So Mona, our neighbourhood kitchen goddess, sent me a recipe for easy biriyani. I've made it twice so far and yesterday I changed the recipe a little to suit available ingredients. Both times it tasted fab.
No, I have no photos so stop scrolling down already. This is how I made it:
Chicken -- 500 gm, cut
Onions -- 3 medium size
Green Chilly -- 1 (fresh or pickled)
Dhaniya (coriander/cilantro) -- generous handful of fresh leaves
(these three are to be ground into a coarse paste)
*Mona used lots of pudina (mint) leaves too in the paste, which tasted great, but I had none at home yesterday and the recipe was equally tasty, in a different way.
Ginger-garlic paste -- 1 heaped tbsp
Yoghurt -- 1 cup (150 grams or so though more doesn't hurt)
Garam masala whole, to taste (i.e. whole cloves, cardamom and sticks of cinnamon)
Lemon juice -- of 1 lemon
Shahjeera whole -- 1/4 tsp
Nice rice, either basmati or jeerakati or some such long-grained variety -- 2 cups
Salt -- 1 tsp per cup, maybe a little more (better less than more, though)
Lemon juice -- of 1 lemon
Potatoes -- small ones; to be used either whole or in halves. aim for one piece per pc of chicken (I love biriyani potatoes)
Onion -- 1 medium size, finely chopped
Saffron -- teeny pinch, soaked in warm milk/water
Ghee -- as much as you can afford. Or do it all with fresh veg. oil
1. Make the onion-mint-chilly paste. Wash chicken and leave to marinate in a glass dish. I have been known to cheat on marinating by popping the meat-marinade combo in the microwave for a minute or two and leaving it in with the door closed after the cooking time is over. (15 min)
If nothing else, this clears counter-top space.
2. Peel potatoes and cut in half if too big. Heat a little ghee (or oil or oil-ghee combo) in a kadai and shallow fry the tatties slowly until nicely browned and mostly fried. (If you want to check softness when done, poke a fork into one. This'll help you decide on cooking time later.) Set aside the fried potatoes. (10 min)
3. Slowly shallow fry the chopped onions until nice and brown. Set aside. (10 min)
4. Wash rice, set to cook. I do it in a dekchi so that I can control it entirely but the choice of cooking vessel is yours. Add salt, the lemon juice and a bit of ghee for smell. Cook till grains are al dente i.e. almost cooked but still feel a little hard when crushed between thumb and forefinger. Drain, leave uncovered to cool. (20 min approx, depending on rice)
5. While rice cooks, heat a little oil/ghee/combo of both in the kadai. Empty the chicken+marinade into this, toss. Add potatoes, make sure the gravy coats them well and cover. Simmer for at least 20 min
*Mona said the chicken should turn brown but mine doesn't. It browns later when cooked with the rice.
6. When the chicken is tender and potatoes are soft, take off stove.
7. In a glass (lidded) microwave baking dish layer rice and meat, meat at bottom and rice on top. Do as many layers as your dish will hold. Poke holes with the handle of a wooden ladle and pour the saffron mix sparingly through. Decorate with fried onions on top.
I usually prepare two such dishes and cook one after the other, since I have a small microwave and it doesn't hold very big dishes.
8. Microwave each dish for between 8-10 minutes and once done, leave for another 5 min.
Bring out your fancy chinaware and enjoy!
*I've put in the timing for some of the steps to help you plan. My own cooking time is always severely limited so I like to know just how much time to spend on each step. This recipe takes you a bit over an hour if you do things slowly, and you should be done, from chopping onions to washing utensils, in about 90 min, if you're not very slow. But the first time, you might want to take it very slow and make sure every thing looks just right.