Flouting the law

The Royal Indian Mounted Food Control Police sent his biryani recipe to a friend via me. I am posting it here with some spelling corrections and a few minor content edits that will no doubt result in penalties, fines and tickets, if not outright incarceration.

Chicken Biryani (serves 6)

For the marinade:

1 cup Greek yoghurt

Juice of one medium lime

2 cloves of garlic crushed

1 inch slice of ginger grated

2 tablespoons garam masala

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 tablespoon salt

I also add onions, peppers, tomatoes

Mix everything in a bowl, and taste. It should be salty and a bit tangy from the lime juice. If not, add a bit more salt and lime juice. 

For the chicken:

4 chicken breast halves, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup of dried fruit (raisins [regular or golden], apricots, cherries all work)

1/2 cup whole cashews

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Add chicken to the spice mix and let marinate up to two hours in the fridge, or at least 45 minutes at room temperature but not too much more or the acid of the lime juice will begin to “cook” the chicken like ceviche.

For rice:

2 cups of basmati rice

1 inch slice of ginger, peeled and julienned 

1 bayleaf

1 (2 inch piece) cinnamon stick

(Optional, but recommended: 3-4 whole cloves, 2-3 cardamom pods, 1 piece of mace.) 

I use ground spice and just throw it in the pot. If you use the whole spices you have to pick them out of your mouth. I know it’s not authentic but we’re in Milwaukee not Mumbai. If you don’t have mace use nutmeg.

Rinse rice in a colander repeatedly under cold water, until water runs clear. In a sauce pan, take 4 cups of room temperature water, transfer rinsed rice to the pan and let soak for about 15 minutes. After soaking, add the whole spices and ginger, along with 2.5 teaspoons of salt (in the same water). Bring to a boil and let cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Drain completely and set rice aside. This will not cook the rice completely, which is what we want at this point. Do this just before assembling the chicken and rice together, otherwise rice grains will stick together.

To assemble the biryani:

In a heavy bottomed casserole—like 9 inch Le Creuset pot, add a third of a cup of vegetable oil, and once that is warm, layer chicken (including the marinade) on top of oil, cook on medium heat for 4 minutes. Add dry fruit. Layer the semi-cooked rice on top. Do not mix chicken and rice together now. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes on medium low heat. Let sit, off heat, for about 15 minutes and fluff the chicken and rice together. Serve hot with a side of raita.

I’ve got to go now, in the distance I can hear sabers rattling and the clatter of horses hooves.

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