Biryani – which is also spelled biriyani – is a popular rice-based dish in South India. It’s sort of like rice pilaf, but with an Indian spin and can be made in a multitude of ways, such as with shrimp, fish, lamb, etc. I especially like chicken biryani with toasted cashews to add some crunchy texture to the dish.
- 1 Tbsp ghee or butter (clarified, if possible), or canola oil
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thigh halves diced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 onion, peeled and minced
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground fennel seed
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 4 bay leafs
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup toasted cashews (I like to use Thai-spiced cashews from my local supermarket)
- 2 Tbsp raisins (preferably golden)
- Heat the ghee, butter or canola oil in a large, deep skillet or saucepan over high heat. Add the chicken and saute, stirring and turning frequently, until the pieces are browned – about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate or in a bowl.
- Add the onion to the pan and cook until softened, 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic, spices and bay leafs and cook, stirring, until nice and fragrant.
- Add the chicken back to the pot, along with the basmati rice and cook for a minute or two, stirring to combine the ingredients.
- Pour the chicken broth into the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer the biryani over medium-low heat until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed – about 10 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and set aside, covered, for an additional 10 minutes. I like to serve biryani warm, not hot. Just before serving, remove and discard the bay leafs, then add the cashews and raisins to the pot and toss gently with a large fork.
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Originally trained as an anthropologist, Ted Scheffler is a seasoned food, wine & travel writer based in Utah. He loves cooking, skiing, and spends an inordinate amount of time tending to his ever-growing herd of guitars and amplifiers.