Tuesday, November 24

Shortcut (slightly) biriyani

When hubby worked out this recipe, he was very excited – now we would have rice that tasted just like biriyani without all the drama that traditional biriyani involves!

Then he started writing down the recipe and realised it was still quite insane. But 75% insane is still better than the full hit of faff.

One you get used to all the steps, biriyani has the benefit of being very versatile – you can try it with different meat, or paneer, or just plain ol’ veg without it being plain!

Layering in progress

What’s in it?

Ingredients for the marinade

  • 1kg chicken thigh fillets (boneless)
  • Half tsp minced garlic
  • 6tbsp yoghurt (we use fat free Greek-style)
  • 2tsp chicken masala
  • Half a lemon’s juice just for that extra tang

Ingredients for the sauce

  • 5tbsp oil (enough to cover the base of the pot)
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1tsp of minced garlic
  • 1tsp ginger paste
  • 4tbsp of tomato purée
  • 250g passata
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1tsp turmeric powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 2tsp chicken masala
  • 2tbsp yoghurt
  • 6tsp of sugar

Ingredients for rice

  • 400gms of basmati rice
  • 5 green cardamom pods’ seeds
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, split in half

Ingredients for garnishing

  • Crispy fried onions
  • Fresh coriander

Shortcut (slightly) biriyani

How do you make it?

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl and then add the chicken. Hubby always marinates the night before: 8-10 hours of marination is really good, if you go over this time that is absolutely fine. If you are pressed for time then a quick half an hour of marination is sufficient. The longer you marinate the more flavour chicken will have.
  2. Take an oven tray and coat it lightly with oil and put a little bit of water in it. Add the chicken, make sure each piece is separated.
  3. Cover the tray with foil and bake it on 190°C for 45mins. Take the foil off and check the chicken if it’s needs more time to cook. Continue to bake the chicken for extra 5 minutes or so without the foil so the chicken gets some colour.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, ready the sauce.
  5. Pour oil in a pot and then add in the onion, garlic and ginger and sauté. When the onion is golden brown add tomato purée and passata. Add a little bit of water (maybe 250ml) so the mix becomes a thick saucy consistency, like cream of tomato soup. You do not want it to be too runny.
  6. Add the salt, turmeric, paprika and chicken masala and mix it well.
  7. Cover it with a lid and let it cook on a simmer flame for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the bot. If it gets too thick, add more water (at this point we added another 100ml).
  8. Add the yoghurt and sugar. Add the sugar and give it a taste test. You can add more spices if you want here or add more sugar if you want to. Go with what you like, have fun with it!
  9. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce and let it simmer with a lid on.
  10. Now, get 400gms of basmati rice and give it a good wash until the water runs clear. In a pot take 2 tbsp of oil and add the cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves and after about 10 seconds or so add rice with lots of water (about 2 litres). We are going to boil the rice and then drain the starch. When the rice is almost cooked (not crunchy, but a little grainy), drain the rice in a large sieve. If you overcook the rice let it cool for a little while before layering otherwise you’ll get a mush.
  11. Get layering! Do this quickly as the rice will start to clump as it cools (unless you overcooked the rice – see above!). Do a layer of rice, then a layer of chicken sauce mixture, then a layer of coriander and a layer of crispy fried onions. Remove the bay leaves and cinnamon as you go – they aren’t needed in the final dish. Keep layering until you’ve used all your rice and sauce mix, the layers don’t need to be even. You will see that we swapped pots at this point so the final mix was going into our largest pot.
  12. Cover it with the lid and leave it aside for 5 minutes or so.
  13. Gently mix (fold, don’t stir) the mixture in the pot so some rice stay white and some get coated in the sauce. This is what gives biryani its multi colour.
  14. Serve it with cucumber raita or just plain yoghurt!

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