Chicken Biryani

Serves 4

4 tbsp.  butter (1/2 stick), divided

1 large onion, chopped

Salt and black pepper to taste

Large pinch of saffron threads

10 whole cardamom pods (5 white/green, 5 black, if available)

5 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1 tbsp. peeled and minced or grate fresh ginger

1 ½ cups basmati rice

3 cups chicken stock

1 chicken, 3-4 pounds cut into serving pieces, or

2 ½ to 3 pounds chicken parts

¼ cup slivered almonds (optional

  1. Put 2 tbsp. of the butter in a large skillet, flameproof casserole or wide saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat to melt the butter. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally to soften the onion without browning, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the spices and cook another minute, stirring.
  2. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until ingredients are well mixed and rice is coated, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the stock, the chicken and more salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and adjust the heat so the mixture simmers.
  4. Cook undisturbed for 20 to 25 minutes and check. When chicken is tender and rice has absorbed the liquids, turn heat off and cover. (If chicken or rice is not done, add no more than ½ cup boiling water and re-cover with heat still on.)
  5. Meanwhile, melt remaining 2 tbsp. butter in a small skillet over medium heat. If using almonds, add and stir until browned slightly, 3 minutes. Pour the butter over the biryani when off the heat, add a bit more salt, cover and let rest for 2 or 3 minutes. (You can keep the dish, covered, in a 200°F oven for up to 30 minutes without impairing quality.)
  6. Take the pot to the table and serve.

Serve with: Dal, or other Indian vegetable.

Source: “The Best Recipes In The World” by Mark Bittman Double B Publishing, 2005.

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