Another Indian dish from the frozen isle section at Trader Joes that sparked my interest in cooking it at home: Vegetable biryani. Biryani is basically a flavored rice dish, more on the rice side dish than main dish. My Indian friends tell me that the cooking process is similar to cooking risotto --- a layered approach to cooking rice.
Since the way dishes are cooked in Indian cuisine is quite different from Western ones I sought out youtube again for a recipe. And, I wanted a simple one for starters. (I followed this recipe).
The recipe starts out with soaking basmati rice. During the soaking time, marinade the chicken with yogurt, a ton of spices, browned onions (I bought fried onions), and fresh herbs.
The chicken marinades for about 30 min. During the time the soaked rice is half cooked in a flavored broth with a bouquet garni made of spices; it needs to be undercooked because it finishes cooking with the chicken.
The semi-cooked rice is ladled on the marinated chicken, which are placed on the bottom of the pan. There is the first layer of rice, which is followed with spices, and I also added vegetables, with more rice, and finished with spices, vegetables and herbs. The original recipe calls for melted butter over the mix, which I forgot, but it would have added to the flavor.
Cover the pot, and cook for 20min on medium high, and then for 15min on low. This allows for the chicken to be fully cooked and the flavors to infuse and the rice to steam. (In the original recipe, the chef uses raw bread dough to seal the lid so that the steam is captured and used for cooking; I relied on tight fitting le creuset lids).
Fluff up the rice, and it is ready to serve.
Hyderabadi biryani by Chef Harpal
Ingredients: (for about 4 servings)
For the chicken marinade:
- Chicken either 4 drumsticks on the bone or 4 chicken thighs on the bone
- 3 TB Ginger garlic paste (made from raw ingredients or from jars, jars are fine)
- 1/2 ts cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plain yoghurt
- 1 ts ground garam masala
- 1 ts ground green cardamom
- 1/2 cup brown fried onions
- 2 TB melted butter or ghee
- 2 TB freshly chopped coriander
- 10-12 fresh Mint leaves (coarsely chopped)
- 2 hot green green chili (I used jalapenos and finely diced them)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- juice from 1 lime
For the basmati rice:
- 1-1.5 cups good basmati rice, washed several times and soaked for 30 minutes
- 1 TB black or regular cumin seeds
- Bouquet garni:
- In a 4 inch by 4 inch piece of cheese cloth pack
- 3 whole black cardamom pods
- 6 small whole green cardamom pods
- 6 whole cloves
- 6 whole black pepper corns
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
For the biryani:
- 1 teaspoon ground garam masala
- 1/2 ts ground cardamon powder
- 1/2 cup chopped coriander
- 10-12 finely chopped mint leaves
- 1/4 cup brown onions
- 1/3 teaspoon saffron steeped in 1/2 cup warm milk –
- 2 TB melted ghee
Add all the ingredients for the chicken in heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid, massage chicken with marinade and let sit for 1/2 an hour, or marinate longer, covered in the fridge.
Wash the rice 3 times, and then soak for 20min (important!). Add the spices in the cheese cloth in 4 cup water that is set to boil. Add the cumin seeds to the water, and the soaked rice.
When the rice is 3/4 done (ca 10-12 min), layer the half rice over the chicken (and let some of the water come along). Sprinkle some coriander (1 tbsp) , mint leaves (6-8), brown onions (1/8th cup), garam masala (1/2 tsp), green cardamom powder (1/2 ts) over the rice, and then layer the rest of the rice on top after straining it. On top, add rest of brown onions, garam masala (1/2 tsp), and the saffron soaked in milk. Finally, sooon 2 TB of melted ghee on top!
Put the biryani on the stove, and seal the pot. Cook the biryani about 20 minutes on medium high heat. Lower the heat to low, and for another 10-15 minutes. Serve!
The dish is also excellent at room temperature or a side in a salad.
Note: the marinated chicken sears to the bottom of the pan, and it might be better to cook the dish in an oven.