making food from anywhere, with anything

saffron, turmeric, and garam masala…ohhh man.

Happy Monday, and happy February, everyone.

On tonight’s menu: Chicken Biryani.

For those that just said, “chicken whaaaat?” allow me to explain.  Every culture has its staple meat and rice dish, whether it’s paella, jumbalaya, or well, biryani.

chicken biryani

Chicken biryani is a prolific chicken and rice dish that can be found in some form from Iran to Malaysia.  However, it is most commonly associated with India.  A simple blend of spices, garlic and onions make this dish exactly what it is: delicious.  It’s comforting, it’s classic, and it’s prized.

As with  most staple dishes, everyone cooks it differently.  I cannot remember where I got this recipe from, so if it’s not very traditional or authentic, I apologize in advance.  This dish takes patience, but your efforts will surely be rewarded.  Inspiration for this dish was taken from here.


For the chicken:

4-5 chicken thighs

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ginger powder

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp oil

For the rice:

3 quarts water

1 tsp salt

10 cardamom pods crushed

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp cumin

1 bay leaf

2 cups basmati rice

For the onion mixture:

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 serrano chiles, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ginger powder

1/4 tsp salt

For the presentation:

saffron, some mint & cilantro


Before you begin, add some saffron to some hot water.  Let it soak until you use it.

1. For the chicken: mash the garlic, salt, ginger, garam masala, pepper, and oil into a paste.  Coat the chicken pieces with it.  You may find you need more of this mix for your chicken.

2.  In a deep pot, add water, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, and the bay leaf.  Cover, bring to simmer on medium-low heat.

3. Heat a large pan over medium-high. Add some oil, then add the chicken.  Sautee until brown (about 3 minutes), then flip to brown the other side.

4.  Transfer the chicken to a plate, and turn the heat down to medium-low.  Add the onions and sautee until they are a dark brown.  Then, add the chiles, garlic, garam masala, ginger, and salt.  Cook until fragrant.  Remove from heat, set aside.

5.  Turn the heat for the water up and bring to a boil.  Add the rice and cook for 5 minutes.  Drain reserving 1-1 1/2 cups of the liquid.

6.  Put half of the rice into a large pot.  Sprinkle some of the saffron water over the rice.  Add some mint and cilantro here, too.  Spread half the onion mix over this, and put the chicken on top of that.  Cover this with the rest of the rice, then the rest of the onions.  Top with the rest of the mint, cilantro, saffron.  Pour some of your reserved liquid over top as well.

7.  Cover and cook for 30-45 minutes.

It comes out wonderfully, trust me.  This recipe is, of course, for 4 people.  I altered it to fit it for 2 people, but no alterations are worth noting as I followed the recipe pretty exactly.  As you can see, I did not have basmati rice (which I wasn’t happy about, but oh well).  I added some turmeric when I was sprinkling the saffron water on the rice.  I think it adds another level of flavor, plus it kicks the yellow color up.

So, three great days of cooking in a row.  It cannot be!  Usually an unsatisfying recipe gets in the way.  I’ll be taking the next two nights off from cooking, but Thursday I’ll be back with a good pasta dish.

Until Thursday –


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