Chicken Biryani

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It’s funny how you can forget about certain recipes, even when they’re fabulous. But I had forgotten about an Indian recipe called biryani until I came across egg biryani on a blog, which sadly I can’t locate to share.

So I dug out an old standby Indian cookbook to check out my recipe from way back when. Although I have newer, more well-known Indian cookbooks, this is one cookbook I still refer to on occasion because these tried-and-true recipes can’t be beat.

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Chicken biryani is a lovely combination of spiced rice and chicken. The wonderful thing about a biryani is that you can use leftover chicken. Heck, you can use leftover rice also. Here is a photo from the recipe page from that cookbook.
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According to the author, Khalid Aziz, “When the great Mogul emperors wanted to put on a really lavish feast, great plates of Biryani, sometimes requiring two people to carry them, would be the centerpiece of the feast.”

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So even though this Indian dish utilizes leftovers, it’s still a dish of emperors!

Chicken Biryani
Murgh Biryani

1 pound chicken leftovers*
8 ounces Basmati rice (I used brown Basmati)
1 pint chicken stock
1 small onion
2 ounces ghee
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces sultanas
2 ounces blanched almonds
Orange food coloring, optional
2 hard-boiled eggs, optional
2 tomatoes, optional
1 green pepper, optional

Here is what the author says about the chicken: Separate the chicken meat from any bones and remove any fat or skin. Break the chicken up into fairly large chunks; I say break rather than cut – the idea is that the pieces should be large enough to still be recognizable as chicken by the time the cooking process is over.
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I don’t think I’ve ever read such a detailed description before, but I get it!

Wash the rice well and drain. Put it in a saucepan and pour over the chicken stock, leaving to one side 2 tablespoons of stock for use later.
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Boil the rice for about 20 minutes until it is al dente. (This will really depend on what kind of rice you use, so make sure it’s cooked before you follow through with this dish.)

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion thinly. Fry it gently in the ghee in a large frying pan. Peel and slice the garlic and add that to the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes or so.
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Now add the spices – the chilli powder, cumin, garam masala and salt – and stir in well.


Add the chicken to the curry sauce and stir well so that it is well coated. Now pour in the remaining chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer.

The next stage involves combining the rice with the chicken and the sultanas and almonds. Once the two are combined, add a little orange food coloring to turn the whole mixture a bright orange. (I did not do this.)

Place the Biryani on a large dish.

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Garnish with slices of hard boiled egg, tomato and green pepper.

Serve immediately.

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As you can well imagine, biryani reheats well in the microwave or on the stove with a little bit of broth.
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* Alternatively, you could always buy a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have leftovers.

Mughlai Kabobs

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Yesterday I made a creamy sauce called sas, made with pistachios, cashews, and almonds. And today I’m making curried lamb kabobs that go perfectly with the sauce.

From Indian Food Forever, a website devoted to Indian recipes, “Mughlai food is known for its richness. It is famous for the exotic use of spices, dried fruit and nuts. The Mughals did everything in style and splendour.”

These kabobs are so easy to make – it’s as simple as putting a meat loaf together, and forming elongated meatballs over skewers! If you don’t want to mess with the skewers, just make them meatballs!

Mughlai Kabobs

1 pound of ground lamb, I used a mixture of beef and lamb*
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/4 cup ground chick-pea flour, or besan
1/3 cup sliced almonds, pulverized in a blender
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1/2 lemon, juiced
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons garam masala or curry powder
2 teaspoons salt

In a very large bowl, add all of the ingredients.

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Mix everything together well. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes for the flavors to meld.

After time has passed, create the kabobs by forming the dough over the end of your skewers – I’m using bamboo skewers. I didn’t soak them because they really weren’t going to be over direct heat. Try to make the meat cylinders of uniform thickness so they will cook evenly.

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Meanwhile, start up a grill outside. You could also cook the kabobs inside under the broiler, but I used these kabobs as an excuse to try out a Cuisinart indoor-outdoor electric grill that I bought but have never used…. yet.

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So I plugged the “griddler,” as it’s called, outside in the shade. Then I turned the dial to the highest position, which is 400 degrees. Then I put the kabobs on and really, nothing happened. Then I realized that the plug wasn’t pushed in all the way, but after another 15 minutes or so, still nothing was happening.

Then lo and behold, I discovered I was using the dial incorrectly. Inadvertently, when I thought the dial was on 400 degrees, I had turned it to OFF.

I have wasted more time in my life with dials. Especially in hotel bathrooms where I can’t figure out which way to point the shower dial. There’s always a pointy thing, or a lever of sorts, but there’s never a corresponding line to match up with. I wish I could design these things. Although, I might be the only person who has this problem.

And so, I started up the griddler again, this time with the dial actually on 400 degrees. And it actually heated up really fast.
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I cooked the kabobs on three sides, then turned down the temperature to 350 degrees, put the lid on, and finished them for another 15 minutes. I wanted them still a little teeny pink on the inside.

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Then I served them just off the grill, with some of the beautiful creamy nut sauce, and a curried spinach and mushroom side dish. Scrumptious!!!!!

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* Because my husband thinks he doesn’t like lamb, I used the mixture of beef and lamb.

verdict: I’ve made these and the sauce before, and I will continue to make these throughout my life. This is fabulous Indian food fit for a fancy meal or a pool party!