When I saw a recipe for Chicken Biryani in last month's Indian-themed Kitchen Trotter box, I wasn't overly inspired. I've made biryani in the past and I'm not even sure I followed a recipe - I just put chicken in with some pre-cooked rice, added cream and spices and put it in the oven until it soaked up all the liquid. It was nice enough but nothing mind-blowing, but I decided to follow the recipe from the box to the letter and see if it was any more impressive. It did use a lot of whole spices which gave it a nice touch of authenticity, but I have to admit, I still wasn't totally blown away because, let's face it, it's curry so it's not particularly ground-breaking !
drizzle of olive oil
4 chicken thighs
280g basmati rice
2tbsp biryani spice mix
1tbsp garlic/ginger paste
fresh coriander and mint
2 cardamom pods
4 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (or I used a few pieces of cassia bark)
10cl milk or coconut milk
a pinch of saffron
200ml Greek yogurt or thick low-fat crème fraîche
a handful of cashew nuts
a sprinkle of dried grilled onions
This recipe used two ingredients from the Kitchen Trotter box - Bombay Biryani seasoning and minced garlic and ginger paste.
The Bombay Biryani spice mix is a blend of Red Chilli, Coriander, Salt, Roasted Cumin Powder, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Paprika Powder, Dehydrated Plums, Cardamom, Dried Garlic, Dried Ginger, Cinnamon, Clove, Bay Leaves, Mace and Saffron.
To this, I added a couple of spoonfuls of garlic and ginger paste and some freshly snipped mint and coriander leaves.
Mix in the yogurt or crème fraîche to create a smooth marinade.
Chop each chicken thigh into three or four pieces (I think, with hindsight, that this would actually be a lot easier with chicken breast) and toss in the marinade to evenly coat. Leave to chill for a couple of hours. In a separate bowl, put the basmati to soak in cold water.
In a large ovenproof pot, pour in a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil. Toss in two bay leaves, two or three cloves, two cardamom pods and a cinnamon stick.
Heat for a couple of minutes then add the thinly sliced onions and cook, stirring, for ten minutes.
Add the chicken pieces from the marinade and cook on a high heat for ten minutes, moving constantly around the pan.
I would recommend pretty much cooking the chicken all the way through at this stage because it's hard to check once it's in the oven covered in rice.
Meanwhile pre-cook the rice in salted water, with a bay leaf and two cloves in the water for 10 minutes - it should stay al dente.
Slightly heat the milk (or I used up the end of a can of coconut milk) and sprinkle in the saffron.
Drain the rice and pour over the chicken in the pot. Pour the saffron milk over the top.
Bake at 180° for half an hour. Some of the chicken was still a bit red on the inside, so I added an extra 15 minutes of cooking time. The rice was slightly overcooked by this point though, which is why I recommend cutting it into smaller pieces (I only cut each thigh into two) or using chicken breast which cooks more quickly. Sprinkle cashew nuts and grilled onions over the top.
Serve the rice and lay some chicken on top. As I was worried about it being fiery hot (haivng tasted the marinade before adding the chicken), I added a dollop of crème fraîche on top, but it was actually pretty mild once it was cooked with the rice.
It was definitely a more authentic biryani than my last attempt, and the use of whole spices packs in a lot more flavour.
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Fancy trying some more Indian recipes? How about Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry orLow Calorie Butter Chicken?