My co-worker Maria is a Portuguese woman who hails from Goa, India who until recently was living in London. As such, she has quite the “cosmopolitan” taste in food. Some time ago, she brought me a Biryani spice blend to make with rice and chicken. I have to admit that I avoided it for a while, because I was afraid it would be too difficult, as I have heard that biryani is a very complex meal to make. Earlier this week, however, Maria and I were discussing our dinner plans and my thoughts turned to the biryani spice blend. She assured me that it was quite simple and that I should give it a go. The result was utterly spectacular and I can’t wait to make it again. This is not exactly what you might get in a proper Indian kitchen. I altered the recipe with some non-traditional items to suit the ready available ingredients I had on hand, (as well as my own taste) but I believe there was no disparity in the quality of the dish. Here is what I did.
"Frightless" Chicken Biryani
2 TBSP Olive Oil
½ Chopped Onion
2 Medium Chicken Breasts cubed
5-6 Yukon Gold Potatoes cut into quarters
1 TBSP Fresh grated Ginger
2 Cloves Garlic
6 TBSP Garam Masala or Biryani Spice Blend*
1 Cup Plain Yogurt
1 Cup Water
2 Medium Tomatoes cut into wedges
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 Chiles sliced thin (Optional)
2 cups cooked Basmati Rice
In a large sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat and sweat the chopped onions. Add the chicken and potatoes and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic and spice blend and toast the spices a bit before adding the yogurt and water. At this point, reduce the heat and cover, let the dish simmer until the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are fork tender, approximately 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the sour cream to help thicken the broth. Serve over cooked Basmati rice and top with cilantro and sliced chiles.
Traditionally, you would serve this dish with Naan, or even pita, but since I had neither, I heated up some corn tortillas instead. Not traditional but it sure was tasty. If you need a little help "putting out the fire in your mouth" try a little Raita as a condiment on the side (Recipe follows).
*Garam Masala and Biryani spice blends are not available in most supermarkets. You can purchase Biryani spice blends over the internet or in a specialty market.
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ chopped cucumber
2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix well and serve chilled.