This simple dish tastes like ultimate comfort to me. For those of you not keen on spicy food- this one is excellent; delicately flavoured Indian chicken and rice with none of the bite (unless you add those optional chili pequins like I do, then it had a nice little hum of heat).
When I was first born, my parents lived in a small apartment in Victoria, BC, close to Victoria General Hospital. At this time, my dad was working long hours as an articling student at a local law firm and my mum was trying to get me to sleep for more than 20 minutes at a time. Both of them were teetering on complete exhaustion for about a year.
They eventually found kindred spirits in the apartment next door- a young Indian family with a small child of their own. The next door neighbours, Tuan and Rita, were both residents at the hospital close by (talk about exhaustion!) and Rita was just finishing up her maternity leave before heading back to work. During the long days when the Dads were off, my mum would hang out next door to keep me- if not asleep- at least occupied, with their young daughter.
My mum speaks fondly of Rita’s help and companionship during those tiring days. Aside from giving her a shoulder to cry/sleep on, Rita helped my first-time-mother navigate the ups and downs of dealing with a particularly fussy newborn (sorry, Mum). Heck, she even got me to sleep! (“What do you mean you just stroke her head gently? That’s all it takes???”)
Months later, with me now sleeping for up to 4 hour chunks at a time (hey, it was still an improvement), both families were ready to move on to bigger homes. As they packed up their belongings, Rita made a biryani very similar to this for the two families and it was the first ‘from the table’ solid food I consumed in my life. I love it to this day.
|Chicken Biryani|| |
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 pinch turmeric
- 1 pinch saffron
- ½ - ¾ cup plain yogurt
- ½ tsp salt
- 1½ cups Basmati rice
- 6 pieces chicken*
- 6 whole green cardamom
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 whole cloves
- 2-3 whole chili pequins (optional, skip for very mild)
- 3 slices, thinly sliced fresh ginger
- Rinse Basmati rice well then soak for 30 minutes. Bring some water to a boil then add soaked rice and cook for 1 minute. Drain and stir in turmeric and saffron. Set aside.
- Over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic, onion and masala ingredients. Cook for 3 minutes then add chicken. Brown chicken until partially cooked through.
- Remove slices of ginger. Add yogurt and mix well.
- Add rice to chicken mixture then add ⅛ cup water.Cover and simmer on low heat for 1½ hours.
- Before serving, add a quick sprinkle of rosewater.