Chicken Biryani and Raita

Biryani is a comfort food for me. The flavors are unique and delicious, and the aroma fills up your kitchen like nothing else. It takes time and effort, but is worth it in my book!

8 bone-in skinless chicken thighs (and/or drumsticks)
1.5 c. yogurt
1/8 t. tumeric
1/2 c. olive oil
juice of 2 limes
2 T. ginger garlic paste (or, 2 T. grated or finely minced ginger + garlic)
2 t. cumin powder
2 t. coriander powder
2 t. red chili powder
2 medium onions, thinly sliced and fried until golden brown and crispy
1 large bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch mint, chopped
2.5 c. basmati rice
12 peppercorns
6 cloves
1 star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
4 green cardamom pods
2 T. cumin seeds
pinch saffron
1/4 c. milk
2 green chilies (optional)
salt

Raita (mix the following together):
2 c. yogurt
1/2 t. garlic powder
1/8 t. cumin powder
1 cucumber, grated
salt to taste

1. In a non-reactive bowl, combine the chicken pieces with yogurt, turmeric, coriander powder, cumin powder, chili powder, 1 T. cumin seeds, 1/2 cup chopped mint, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, lime juice, 2 T. salt, 6 peppercorns, ginger garlic paste, 1 c. fried onions, and olive oil. Marinate in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to cook, pull the chicken out to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking.

2. Soak the rice in cold water for 1 hour. This will help the rice cook evenly. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil (at least 6 cups) with the whole spices: 1 T. cumin seeds, star anise, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves, 6 peppercorns, and 3 T. salt.

3. In a heavy bottomed pot large enough to hold the rice and chicken, add the chicken and its marinade in one layer. Press the chicken pieces down in the pot so that they snugly fit and each touching the bottom of the pot. You should ideally use a pot wide enough so that there is just one layer of chicken.

4. Add the saffron to hot milk and let it soak.

5. Once the rice has finished soaking, drain it’s water and add the rice to the pot of boiling water and spices. Let it boil until the rice is half cooked — this will happen very quickly, likely around 3 minutes, so don’t go far!

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6. Once the rice is ready, you will need to act quickly to layer the rice with its whole spices, herbs, and fried onions on top of the chicken. With a slotted spoon, add half of the rice and whole spices (no water!), then sprinkle a handful of the mint and cilantro and a handful of fried onions. Add the remaining rice and spices, and top with the remaining cilantro, mint, and onions. Drizzle with the saffron milk. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid (if you don’t have one, cover the pot with a tea towel, then cover with a lid). Cook on high for 5 minutes, then medium for 20, and low for 15. While it is cooking, do not uncover.

Once it is done, serve with raita, and enjoy!

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