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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Roasted Chicken and Potatoes

After being marinated, bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces get a quick crisp on the stove top, and then a nice roast in the oven with creamer potatoes — all in the same fry pan! The result is juicy, flavorful chicken and creamy potatoes.

Enough bone-in skin-on chicken pieces to line your fry pan or skillet, washed (I use 2 large chicken breasts and 3 drumsticks for a 10″ oven-safe fry pan)
10-15 baby red (creamer) potatoes, skins on
3 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh chopped garlic
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 cubes (optional)
2 sprigs rosemary (optional)
Salt
Black Pepper

1. Place clean chicken in a non-reactive bowl and season all sides with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and add chopped garlic and lemon juice. Let marinate in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours, turning once.

2. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

3. On medium high heat, warm a dry frying pan or skillet until hot. This may take a few minutes, depending on the type of pan you have. It is best to use an oven-safe pan or skillet that will sear the meat, such as stainless steel or cast iron — not a non-stick pan.

4. Take chicken pieces from the marinade and place them straight onto the dry, hot pan on the stove, skin side down. Do not touch! Let chicken cook in pan for 5-10 minutes until skin is golden brown and firm.

5. While the chicken is cooking on the stove, cut potatoes into 1″ to 2″ pieces (this means into halves or quarters, depending on how big your baby potatoes are. Season them with salt as needed and toss with olive oil.

6. After the chicken is done searing, remove the pan from stove, and flip the pieces over, skin-side up. Then scatter all of the potatoes in the pan. The arrangement does not matter, but as a tip, if you are using drumsticks or thighs, place them on top of the potatoes.

7. Add the butter and rosemary to the pan. Cook in oven until the breast has reached 165 degrees – depending on the size of the breast, this will take anywhere from 15-25 minutes. The skin will be brown.

8. If the darker meat is not yet ready, take out the breasts and leave the other pieces in with the potatoes until done. If the potatoes need more time, leave them in while the chicken rests. Always let your chicken rest and slightly cool before serving so the juices don’t run when cut.

9. There should be delicious juice in your pan. You can serve the juice atop the chicken or separately. You can also deglaze the pan with some white wine. After everything is done, pour white wine into your pan, about half a cup. On medium heat, scrape up any chicken bits from the pan with a wooden spoon while stirring in the white wine. Let the mixture reduce. Serve over the chicken or separately.