Homemade Chicken Briyani, Raita & Curry

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I have never made chicken briyani. It seemed like a complicated cooking process and was pretty much a recipe for failure. Or at least that was the impression I had. Also, having the luxury of buying briyani from a store pampered me all my life and that somehow never motivated me enough to cook it, up until now.

I must say, for a first timer, my briyani turned out to be really good!! I made a small mistake of overcooking the rice a tad bit and underestimating my chicken before I layered them together. Therefore, after combining both the chicken and rice, I had to cook it a little longer till the chicken was thoroughly cooked. Resulting in a slightly mushed rice. But since it tasted good, that small glitch was easily ignored.

Here is my simplified version. And it’s really easy to make. There is a whole load of ghee used in this recipe. If you are looking for a low fat meal, turn back now. And if you are on a diet, screw the diet?

Ingredients

  • Chicken as needed (I used 1/4 chicken, specifically the thigh and drumstick piece per person)
  • 2 cups basmathi rice (for 3 person)
  • 2 onions sliced very thin (I used a slicer)
  • 1 whole garlic chopped fine
  • 1 bunch of coriander chopped fine
  • 20~30 cashew nuts (you can also use raisins but I dont like the sweetness in my briyani)
  • 4 tbsp yogurt
  • 3 green chilis split half and seeds removed
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 2 cinnamon stick
  • 6 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamom
  • Coriander powder
  • Cumin powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Garam masala / curry powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Ground pepper
  • Salt
  • Ghee & Oil
  • Saffron (Optional)

Method

  1. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, most of the garlic and chopped coriander in a bowl. The longer you marinade the meat, the more tender it gets. But because I am impatient and am always cooking on the go, I did this first while preparing the rest of the ingredients. So that’s like just 30mins marination.
  2. In large non stick wok or dipped pan, fry the cashew nuts in 1 tbsp of ghee and 1 tbsp of oil (I used olive oil, but this is a matter of choice). Once the cashew nuts are golden brown, take them out and keep aside
  3. In the same wok, add another tbsp of ghee and oil, fry the thinly sliced onions (only use 3/4 of the onions you have prepared). Fry till the onions caramelize and brown and become slightly crisp. Do not burn. Take them out and keep aside
  4. Using the same wok, fry 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 4 cloves and 4 cardamom (slightly crush them first with the flat side of the knife to open it up) and a pinch of onions (just for flavour). Once the spices have toasted, add the rice and 1/2 tsp turmeric and let the rice take some heat. If you have saffron, this is the time to put it in. Only tossing the rice for a minute on the pan, dish out the rice and spices into a cooking pan and pour in 5 cups of water and 2 tsp salt and cook in medium heat for exactly 5mins and turn off flame. The idea is to get a half cooked rice. Drain the rice immediately. (This is the mistake I made as I let the rice sit in the water and it ended soaking up all the water)
  5. Now for the chicken, fry 2 cloves of chopped garlic, the balance of the onions, cinnamon stick, star anise in the wok. Add in the chilis and tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Let this boil for a while and then add bay leaves, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tbsp cumin powder. This will turn into a thick curry paste. At this point, add in the chicken together with all the marinate into the wok and close the lid. Let the chicken cook 3/4 through which is about 5~10mins. I forgot to mention, add salt…and make it a little saltier than usual as it will need to flavour the rice.
  6. If you feel that your curry is far too watery, remove some of the curry and add more of the spice mixes.
  7. In the same wok, add the drained rice (no need to remove the spices in it) over the chicken & its gravy, layer the top of the rice with the caramelized onions. Close the lid tight to create pressure cooking and let this cook on low to medium heat for 5~10mins till the rice is somewhat cooked.
  8. In a sauce pan, melt 2 tbsp of ghee and keep on standby
  9. When the briyani is ready, add in the cashew nuts and stir the gravy and rice together. Take the melted ghee and pour it all along the edges of the wok. This will create a crisp texture and add more flavour. Close the lid for another couple of minutes. Using your judgment based on how cooked is the rice. You dont want to over cook it or else it becomes mushy.
  10. Alternatively, you can also boil eggs and add into your briyani. To be served with raita. I made cucumber raita which is just grated cucumber with yogurt and salt. As for the curry, as mentioned in step #6, I scooped up 2 spoons of the gravy into another pan, added 1 cup of water and 1 tbsp of curry powder and let it boil till it was the consistency I wanted.
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Ceylonese Style Chicken Curry

ImageFirstly, I apologize for the unappealing picture. You see, as soon as I finished cooking the curry, I just scooped up as much curry as possible on my plate before I devoured every bit of it. And I also had second helpings. Only once my tummy was full, I realized I didn’t take a photograph of the curry. Oopss! So, hurriedly, scooped up whatever curry that was left onto a plate and this is the picture you get. Most of the potatoes and bigger chicken pieces were already gone. Maybe I’ll update this post another time with a better picture. But here is the recipe for one of my favourite chicken curry – the ceylonese style!

