Weekday chicken biryani - a quick alternative with authentic flavours
I thankfully received the package of lunch, that was arranged for us as the train geared to depart from the station. The package had a box of rice, a packet of raita, and a third box with dazzling golden liquid in it. I had always heard about biriyani, but never did I have one until we left Hyderabad station that day. That was the first time I ever went to Hyderabad, and also the first time I had biriyani - I was lucky! I had an instant love for biriyani, and soon thereafter it was included in our regular restaurant orders, besides paneer butter masala and chilli chicken.
Over the years, I taught myself how to cook biriyani and received an advice or two, all contributing to perfect it one day. I don't think I have gotten there, mainly because it takes time, technique, and patience. I may have one of those, but all three in combination is hard to achieve. I have settled for an intermediate compromise, and I am happy, only because biriyani can be a weeknight delight and not just a holiday occupation. After a long day at work, I seek comfort on the plate, and if possible, in the least amount of time. This recipe of chicken biriyani saves me on some of those days. If I was cooking for my Mom, I'd simply do a vegetarian version.
Luckily that day the dusk was dry and comfortable, so we enjoyed this plate of comfort in our balcony. Bon apetit!
Time to prepare: 20 minutes
Time to cook: 60 minutes (mostly oven time)
- 2 large red onions - 1 thinly sliced, and the other blended into a fine paste
- 2 tbsp minced ginger & garlic
- 2 tomatoes - pureed/blended
- 250g chicken thigh
- 1/2 cup low fat yogurt
- 1 star anise
- 4-5 cloves
- 2 pods of cardamom
- Mace, or a tsp of nutmeg as a substitute would work just fine
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- A few strands of saffron
- 1/4 cup warm milk
- 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups of water
- Salt to taste
- Clean the chicken pieces and chop into bite size cubes. Marinate overnight, or for at least 20 minutes in a mixture of yoghurt, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, and lime juice.
- Clean the rice and soak in warm water for 20 minutes
- Add the saffron to warm milk and set aside for the aroma of saffron to infuse in milk.
- Heat some oil in a skillet and stir the onion slices in until they turn brown. Set aside.
- Add some more oil in the same skillet and add the whole spices (6-9) and onion paste. Cook while stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken along with all the marinade, add a cup of water, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- In a microwave safe dish, layer the biryani. The first layer is usually rice, followed by a layer of chicken curry, and a few leaves of mint, some of the fried onion, and a teaspoon of the saffron milk. Repeat until all the rice and curry is layered up. Top it with the remaining onion, add 3 cups of water, and microwave at 750 watts for 15 minutes.