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Chicken Biryani
Chicken Biryani pictures (1 of 3)

I’ve been stalking Fork Spoon Knife for a while—a gorgeous food blog authored by Asha which is full of beautiful food photography and excellent recipes. Hailed from India and currently resides in New York City, Asha is pampered by two generations of talented cooks in the family. As such, Asha has a discerning palate and love to cook and entertain friends and family. Please welcome Fork Spoon Knife with her South Indian Chicken Biryani recipe, one of the most requested Indian recipes on Rasa Malaysia. Enjoy!

Biryani is typically a special occasion dish, for many reasons. This dish is particularly known for its many layers of flavors that slowly develop and meld together. So, it’s a multi step process that requires much love in many installments over a long cooking time. Also, those flavors and the aromas from the dish come from a blend of spices that are typically not used in everyday cooking and are pricier, hence adding to the special feel…

The concept of the Biryani came from Persians. When the Mughals conquered Northern India, they introduced much of their cuisine to the populace. As their rule spread further South, most Indian were exposed to the delicacy and it took a firm place in every Indian’s heart. And, then, every region of the country adopted the dish as its own and lent a distintive flavor and taste to it by modifying the ingredients as also the method based on the indigenous cuisine.

Over time, a distintive difference developed between the Biryani as it is served in North India (that is only a slightly modified version of the Persian original) and that in the South, especially, Keral and Tamil Nadu, which, has been significantly modified to suit the Southern Palate. Particularly, in the South, the meat is cooked in a coconut infused curry and the rice and curry are mixed rather than layered, as is typical with the Persian version.

The good thing about the Biryani is that the components can be made ahead and it tastes even better the next day as the flavors have more time to develop.


Chicken Biryani Recipe

For the marinade

6 chicken drumsticks
Small bunch of cilantro, with only the soft stalks
¼ cup mint
2 T ginger and garlic paste
2 tsp ground cumin
1 T cream
Salt as needed

For the Curry

1 large onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2-inch chunk of ginger, minced
1 large bunch of cilantro
½ cup mint
1 cup thick coconut milk
2 cups water/broth
1 T ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 T garam masala
6-7 whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
6-7 whole peppercorns
3 whole star anise
3 dry bay leaves
Salt as needed

For the rice

3 cups Basmati rice
½ small onion, julienned
3 whole cloves
2 cardamom pods, cracked
1 bay leaf
2 T ghee
5 ½ cups of water

For garnish

Handful of cashews, roasted in ghee


Grind together the marinade ingredients. Make slits on the flesh of the drumsticks, coat with the marinade and let rest for a few hours or overnight.

To make the curry, saute the onions, garlic and ginger in oil until translucent. Remove from heat and cool. Grind together the cooked onions, cilantro and mint. In a deep bowl, roast the whole spices in ghee until their aromas are released. Return the onion mixture to the pan and cook until the oil starts seperating. Add the dry spices and salt, mix and saute for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk and water and bring to a boil. Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook on medium until the meat is fully cooked. Let the curry cool until just warm.

Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Roast the whole spices in ghee and the saute the onions in the same. When soft, add the Basmati rice and roast for a few minutes. Add water and salt and cook the rice until just done. Let it cool to warm. Do not touch the rice when hot as they are most brittle then.

When ready to assemble, spread the rice in a deep dish, oven proof pan. A little by little add the curry and gently tossed until it’s just wet. The recipe makes a lot of curry than you need. For 3 cups of raw rice, you will not need more a cup and a half of the curry. Arrange the chicken pieces around the dish, cover with a bit rice, so they don’t dry out. Cover the dish with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Check in between to see if the biryani is drying out. If so, add more curry and gently toss.

To serve, scoop out the rice into a platter, arrange the drumsticks around and sprinkle roasted cashews over. Biryani is typically served with a simple raita made with diced onions in yogurt.

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