When this month’s Regional Recipes was announced, I slumped back in disappointment. I don’t like Indian food. I know, some of you are probably gasping in astonishment, like I would be if you said that you didn’t like Thai. I tried to like it, I spent a fortune at Penzey’s and bought curry powder (hot and mild), tumeric, garam masala, fenugreek, and more that I can’t think of right now. Even with all my special ingredients, I didn’t like it. It tasted “powdery” to me. I tried an Indian restaurant, I can’t remember now what I ordered, but it was so hot and spicy that I only ate a few bites in between huge amounts of the yogurt sauce.
I faced Indian food with trepidation and considered skipping this month, but I am a trooper. So, I turned to my man…no not David Lebovitz, my other man…no not Tyler Florence…my other man, Mark Bittman. Not just any Mark Bittman, but The Best Recipes in the Worldto be exact. I chose that book because in the back, there is a section where the recipes are organized by regions. I turned to India and chose the very first chicken recipe in the list. Easy peasy.
Not only was it easy to find the recipe, but the recipe itself was easy. And guess what!?!? I loved it. I didn’t just like it, I loved it!! It goes on my to-be-repeated-many-times list. It kind of reminded me of a chicken and rice dish that I used to make in college, only much, much better. I used boneless thighs because that it was I had. I served it with lentils on the side.
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
salt and black pepper to taste
large pinch of saffron threads
10 whole cardamom pods, preferable 5 white or green and 5 black (mine were all green)
5 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 3 to 4 pound chicken, cut into serving pieces or 2 1/2 to 3 pounds parts
1/4 cup slivered almonds, optional
Put 2 tablespoons butter in a deep skillet. Turn the heat to medium high and after about a minute add the onion and some salt and pepper. Cook the onion until it is soft, for about 5 – 10 minutes. Add the spices, stir and cook for about an another minute.
Add the rice and stir until the rice is glossy and all the ingredients are mixed (about 2 to 3 minutes). Add the stock, chicken, and some more salt and pepper. Bring it to a boil, cover and reduce the heat until it is at simmer.
Cook for 25 minutes. Check that all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice and chicken are both tender.
If you are using the almonds (I didn’t), melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and brown lightly. Pour this over the biryani, re-cover and let rest for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Be sure and check all the Indian recipes at this months Regional Recipes on the 20th, hosted at Blazing Hot Wok.