Chicken Biryani

This is not my first time making Chicken Biryani, but it is my first time following the America’s Test Kitchen recipe. I was surprised that none of the spices I bought when we first started making Indian food were included in this. No cumin, turmeric…none! Instead, this recipe was all fancy and included saffron and cardamom seed pods. Well, I did my best with this recipe, but I definitely had to make some changes to have it work in my kitchen. I am providing the recipe below, but in “Fudging Ahead Style”.

Before you get all upset about purchasing saffron, I will say that you do not use very much at all. The amount I got cost about $16, but I only used a tiny piece of it, so maybe a couple dollars worth end up in the dish? Not so bad when you think about how adding cilantro and mint each cost a fair amount. It seems pointless, but I will say that this dish had a lot of flavor. As for the cardamom seed pods, I did not find them initially, so I bought just the seeds in bulk and did a bit of an estimate on how many to throw in. If you can get the actual pods, the recipe says to use 10 of them and grind them with the handle of a cleaver.

Directions for Chicken Biryani

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 6 Tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon, plus 4 more teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 1.5 teaspoons cardamom seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick coins
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used ground seeds instead)
  • 6 cups water
  • About 2 pounds chicken thighs (I did boneless and skinless ones)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Red pepper flakes (as many as you desire)
  • 1.25 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crumbled
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Start by making the yogurt sauce. Mix the yogurt, half of the cilantro, half of the mint, and 1 teaspoon garlic in a small bowl. Keep chilled until ready to eat.

Using a small piece of cheesecloth and twine, wrap the cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, ginger, and cumin seeds (if you’re using those) into a bundle. In a medium saucepan, drop the bundle (I wasn’t using real twine, so I used the lid to hold mine up on the side) into 6 cups of water.

Add some salt to the water, and the ground cumin if you’re using that. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven (or equivalent) that is not too wide across (as close to 8 inches as you can), melt the butter. Saute the onions for about 10-12 minutes until they soften. Then, add in the red pepper flakes and remaining garlic. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove everything to a bowl.

If necessary, add a bit of oil to the pan before placing the chicken in it. Brown the chicken on each side, then put aside on a plate. Remove the skin at this time if yours were not skinless.

When ready for the rice, bring the water back to a boil and add the rice. Cook for about 5 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup liquid from the rice, then throw out the spice bundle. Mix the rice with the raisins and saffron until the rice gets to a splotchy yellow color.

Layer half of the rice on the bottom of the Dutch oven, then half of the onions. Put the chicken thighs on top and sprinkle with the remaining chopped mint and cilantro. Put the rest of the onions on top, then the rest of the rice. Pour the reserved liquid on top.

I only got part of the layering caught on camera because then my battery died. :( But I did get the finished product!

Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 20-30 minutes until the chicken is 175 degrees.

Serve the chicken with the yogurt sauce on top.

Directions for Chicken Biryani without pictures

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 6 Tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 4 Tablespoons chopped mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon, plus 4 more teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 1.5 teaspoons cardamom seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch thick coins
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (I used ground seeds instead)
  • 6 cups water
  • About 2 pounds chicken thighs (I did boneless and skinless ones)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Red pepper flakes (as many as you desire)
  • 1.25 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crumbled
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Start by making the yogurt sauce. Mix the yogurt, half of the cilantro, half of the mint, and 1 teaspoon garlic in a small bowl. Keep chilled until ready to eat.

Using a small piece of cheesecloth and twine, wrap the cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, ginger, and cumin seeds (if you’re using those) into a bundle. In a medium saucepan, drop the bundle (I wasn’t using real twine, so I used the lid to hold mine up on the side) into 6 cups of water. Add some salt to the water, and the ground cumin if you’re using that. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven (or equivalent) that is not too wide across (as close to 8 inches as you can), melt the butter. Saute the onions for about 10-12 minutes until they soften. Then, add in the red pepper flakes and remaining garlic. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove everything to a bowl. If necessary, add a bit of oil to the pan before placing the chicken in it. Brown the chicken on each side, then put aside on a plate. Remove the skin at this time if yours were not skinless.

When ready for the rice, bring the water back to a boil and add the rice. Cook for about 5 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup liquid from the rice, then throw out the spice bundle. Mix the rice with the raisins and saffron until the rice gets to a splotchy yellow color. Layer half of the rice on the bottom of the Dutch oven, then half of the onions. Put the chicken thighs on top and sprinkle with the remaining chopped mint and cilantro. Put the rest of the onions on top, then the rest of the rice. Pour the reserved liquid on top. Cover and cook over medium-low heat for about 20-30 minutes until the chicken is 175 degrees.

Serve the chicken with the yogurt sauce on top.

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