Biryani, biriani, or beriani is a range of primarily South Asian rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat or vegetables. It was spread throughout the Middle East and South Asia (and Southeast Asia to an extent) by Muslim travellers and merchants, and is popular in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka.
This recipe comes from a hand-typed sheet, covered in curry stains, that has been with me since my first Indian cookery course. It's a bit of an involved recipe but well worth the effort. It is best to marinate the meat overnight so prepare this the day before.
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- 1 whole chicken, skinned and jointed - chop the breasts, separate the wings and legs and cut lots of slashes in the leg joints so the marinade can penetrate. I like to leave the bones in as I feel it gives more flavour - it's up to you.
- You can of course use ready prepared chicken meat instead.
- 125 ml yogurt
- 2 cups basmati rice, rinsed in cold running water then drained well
- 2.5 cm (1") peeled ginger
- 4 Cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ cup coriander leaves and stalks, chopped
- 2 large tomatoes or ½ small tin of tomatoes, chopped
- Big pinch of saffron strands
- 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
- 3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
- 20 g sliced almonds
- 20 g sultanas or raisins
- sea salt to taste
Leave whole and remove before serving or pick out while eating:
- In a food processor, grind the ginger and garlic to a paste. Grind the whole spices in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Mix well into the yogurt and use to marinate the chicken, preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F - gas 4)
- Fry the onions in half of the oil, until golden, then remove half of the onions with a slotted spoon and reserve.
- Brown the remainder of the onions, stir in the meat and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook on a low heat until the meat is cooked and tender. Add more liquid if needed, but by the time the meat is cooked, most of the liquid should have cooked off.
- Add half of the chopped coriander or parsley, season with salt and set aside.
- In a large pan of boiling water, cook the washed rice for 10 minutes only. Drain and reserve. The final cooking will be done in the oven.
- Grease the base of a large oven-proof casserole with a little ghee.
- Using the cooked rice, chicken, coriander, cooked onions, saffron and dabs of ghee, fill the casserole in layers.
- Top with raisins or sultanas and sliced almonds, add a few dabs of ghee and cover with tin-foil
- Cook for 17 minutes
There is no need to peel ginger. As a result of attending a Thai cookery demo, we have learnt that peeling ginger is unnecessary unless for aesthetic purposes as the skin is high in fibre and full of flavour. However, do remove any bits that have become tough or woody.
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