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Chicken Biryani

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Curry wasn’t something which I had experienced a lot of prior to my moving over here to the UK.  My only experience had been a chicken curry that a Mancurian (From Manchester) friend of mine had made for me about 30 years ago when I was living  on a British Military Training Base in Canada.  I remember that it was delicious but very spicy.  She had used a whole bottle of curry powder in it!


The first curry I made after moving over here to the UK was a Chicken Tikka Masala that I learned how to make when I was taking my Chef’s course.  I thought it was really nice, and whilst I can by no means claim to be an expert at the dish of curry, I have been experimenting every since with flavours and textures in the years ever since.


I don’t really like to use jarred sauces and mixes for things like this.  I prefer to start from scratch . . . using fresh spices and pastes and today I made a delicious Chicken Biryani which was quick and simple to make.  I found the recipe in a cookbook I had purchased a long time ago entitled . . .  Good Food, The Family Meal Planner.  It’s a great book for anyone who has a family and is struggling to get an interesting and delicious variety of meals on the table to feed their families.

This was very quick to make and has some lovely fruity flavours and just a bit of heat.  Of course you can adjust the heat by the type of curry paste you choose to use.  I chose to use a Balti, but curry pastes vary widely in strengths and heats.  A Korma would be mild and coconutty, whereas a Madras would blow your hat off.   I quite liked the Balti.   It’s somewhere in between the two.

I love the flavours of cinnamon, bay and cardamom in this dish.   It makes a lot and is quite hearty!  I do like a one pan supper that is quick, simple and easy to make and when it’s delicious as well, then I’d call this a winner!  I love the addition of the toasted almonds on top. Included also  is a tip to make a delicious salad from the leftovers on the day after.


*Chicken Biryani*

Serves 4

A delicious Indian dish for four, cooked in one pan.  You can save 1/3 of it to make a salad the day after.  (See below.)  Adapted from Good Food, The Family Meal Planner. 

300g of basamati rice (10 ounces or scant 1 1/2 cups)

25g butter (scant 2 TBS)

1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 whole bay leaf

3 cardamom pods, bruised (crush lightly with the flat edge of a knife)

1 small cinnamon stick (about 3 inches in length)

1 tsp ground tumeric

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast portions, cut into 1 inch cubes

4 TBS curry paste (I used a Balti)

85g of raisins (9 TBS or scant 2/3 cup)

850ml of chicken stock (29 fluid ounces)

chopped fresh coriander leaves and toasted flaked almonds to serve (chopped cilantro leaves) 

Cover the rice with warm water and leave to soak for 10 minutes.  At the end of that time, drain and rise with cold water until the water runs clear.  Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large skillet (with a tight fitting lid) and add the onion, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods.   Cook on low heat for 10 minutes without browning.  Add the chicken, ground tumeric and curry paste.   Cook and stir until quite fragrant and the chicken has started to turn opague.  Don’t allow to brown or stick.  Add the rice and chicken stock and bring to a hard rolling boil.  Place the lid on tightly and reduce to a slow simmer.   Cook for 5 minutes.  Turn the heat out and allow to stand for 10 minutes.   Stir well, stirring through half of the coriander leaves.  Reserve 1/3 for the salad (see below) and scatter the remaining coriander leaves and toasted almonds over the rest.   Serve hot. 

To make the salad:

(serves 4)

Mix the leftover cold chicken rice with about 2 TBS of mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon juice.   Serve with some sliced baby gem lettuce and sliced cucumber.

Debunking the myths of English Cookery, one recipe at a time.
The English Kitchen


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