Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Chicken Biryani

I don't think there is anyone who eats chicken and doesn't love chicken biryani.

I love it. I specially fell in love with it when I was working at an Italian restaurant. Well you would be thinking, biryani and Italian, what kind of a combination is that?

All the chefs in the kitchen were Indian and a few were from Nepal. Everyday, the dinner for the people working in the kitchen and service area was made by a Chef assigned for the same purpose. Though the dinner used to be mainly some lentil and rice with a dry vegetable or gravy. Who loves eating that everyday? Well, certainly I did not. I worked with Chef Surendra in the appetizer section. He hailed from South India. At the end of the day we sometimes made something exciting for us just to eat well and end the day happily. Chef Surendra used to make everything so perfect. And he was so humble and so easy going. He always made me learn new things and treated me so well. We three used to have dinner together everyday, I, Surendra Chef and Xavier Chef. Xavier Chef worked in the main section. Now I am not in touch with them but I had a conversation with Xavier chef just a few days ago. Whenever I eat or make chicken I remember those days and the tips of cooking chicken which Surendra Chef used to give me. He was amazing at making all kinds of chicken, prawns and actually everything. Whenever I would see him making something for dinner I would get happy imagining that it would end up on my plate. He always shared. He is a very nice man and I hope to get in touch with him soon. I had not planned but I think this post is kind of a thank you to him. I thank him for his kind nature, humble behavior, patience, ever green smile and simplicity. God make such people in fewer numbers now. I will always remember him. He may not even know that I do but yes I will always remember him.

Oh my god! I am getting so nostalgic. Amazing time it was. It happens with me all the time. Whenever I am cooking or I am in the kitchen I forget about outside things. I am involved, engaged and happy. Nothing bothers me anymore. So in the restaurant as well it was so very different. I never used to think about anything else while working in the kitchen. I just worked, served food and tried to improve.

Chef Surendra, this post and this chicken biryani is dedicated to you. You were my first mentor and I thank you for everything.

This chicken biryani is my own creation and has a special touch of the green cilantro chutney that I have been eating and making since I am like 8-9 years old. I don't eat food with chutney, instead I eat chutney with food. How so very obsessed I am!

I am providing the recipe here for this chutney/sauce which will last you for days though I just used a few table spoons of it for the marinade. But don't worry its a keeper. If you don't like it spicy then you may reduce the number of green chilies. I don't use any red chilly in the chutney. Store and save the chutney in the fridge. You can eat it with sandwiches, chapati, rice and so on.....

Chicken Biryani
Serves 3-4


For the Marinade:
1. 2 chicken legs
2. 4 tbsp cilantro chutney  (recipe below)
3. 1 tbsp tandoor masala (I used store bought, I am about to post a recipe of home made tandoor masala very soon so hold on)
4. 2 tbsp ginger paste
5. 2 tbsp garlic paste

For the Cilantro Chutney:
1. half a bunch of coriander
2. 1 red Onion
3. lime juice - from half lemon (or as per taste)
4. 7-8 green chilies (as per taste and also depends on the bitterness of the chili)
5. 6-7 garlic cloves
6. 2 tbsp ginger paste
7. salt to taste
8. 2-3 tbsp water

For the rice:
1. 300 g basmati rice
2. 2 bayleaves
3. 5 - 6 black peppercorn
4. 3 cloves
5. 3 star anise
6. 4 small pieces of cardamom stick
7. salt to taste
8. 750 ml water

For the gravy:
1. 2 medium size red onion
2. 3 tomatoes
3. 2 green chilly
4. 1 1/2 tsp coriander powder
5. 1/2 tsp cumin powder
6. 1/2 tsp garam masala
7. 1/ 2 tsp red chilly powder
8. 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
9. 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
10. 3-4 tbsp olive oil
11. salt to taste

Also keep a handful of chopped coriander for garnish.

First prepare the chutney and then marinate the chicken. While the chicken is cooking you can do the rest of the preparation i.e. cook rice and make the gravy.

Steps to prepare the green cilantro chutney:
1. Wash and clean the ingredients
2. Coarsely chop and grind in a mixture.

Steps to marinate and cook chicken:
1. Mix the ingredients for the marinade together.
2. Make cuts on the chicken legs and cover properly with the marinade.
3. Keep the marinade for an hour in the fridge.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 degree Celsius.
5. Cook the chicken for 20 minutes. It will get golden brownish in color. If the chicken is well cooked, it will fall off the bone very easily.

Steps to prepare the rice:
1. Soak the rice and whole spices for 5-10 minutes in salt and water.
2. Cover and cook the rice till the water disappears. Rice shall be partially cooked.

Steps to prepare the gravy:
1. Saute the onion in oil.
2. Add ginger paste & garlic paste.
3. Take out some of the onion for garnishing the biryani.
4. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, red chilli powder and salt to the onion.
5. Add the tomatoes & green chilly and cook them properly.
6. Add cooked chicken and garam masala.
7. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Steps to assemble the biryani:
1. Lay a layer of rice in a steam pressure cooker or any utensil with a flat base.
2. Lay a layer of the gravy.
3. Lay another layer of rice.
4. Lay another layer of gravy.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and the onion.
6. Add 50 ml of water.
7. Cook for 5 minutes. Add more water if required.

Serve hot.

The biryani had an amazing taste and some wonderful flavors. The rice soaked with whole spices had an enriched aroma. The chicken was so well soaked in the marinade. You must have noticed the use of ginger and garlic paste a multiple times. Well, that's how much I love ginger and garlic. ;)

Overall an amazing recipe for chicken biryani. Have fun cooking and eating. 

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