I had my fill of Middle-Eastern dishes when I worked in Abu Dhabi, UAE, and once in a while I tend to crave for some of the dishes, of which Chicken Biryani happens to be my favorite. I found it inconvenient to go all the way to Makati just to find a good restaurant that serves authentic Biryani, hence I searched and tested all the recipes available in the internet and found this one to be very much like the ones I had in Abu Dhabi. Feeling adventurous? I dare you to go ahead and prepare one for yourself Happy eating! (Note: all the spices are available locally in the large supermarkets, Indian groceries or spice stores)
2 tablespoons and 3/4 teaspoon canola oil
2-1/4 small potatoes, peeled and halved
1-1/8 large onions, finely chopped
1-1/8 cloves garlic, minced
1-3/4 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/8 medium tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon plain yoghurt (optional)
1 tablespoon and 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh mint leaves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (if whole cardamoms are available use 3-4 pods)
5/8 (2 inch) piece cinnamon stick
1-3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken pieces cut into chunks (or 1/2 kg chicken cut-ups)
1 tablespoon and 1-1/4 teaspoons canola oil
5/8 large onion, diced
5/8 pinch powdered saffron (or use the local kasubha for a more budget-friendly dish)
2-3/4 pods cardamom
1-3/4 whole cloves
5/8 (1 inch) piece cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (or use finely minced ginger)
1-1/2 cup basmati rice (or use any local long-grain or “dinorado” rice)
3 cups hot chicken stock (or hot water with 2 pieces chicken cubes)
3/4 teaspoon salt
In a large skillet, fry potatoes in 2 tablespoons canola oil until brown, drain and reserve the potatoes. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the skillet and fry onion, garlic and ginger until onion is soft and golden. Add chili, pepper, turmeric, cumin, salt and the tomatoes. Fry, stirring constantly for 5 minutes. Add yogurt, mint, cardamom and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes are cooked to a pulp. It may be necessary to add a little hot water if the mixture becomes too dry and starts to stick to the pan.
When the mixture is thick and smooth, add the chicken pieces and stir well to coat them with the spice mixture. Cover and cook over very low heat until the chicken is tender, approximately 35 to 45 minutes. There should only be a little very thick gravy left when chicken is finished cooking. If necessary cook uncovered for a few minutes to reduce the gravy. Set aside.
Wash rice well and set aside.
In a medium-sized pot, heat oil and fry the onions until they are golden. Add saffron, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, ginger and rice. Stir continuously until the rice is coated with the spices. Add chicken stock and stir well. Add the chicken and gravy mixture, and the potatoes; gently mix them into the rice. Cook as you would normally cook rice. Do not lift lid or stir while cooking. Spoon biryani onto a warm serving dish.
Note: if you are used to cooking rice in a rice cooker, prepare everything as recommended. However, instead of cooking the rice-chicken mixture in a stove top pot, transfer everything in the rice cooker pot and cook as usual.