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Greg's chicken biriani
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It's surprising how few recipes I can find for Biriani, and how much the individual recipes I have vary. I can discount the Malay versions, I think; it's not really a Malay dish, and the Malay Beryani (sic) tastes very different. Finally made a recipe from Charmaine Solomon's “Complete Asian Cookbook”. Some of these recipes leave me with the impression that they have never been accurately quantified, and this one had an ingredient (potatoes) that got cooked and forgotten about. My interpretation diverged a bit, with good reason as it turned out. I made it on 13 December 2002 with the same ingredients but significantly different quantities. Then I didn't make it for over 14 years. This is what I made out of it on 4 February 2017.

Ingredients

quantity       ingredient       step
250 g       Basmati rice       1
25 g       ghee       2
150       onion       2
10 g       garlic       2
10 g       ginger       2
1.5 g       black pepper       3
4 g       cumminseed       3
120 g       diced canned tomatoes (half 400 g can)       4
25 ml       yoghurt       4
20 g       methi leaves       4
1 g       cardamom seeds (not pods)       4
1 g       cinnamon stick       4
4 g       salt       4
500 g       boned chicken thighs       5
15 g       ghee       6
75 g       onion       6
1 g       saffron strands       7
1 g       cardamom seeds (not pods)       7
0.2 g (3)       cloves, whole       7
0.5 g       cinnamon stick       7
4 g       salt       7
350 ml       strong chicken stock       7
15 g       flaked almonds       8
25 g       dried sultanas       8

Preparation

  1. Wash the rice and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. Purée onion and garlic, finely chop ginger. Fry the onion in ghee until it starts to dry out, then add garlic and ginger and fry until the fat separates. Don't clean the mincer yet, you'll need it again later.
  3. Grind the spices finely and add to the onion mixture. Continue frying until they smell cooked, a couple of minutes.
  4. Purée the tomatoes, then add with the remaining spices and cook until about half the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is about as thick as cream.
  5. While the liquid is reducing, chop the thighs into portion sized pieces, about eight per thigh. Add to the sauce, mix in and cook for about 30 minutes. The meat will give off quite a bit of liquid; cook strongly enough to ensure that the remaining sauce is creamy.
  6. Mince the onion as before and fry in ghee until the fat separates and it's barely starting to go brown.
  7. Add the rice to the onion mixture over medium heat and cover on all sides.
  8. Add the spices and stir well. Initially the water level should be about one-third as high again as the rice. Cook until the water level is the same as the rice level, then turn heat down low, cover and cook for a further 2 minutes. Turn heat off and wait for a total of 20 minutes since covering the pot.

    Put about 2 litres of water in an oven tray and turn heat on to about 180°. When the rice has finished cooking, place it in a serving dish and gently stir in the chicken and gravy. The rice should be quite moist. Place in the oven to steam for ten minutes.

  9. While the rice is steaming, fry the almonds and sultanas in ghee individually over low heat. When the rice is ready, garnish.

Serve with chutneys and raita.


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