Saturday, 10 October 2015

Globecooking recipe : Chicken Biryani (Sri Lanka)

When I saw that one of the recipes in the Sri Lankan Kitchen Trotter box was for Chicken Biryani, I was initially disppointed because it's a dish that we're already familiar with at The Madhouse. However, I soon realised that I'd never made one from scratch before, only using a jar or pouch of shop-bought sauce, so it would be interesting to compare. Well, it wasn't bad but I found it a bit dry and bland. I was surprised to see that the actual main dish had no spices in it at all - the only slight kick came from the curry roasted nuts served on top. The grown-ups would have preferred a spicier dish but making it this way does mean that the kids can also enjoy the dish, leaving off the curry topping altogether.

Chicken Biryani

ingredients :

250g basmati rice
4 chicken breasts
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 green pepper
5 cardamom pods
a pinch of saffron filaments
10g dried tamarind
1tbsp black curry powder
1tsp ginger (powder or fresh)
1/2tbsp vinegar
30g butter
1 chicken stock cube
4tbsp flaked almonds
2tbsp crushed pistachios

Chop the onions and garlic. Put the dried tamarind in 50ml of boiling water to soak for 15 minutes then squeeze as much juice and pulp through a sieve as possible. (For step by step instructions on using dried tamarind, check out my recipe for Kadai Chicken.) Split the cardamom pods in half and scrape out the seeds. 

Dice the chicken and green peppers. Melt the butter in a large pan and toss in the cardamom seeds. Cook for one minute then add the onions, garlic, ginger and green pepper.

Add the chicken, brown for a few minutes, then toss in the saffron, tamarind and vinegar. Stir it all up then add the rice and 600ml of chicken stock.

Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for 10-15 minutes then check the rice - it should be al dente. Turn off the heat and leave, with the lid still on, for a further five minutes.

Meanwhile, put the flaked almonds (I used whole almonds crushed with a rolling pin) in a dry frying pan with the black curry powder and roast them for a couple of minutes until the aromas start wafting around the kitchen. Pour into a bowl and add the pistachios.

Use a fork to fluff up the rice slightly. Taste to see if it needs extra salt. (I added a shake of chilli lime seasoning and smoked paprika at this stage to liven it up a bit, but there was enough salt from the stock cube.) Serve the biryani and sprinkle with the spicy nut mixture.

As it's a little dry, it would be lovely to serve this with a moist side dish such as coconut chutney or raita.

*** Don't miss my country-by-country globecooking recipe index ! ***

If you fancy trying some more Sri Lankan cuisine, how about Kadai Chicken, Egg Hoppers or Crispy Medu Vada-style Lentil Fritters ?

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  1. I love Biryani; but it is so different at the Indian Restaurants than what I have eaten in Africa.

    1. I bet ! I was watching a TV show about Gordon Ramsay travelling/cooking in India and he said the same thing !

  2. I've been looking for a biryani recipe and this sounds perfect, thank you for sharing