Cast-Iron Chicken Biryani with Saffron

Warm, aromatic, comfy, bursting with spice and flavor. Biryani. Let's get right into it. This recipe will serve 3-4 regular portions.

 

 

Ingredients you'll need for the chicken marinade:

 

3 lb chicken (your preference of breast and/or thigh, boneless or bone-in)

1 cup yogurt

2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

1 tbsp salt

2 tbsp red chilli powder

1 1/2 tbsp coriander powder

1 tbsp cumin powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

4-5 cloves

1 inch cinnamon stick

3-4 cardamom pods 

1/2 tbsp garam masala

1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves 

2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

1 tbsp oil

1 cup each of chopped cilantro and mint

 

Ingredients you'll need for the rice:

 

3 cups basmati rice

6-7 tbsp salt

1 1/2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

2 tbsp cumin seeds

4-5 cloves

1 inch cinnamon stick

3 cardamom pods

1 bay leaf (dried or fresh)

2 tbsp each of chopped cilantro and mint

 

Ingredients you'll need for the assembly:

 

2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

1 gram of Mazåeuš Saffron

3 tbsp milk or heavy cream

Fried onions, chopped cilantro and mint to garnish with

 

Method:

 

Steep your Mazåeuš Saffron, using either the full-thread or powder steeping method. You want to do this first, as there is some waiting involved, and you'll need the saffron infusion to be ready to use later. 

 

Step 1

  1. Place the chicken in a large bowl to marinate. If you are using boneless chicken breast or thighs, chop the chicken into 1 inch pieces. 
  2. Combine all the marinade ingredients (except the oil) in the bowl with the chicken, mix it evenly until the chicken is thoroughly covered. Allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, overnight if possible.
  3. In a thick-bottom pot, add the tbsp of oil over a medium-high flame on your stove. Wait until the oil is hot, then add the marinated chicken evenly across the pot. 
  4. Cover the pot for a few minutes with a lid, opening to stir the chicken occasionally, making sure that the chicken is getting cooked evenly; depending on whether your chicken is boneless or bone-in, this cooking process should take about 10-15 minutes.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked, turn the flame off and set your pot of cooked chicken aside.

 

Step 2

  1. Rinse the basmati rice in a strainer about 4-5 times until the water runs clean, ensuring excess starch has been removed from the rice.
  2. Soak the rice in water for 30 minutes. 
  3. Fill a large pot with water, leaving about 3 inches empty below the rim. Bring the water to a boil, then add all of the rice ingredients to the pot. 
  4. Add the soaked basmati rice to the boiling water, and turn the heat down to medium high.
  5. Stirring the rice occasionally, cook for 7-8 minutes. When you take a grain of rice and press between two fingers, the rice should crumble but not turn into a mush or paste, which signals it is about 80% cooked.
  6. Turn the flame off, remove the pot and drain the rice into a strainer or colander. At this point, you could remove the bay leaf and the cinnamon if you don’t want it in the final assembly.

 

Assembling:

 

  1. In a small bowl, add the milk/heavy cream. Add your Mazåeuš Saffron-infused water to the milk or cream and stir until evenly mixed. 
  2. In a deep pan or pot, at least 3 inches deep and 9x13 inches length and width-wise, add about 1/3rd of the cooked basmati rice and layer evenly it with all of the cooked chicken all around the pan.
  3. Garnish this first layer with half the fried onions, and add the rest of the rice evenly on top of the first layer.
  4. Lightly pour the saffron-infused milk and ghee all over -- this is meant to both add flavor and color, but also treat it like art, like painting on a canvas.
  5. Add the remaining fried onions as a garnish, and finally sprinkle the chopped cilantro and mint.
  6. Cover the pan with tin foil or a lid and bake it for 30 minutes at 300 F in your oven. If using the stove, cook for 30 minutes on a low-medium flame.
  7. Enjoy!!

 

Notes from the chef:

 

  1. This might seem like a lot of steps, but you could multitask, and it would take no more than 40 minutes start to finish.
  2. You could add the juice from half a lemon and a generous pinch of sugar at the end when you finish cooking the chicken to balance out the flavors.
  3. You could soak the basmati rice just before you start to cook the chicken, by the time the chicken finishes cooking, you can start boiling the water to cook the rice to save some time.
  4. While boiling the rice, taste the water after adding salt. It should taste much saltier than what should be in the final product (or they say should taste like sea water). The rice absorbs only about 10% to 20% of the salt in the water, so don’t worry if the salt you put in the water is a lot.
  5. If you find the rice in the edge of the pan burning or turning out dry, you could pour 1/4th cup of water around the perimeter of the pan before baking or cooking in the final step.
  6. Adjust the salt in the recipe accordingly to your taste, what’s provided is just an estimate.
  7. Serve the dish with raita (yogurt mixed with salt, chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro).

 

Recipe submitted by Chef Anoop Kasa

Instagram: @anoop_kasa 

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