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?
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
Garam masala / curry powder
3 bay leaves
Ghee & Oil
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.
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
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
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)
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.
If you feel that your curry is far too watery, remove some of the curry and add more of the spice mixes.
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.
In a sauce pan, melt 2 tbsp of ghee and keep on standby
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.
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.
Firstly, 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…
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
Use the ginger juices and ginger bits to coat the chicken in a bowl and set aside
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.
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
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
Once the chicken is almost cooked, add in the coconut milk and stir in the curry.
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.
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 is my mother’s specialty and thankfully, I have inherited her tiny gift of making the best curry of all time – Prawn Curry! Every time I think about this curry, I salivate. It’s thick, it’s creamy, it’s sour and it’s spicy. The combination of different tastes just works so perfectly well together, I cannot tell you how much I just want to drink it on its own. I have by the way!
Oddly though, this is also the easiest curry to make with hardly any additional spices required apart from curry powder. It’s best to serve this curry with steamed rice, lightly cooked vegetables, maybe a nice masala fried fish and cucumber/onion raita or just plain ol’ yogurt. Or you can also have this with freshly made egg thosai. It’s yum yum yummmm… Do try this recipe and you will thank me for it 🙂
3 tbsp oil of your choice
15~20 prawns shells removed and deveined
1 whole of garlic chopped
1 large onion halved and thinly sliced
1 green chili, halved and seeds removed
1 tomato diced into cubes
4 tbsp of curry powder
1 tbsp of chili powder (optional)
1 can of coconut milk. (If you are using freshly squeezed coconut milk, I say about 1~1 ½ cups. Also, if you are skimming on coconut milk, use 1 cup of evaporated milk instead)
1~2 tbsp of tamarin puree
5~8 curry leaves
3 eggs scrambled and fried till fluffy (Optional, or you can also substitute the fried eggs to boiled eggs as it is equally rewarding. I usually use 1 egg/person)
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a pot and start frying the garlic and then adding the onions
Once onions has softened, add in the prawns, tomato and green chili. Cook till prawns turns lush and pink
Add 2 cups of water, the curry powder and chili powder into the pot. Let this come to a boil
Once the curry is somewhat done, add in the coconut milk, tamarind paste, curry leaves and let the whole thing come to a boil again. If you feel your curry isn’t thick enough, you can add a little bit more of curry powder and evaporated milk
All in all, it will not take you more than 20mins to cook this curry. Add salt to taste and the pre-fried eggs (or boiled ones) into the curry just before turning off the flame.
The final and most important step of all, flood your plate with curry over a serving of steamed rice and shovel it into your mouth.
*This recipe should serve 3~4 people (Not applicable if all of them want to drink the curry though)