It’s the perfect curry for rice or for dunking in your “roti”. It’s yum, creamy and spicy all at the same time. And it’s great for dinner parties as there will be more than enough curry to go around. Or maybe not…

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken cut into 12~16 pieces
  • Handful of ginger bashed in a pestle & mortar (if you don’t have pestle & mortar, fret not, just fine grate the ginger) – save all the ginger juices
  • 2~3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4~5 star anise
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 4~5 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1~2 soft tomato diced
  • 1 whole garlic chopped fine
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2~3 large potatoes skinned and cut into quarters
  • 1~2 chili halved and seeds removed
  • 4~5 curry leaves

Method:

  1. Use the ginger juices and ginger bits to coat the chicken in a bowl and set aside
  2. Toast the cinnamon sticks and star anise in pot with some oil. Once the aroma is released, add in the onions and garlic. Stirring constantly to avoid the garlic to over burn.
  3. Once the onion has caramelized, add in the chili, tomato and 2 cups of water. Add in the curry powder and chili powder and stir in till it becomes a thick paste
  4. Add the chicken together with the ginger and all. Also add in the potatoes. Stir in the curry paste all around the meat and then close the lid to let the chicken start cooking
  5. Once the chicken is almost cooked, add in the coconut milk and stir in the curry.
  6. Let the curry boil till the potatoes are cooked through. Check for salt and add the cumin powder. If needed, add more curry powder or if too thick, add some water. You can adjust this on your own discretion.
  7. At the end, add in the curry leaves and you are ready to serve the curry. I usually let the curry cook for about 30mins on the stove. And the last 10mins, I let it simmer with medium heat with the lid off and hood on. What happens is that the moisture starts to escape from the curry and slowly thickening the gravy. In the end, you will end up with only 3/4 liquid from what you started with.

*This should serve at least 5~6 person

What can you do with Garlic Chives? – The yummiest stir fry!!

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I always had my reservations, don’t ask me why, when it came to garlic chives. I never knew how it would taste and was a little skeptic on how to cook it. I put aside my reservations and am extremely happy that I discovered that garlic chives is not only so yummy, it has officially become my favourite stalk *winks*

Before I started cooking, I kept getting this amazing whiff from the freshly chopped chives. It was making me a little impatient as I wanted to cook and eat the chives so bad!! Anyway, you should not use the very end of the chives. I got rid of the last 3 inches of it which were the least green portion of the chives. Still not sure what I was going to do, I decided to peep into my refrigerator and found regular firm tofu and minced chicken. And I thought…hmm…this could work and I wasn’t wrong. The outcome was phenomenal!! Here is the recipe!

Ingredients:

  • 3 firm regular tofu cut into 8 cubes/each
  • 1 bunch of garlic chives cut into 2.5 inches lengths
  • 200 grams of minced chicken (I’m guessing any meat you have in hand should do the trick)
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp of thick soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • Soy sauce to taste

Method:

  1. I wanted the tofu to be hard and less flimsy when I stir fry. So, I pre-fried them in a pan turning them around each side till they had a nice golden hue on all sides. Once done, I kept aside
  2. Next, I started to saute the garlic in a wok with some oil, before throwing in the minced chicken. Once the chicken was cooked, I splashed in the thick soy sauce, oyster sauce and salty soy sauce and gave it a good stir.
  3. I threw in the chives and tofu into the wok and made sure the sauce was evenly coated on all the tofu cubes. I hardly took 15 minutes to make this dish. (Not to mention I was very impatient at this point)

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This dish is best served with hot and steaming cup of rice. It’s gorgeous!

Image* This should serve 3~4 pax

Low Carb Shepherd’s Pie

Since I am always on a diet, It’s only natural that I venture into cooking some diet food without sacrificing too much on the flavour. And this one is my husband’s favourite. Well, I know what you are thinking, how in the world is sheperd’s pie a diet meal? Well, if you substitute the lamb for a more leaner minced meat like turkey perhaps? And substitute the potatoes for mashed cauliflower instead. Now, isn’t that guilt free? Trust me, it tastes pretty darn good too. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!

