Saffron Rice And Chicken Casserole


Saffron rice and chicken casserole
Biryani, as this is known in India, is a labor-intensive preparation. Hence, reserve this for special occasions. This is a one-pot meal, but adding a simple raita to it will make it even more nutritious. Leftovers of this dish are even more flavorful, so make an extra portion!


        2 lbs (1 kg) chicken, skinned and cut into serving pieces

        4 cups (1 liter) water; 1½ cups (300 g) uncooked basmati rice, rinsed and drained

        2 tablespoons oil or clarified butter; 4 whole mace

        6 cardamom pods; 1 (1-in/2.5-cm) cinnamon stick

        2 bay leaves; 2 teaspoons cumin seeds

        2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves

        2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)

        1 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked 5–10 minutes in ¼ cup (65 ml) warm milk

        1½ cups (150 g) sliced onions, crisply fried

        2 tablespoons cashew nuts, toasted.

Biryani Marinade

        5 large cloves garlic

        1 (3-in/7.5-cm) piece peeled fresh ginger

        1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves

        2 fresh green chili peppers, stemmed

        1 cup (40 g) fresh coriander leaves(cilantro), coarsely chopped

        2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

        2 cups (490 g) nonfat plain yogurt, whisked until smooth

        1 tablespoon garam masala

        Salt, to taste.


Step 1:
Make the Biryani Marinade by blending the garlic, ginger, mint, green chili peppers, coriander and lime juice in a food processor or a blender to make a smooth purée. Transfer to a bowl and mix in the yogurt, garam masala, and salt. Add the chicken and mix well, making sure all the pieces are well coated with the marinade. Cover and marinate for at least 8 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Step 2:
Preheat the oven to 350ºF (175ºC). In a large non-stick saucepan, bring the water to a boil over high heat and add the rice. Return the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, until the rice is half cooked, about 7 to10 minutes. Drain the rice and discard the water.

Step 3:
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick, oven-safe saucepan with a tight-tting lid. 5 Add the mace, cardamom pods, cinnamon, bay leaves and cumin seeds, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Step 4:
Add the marinated chicken with all the marinade and sauté, stirring frequently, until lightly brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Step 5:
Sprinkle the mint and coriander on top of the chicken, then cover everything well with the partially cooked rice. Top the rice with the sa�ron milk, seal the pan well with aluminum foil, and place the lid tightly over the foil.
Step 6:
Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, fluff the top of the rice lightly with a fork, arrange the fried onions and toasted cashew nuts on top and serve hot.

Food: Saffron Rice And Chicken Casserole

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