Remove pieces to a warm platter.

Remove about half the oil and set aside.  Add the crushed spices, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, and chili peppers to the hot oil and sauté briefly until the aromas are released -- about 30 seconds.  Add the onion-ginger-garlic paste, and sauté briefly. 

Add uncooked rice, and sauté a few minutes.  Add raisins.  Add stock and salt to taste, and return the chicken pieces to the Dutch oven.  Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, then put into a 350°F oven.  Let cook in the oven about 40-50 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed, and the rice is cooked.  Fluff with a fork.

Serve the rice on a warmed platter, with the chicken pieces arranged on top. Sprinkle with sliced toasted almonds.

Serve with whole-milk Greek yogurt into which fresh chopped cilantro has been stirred.  

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