Last weekend made a chicken breyani. A traditional ROYAL DISH served for most Indian functions or any special occasion. I want to share my recipe of how I prepare this dish although there are many recipe variations!
2kg chicken pieces,skinned and portioned (note chicken pieces shrink, so allow for chunky pieces and not very small pieces)
2 tablespoon Kashmiri Chilli powder (adjust depends how hot or mild you prefer)
1 tablespoon turmeric, gara masala mix or any store-bought powdered breyani mix.
1 cup vinegar mixed with half cup milk or a cup of just plain yoghurt.
Milk and vinegar curdles like yoghurt so I prefer that option and it’s useful when you DON’T have yoghurt available too.
Leave to stand in a cup to curdle slightly.
Salt as required
Tablespoon of crushed ginger and garlic paste
Egg yellow powder or liquid to colour chicken pieces (you can get it at Indian spice stores)
1 cup grated tomatoes
Wash and drain chicken pieces in colander.
Sprinkle egg yellow powder first on to chicken to give it a lovely colour and then mix with all other ingredients.
Lastly add in your plain yoghurt or curdled mixture of milk and vinegar mix.
Mix well and marinade preferably overnight.
4 cups rice
Few sticks of cinnamon and bay leaves
Salt as required
A pinch of turmeric
Boil all of the above together until fully or three-quarter cooked.
Rice must be grainy but still soft.
Drain in colander. Set aside.
Tint with egg yellow powder over it.
It must be tones of light and dark orange/yellow contrasts.
1 to 1½ cup lentils (Masoor) (you can reduce as some don’t prefer a lot of lentils)
Pinch of turmeric
Salt as required
Clean and wash lentils removing any stones or dirt.
Boil lentils (Masoor) in enough water with a pinch of turmeric and salt.
Must be soft but still firm. Drain and set aside.
Potatoes and Onion
8-10 chunky pieces of potatoes (coloured with egg yellow) (can adjust we prefer more)
A pinch of salt
Enough Oil for deep-frying (reserve left over oil for chicken marinade mixture)
2 large onions peeled and chopped
In a large deep base flat pot, fry coloured potatoes with salt until it’s cooked and is a lovely golden colour.
Drain and set aside for layering later.
In the same oil fry onions until golden brown and set aside.
With the left over oil (should be 1/4 cup oil). (You can adjust oil quantities), from frying potatoes and onions, with 3 tablespoons of margarine or butter, fry a few stems of curry leaves, cinnamon, green elachi (cardamom), ½ teaspoon each of jeera seeds (cumin), soomph seeds (fennel), a few bay leaves.
Add in your marinated chicken mixture followed by fresh mint, coriander (dhania) and fresh thyme (few sprigs each) and cook chicken with its own water on moderate heat until water is dried up and masala is a thick gravy with oil floating on surface.
Chicken cooks fast. If you find water is already dried up too quickly and chicken meat is not very well cooked and still looking pinkish, then just add enough water until chicken cooks through.
In another oven proof flat casserole, spray non stick cooking spray on casserole.
Layer a portion of rice and lentils, followed by the chicken mixture, rest of lentils and ½ portion of fried onions and fried potatoes, then with the rest of the rice and ending it with the balance of fried onions.
Pour quarter cup water or mixed up with a few saffron strands soaked in hot water (optional) over rice .
Place a foil over the casserole so rice don’t dry up on surface and get brittle when heat exposed.
Place in a pre heated oven of 180C degrees.
Steam cook for another 45 min until moisture is dried out (oven temperatures vary, and the same applies to the cooking times)
Garnish with more coriander.
Serve straight from oven to table.
It looks way neater when presented this way.
Serve with a traditional carrot salad soaked in vinegar and Raita (yogurt and mint).
Few washed and grated carrots (6 medium carrots)
Small onions chopped
1 green chilli (optional, if it’s too pungent)
A few curry leaves chopped (optional), I prefer it as it makes the salad tastier
A few shreds of lettuce
Salt and vinegar
Mix all of the above together.
NOTE all quantity can be adjusted, just depending on how many servings you are preparing for.
Raita (Yoghurt and mint)
1 cup plain yoghurt
Less than a 1/4 cup grated cucumber (you just need a little to add in)
1 bunch mint and coriander (dhania) leaves, washed and chopped (if
no blender use pestle and mortar to crush into paste )
A few green chillies.
Blend all the green ingredients into a paste with some water (It will look like a green sauce). Mix into the plain yoghurt.
Add salt as required.
Stir in the grated cucumber.
Garnish with a few sprigs of coriander leaves or red chilli garnish.
Prepared, tried and tested by: Sandy Harrod