Chicken Biryani

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Chicken Biryani

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.

Chicken Biryani
Serves 4

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.

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  1. says

    I love Indian food but I find that many people are turned off by its strong flavors (I used to be one of them). In general I think it depends what you order, some dishes are milder than others (but still yummy). I’m glad you found one that you like!

  2. says

    Love it! I want to snag that little onion bit balanced just perfectly on the chicken! We are big fans of Indian food, especially dishes like you’ve made here. YUM!

  3. says

    This looks and sounds deeee-licious…think I’ll give it a try. I did attempt to buy Cardamom pods at the regular grocery store, and they had to help me up off the hard tile floor – $18 for a small McCormick spice bottle. Fellow blogger Alaskan Dave Down Under helped me figure out that I could buy it MUCH less expensively on Amazon (who knew?)!

  4. says

    What?! Don’t like Indian food?! GASP!! :-)

    You are awesome for not shying away from this, despite your doubts! I heart that kind of attitude. I’m glad you did find an Indian dish you love. A convert! Yay!

  5. says

    I do love Indian food – and I admire you for giving it another chance.
    I know the powdery taste that you speak of – if you use lots of spices in the seed form, all nice and toasty, then you don’t have so much powdery taste. I think it comes from using only powdered spices.
    Looks like you used lots of whole spices here, which is why you probably liked it better!
    Looks tasty!

  6. says

    Don’t you just love it when you are pleasantly surprised by a new dish? Mark Bittman is one of my “men” too! This chicken looks so good, I’m bookmarking this one. We love Indian food around here, but I don’t cook it much. Funny, because I only like some Thai…

  7. says

    I once worked for an Indian doctor that took us to lunch at an Indian restaurant. She tried to help us at the buffet table but I ate something hot and had heartburn for 3 days!!!!

  8. says

    Hi Pam … I’m back with a follow up comment. I made this for dinner tonight! Your instructions were super easy to follow, and the dish turned out beautifully! I was just me and my girls at dinner tonight, and all of us really enjoyed it. I’m keeping the rest warm until hubby and son get home later. YUM!

  9. says

    I love chicken biryani and am glad to hear you’re being pulled back into Indian food. There’s a lot of bad stuff out there, but once you try the good stuff, there’s no going back. This looks great!

  10. says

    This is muuuuch simpler than my standard biryani. I usually call in my husband’s help just to measure out all the spices while I’m cooking down the onions. And thanks for the heads up on the Regional Recipes roundup – I’ll have to check it out.

  11. says

    I a bookmarking this dish and only until I get a copy of the book. I saw it for a good price and lost out…now I wait!

    The spices, exotic blend sounds like a delight.

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