Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani

`Most biryanis take time to prepare and cook, but the result is well worth the little extra trouble. My biryanis are not, I must add, authentically Indian; they have been influenced by Indonesian

attitudes and techniques. This chicken biryani is a quick version, but delicious for all that,' says cookbook author Sri Owen.

7 -1/2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 to 1-1/4 cups Texmati or Basmati rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 shallots, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger root

4 boneless, skinned chicken breast fillets sliced diagonally into very thin slices

1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch of ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 teaspoon sugar

3 tablespoons raisins

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Garnish:

1 tablespoon fried shallots

2 tablespoons ground almonds

Rinse the rice and drain. Boil the water in a large saucepan. Add salt and the rice, a little at a time so that the water stays on the boil. Stir the rice once and keep the water at a rolling boil for 8 minutes. Drain the rice in a colander and set aside.

In another large saucepan, or a casserole with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil, and fry the shallots, garlic, and ginger root for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the chicken slices. Increase the heat and stir-fry the chicken for 3 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, and turmeric. Stir again for a few seconds, add the yogurt, and continue stirring for 1 minute. Add the sugar and raisins, stir, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the rice on top of the chicken and sauce.

Cover the saucepan or casserole with aluminum foil and put the lid on tightly. Lower the heat and leave it to cook undisturbed for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it rest, undisturbed with the cover on, for 5 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle the garnishes over the dish, and serve with freshly cooked beans or okra. Serves 4.

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