Sunday, August 30, 2009

Chicken Biryani a la Sounok

This recipe is based on what I remember from the most recent Sounoka Palace event (a completely amazing taste-sensation, not to be missed). I have no accurate measurements for anything but it is a pretty wing-able dish. I just made this yesterday but I have yet to take any pictures. The lighting in my apt is really just sub-par. However, I have already eaten several bowlfuls of the biryani. MMMM.

6 or so chicken drumsticks or chicken thighs. if using thighs, remove skins
one pack of sindhi biryani mix from the international grocery store
basmati rice
a few shallots, enough to fill one rice bowl (or slightly larger), chopped
maybe two or three plum tomatoes, chopped
cumin seeds
black mustard seeds
cinnamon stick
bay leaf
maybe 5 cardamom pods, cracked
grated ginger and minced garlic
sliced almonds (or pecan bits if you forgot where you stashed the almonds)
ghee (or a couple of tablespoons of melted butter if you left your ghee in someone else's house)

marinate the chicken in a ziplock bag with yogurt and some portion of the sindhi mix. you can marinate overnight in the fridge or out on the counter for an hour or two.

in a little bowl, pour some milk out and throw some saffron threads in it. maybe 10 threads. i'm not sure if you are supposed to heat this milk or not. i did not.

heat a large quantity of water in dutch oven and toss in a couple of bowlfuls of basmati rice (rinsed and drained) when the water comes to a boil. cook 10 minutes and drain the rice into a colander. give the dutch oven a quick rinse and wipe.

preheat the oven to 350F

in dutch oven, pan fry the chicken in some oil, move to another bowl. wonder whether you should wash the pot as there is now a layer of char on the bottom. however, there is also chicken flavor. decide it's probably ok because nothing smoked. heat a bit more oil and throw in cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, cinnamon, bay leaf and cardamom pods. cook a bit and then add in chopped shallots and tomato. cook quite a long time until the shallots are caramelized-ish and the tomato has broken down completely. it will be emitting lovely smells. turn off the heat.

add the fresh grated ginger and garlic to the shallot/tomato/spice mash. spread around the bottom of the pot. spread a layer of basmatic rice. layer some almonds over the rice. realize you still have lots of sindhi mix and probably should have added this somewhere. sprinkle some over this rice layer. add the chicken pieces. add another layer of rice. realize maybe you should have put yogurt somewhere. so take the remaining yogurt marinade and sprinkle over the rice along with the rest of the sindhi mix. drizzle the melted butter or ghee over the rice. drizzle the saffron milk over.

clap the lid on the dutch oven and stick in oven for about an hour. after this time, take out the dutch oven and mix all the layers.

Update: 1/1/10
I made it again using 1 boneless chicken breast (cut into small cubes) and added a few cubed potatoes. i used 4 rice cups of rice and i think it was a bit too much. next time i'll cut down the rice to 3 rice cups and throw in some cauliflower florets. potatoes were pre-cooked of course.

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