You can make this vegetarian by replacing the meat with mushrooms and kidney beans. I’ve tried that and it works just as well.

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Ingredients:

  • 500 g of minced turkey (if you’re not on a diet, hey! you can use lamb you know. Chicken tastes pretty good too)
  • 5~6 cloves of garlic chopped fine
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 cups of mushrooms chopped fine
  • 1 red bell pepper chopped fine
  • 1 red chili chopped fine (optional)
  • 1 can of pasta sauce (my personal fav is the Woolworth’s Arrabiatta sauce)
  • Ground Cayenne pepper for heat
  • Salt
  • 1 whole cauliflower (you can use most of the stalk too) chopped
  • Grated cheddar cheese for topping
  • Italian herbs and parsley

Method:

  1. Boil your cauliflower in a pot with as little water as possible. Once cauliflower is super soft and easy to mash, drain out the water completely before mashing the cauliflower with a masher and add a little salt to taste. Do not use food processor as it will make the cauliflower too mush and soggy. If you feel the cauliflower is has too much water, use a cheese cloth to squeeze out the excess water
  2. In a separate pan, saute the garlic and onions before adding in the minced meat, peppers and mushrooms. Once the meat is cooked, add the pasta sauce, cayenne pepper and italian herbs and parsley. You can turn of the heat now.
  3. On a casserole dish (or if you like, in ramekins) spoon in your filling to 3/4 of the dish’s height.
  4. Top the pie with the mashed cauliflower and then top it with a good layer of grated cheddar cheese.
  5. Now bake your shepherd’s pie in the oven at 180 deg C for 20~25 mins till the cheese is nice and brown. Serve while it’s still hot. Yum!

Tips: If your filling is watery, you will get a soggy pie. So always make sure the filling is not runny. And the cauliflower should be drained really well. It’s hard though since baking releases more moisture from the sauce and cauliflower. But do try your best. 

Mushroom & Bacon Mini Tarts

Trust me, this is easy peasy. I do cheat a little. Because I use ready made puff pastry sheets. But really, it does save me a LOT of time. And in the end of the day, it’s how it tastes that really counts, doesn’t it?

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You’re welcome to substitute the bacon with minced chicken or even make it without meat if you’d like that. It really is a matter of personal preference. Feel free to tweak the recipe as you like. Before you get started make sure you have a non stick muffin pan. I used a 7 x 2.5cm cup size to make this. Personally I feel if the tart is any smaller, you will not be able to savour the filling just as much. And if it’s any bigger than this, it’s no longer a “mini”. Having said that, I’m not going to judge if you make it any bigger or smaller. Maybe, bigger is better? You tell me, ok?

Ingredients:

  • 2~3 puff pastry sheets (1 sheet typically can make 9 tarts for a 2.5cm cup size)
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 whole garlic, chopped fine
  • 2 cups of diced mushrooms
  • 1~2 cups of diced bacon (or any meat of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup of cream (if you want to skim on the cream, you can also use evaporated milk – I did!)
  • 2 tsp of italian mixed herbs (dried)
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper (optional)
  • Grated cheddar cheese (as topping)

Method:

  1. Cut your pastry sheets into 9 squares (it’s ok if your squares are not perfect. I doubt anyone would notice)
  2. Grease your muffin pan before carefully placing your squared sheets into it and lightly molding it into a cup. The corners of the squares will be slightly out of the pan. If the corners are touching the adjacent tart, it means your squares are too big for the pan -resize!
  3. Heat oil in the pan and start by adding garlic and fry till it’s a light golden shade. Add the mushrooms and bacon till they’re almost cooked. Add the cream, salt, mixed herbs and pepper (optional). Turn off the flame as soon as your cream starts to simmer and set your pan aside
  4. In a separate bowl, beat your eggs with salt. The amount of salt you add should be slightly lesser than how much you would normally season it.  Once it’s beaten, add in your creamy mushrooms and bacon into this bowl and mix it well
  5. Probably a good time to turn on the oven now and preheat it at 200 degC
  6. Scoop your creamy eggy mixture into each cup, filling it only almost full this is because filling does rise when you bake. Lastly, top the filling with grated cheddar cheese.
  7. Once you’re done, bake your tarts at 180 degC for 25~30mins till your tarts turn golden brown (or when your kitchen is filled with the baked cheese scent). You can serve the tarts for tea as it is, or with a side of salad as an entree for dinner.

This recipe should give you at least 22~24 tarts