In Swahili, wali ya mboga translates to “rice and vegetables.” This upscale version incorporated chicken as well. This dish was similar to a biryani with layered rice with greens, caramelized onions, and yogurt-marinaded chicken in tomato curry sauce. To serve, each serving was also topped with pickled onions, called kachumbar, and salted creamy yogurt. Beyond full-flavored.
I must mention that I really browned my tomato paste during the cooking process. Recently, I have read about the importance of letting tomato paste darken for optimal flavor- apparently, I took this advice to heart! The sauce in my finished dish was much deeper in color than in the original recipe.
The recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Zaynab Issa. I modified the proportions and method. I boiled the rice as instructed in the original recipe but struggled with the method- and wasn’t completely thrilled with the resulting texture. Next time, I would cook the rice using a traditional method or use a much larger pot to boil the rice.
Yield: 6 servings
For the Dish:
1 2/3 cups good-quality white basmati rice (such as Shahzada)
1/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek) (I used whole milk cream-top plain yogurt)
one 1″ piece ginger, scrubbed, finely grated (about 1 T)
8 large garlic cloves, finely grated or pushed through a garlic press, divided
2 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 3/4 tsp Morton kosher salt, divided, plus more
1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (not Greek) (I used whole milk cream-top plain yogurt)
To Make the Dish:
Place rice in a medium bowl and pour in cold water to cover. Agitate rice with your hands until water is cloudy. Drain and repeat until water is almost clear (about 3 times). Pour in water to cover rice by 2″; soak at least 30 minutes and up to 12 hours.
Stir yogurt, ginger, half of garlic, 3/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp turmeric in a medium bowl to combine. Season with pepper. Add chicken thighs, turning to coat. Let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium to medium-high. (I used a large enameled cast iron pot.)
Add onion and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is frizzled and deeply browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer onion to a plate and set aside.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in same skillet (still over medium to medium-high).
Working in batches if necessary, remove chicken from marinade and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes on the first side and 4 minutes on the second side. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving oil behind.
Add tomato paste, coriander, cumin, chile powder, remaining half of garlic, remaining 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp turmeric to skillet. Cook over medium to medium-high, stirring often, until tomato paste turns a shade darker in color, about 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low, stir in 1 cup water, and bring to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors come together and sauce has thickened, 10–12 minutes.
Return chicken to pan and stir to coat in sauce. Remove from heat; cover and keep warm. (I placed the pan in a warming drawer.)
Drain rice and cook in a very large pot of boiling generously salted water 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. (Alternatively, the rice can be cooked traditionally using a 1:2 ratio with boiling water. Cook, covered, over low heat for 15 minutes.)
Stir the Swiss chard, kale or spinach into the rice.
Continue to cook until rice is tender and greens are wilted and bright green, about 1 to 3 minutes more.
Drain in a colander and let sit 10 minutes to allow moisture to steam off.
To Assemble and To Serve:
While the rice rests, combine onion, lemon juice, chiles, tomatoes, and 1/4 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt in a small bowl. Toss with a fork to combine, breaking up the onion slices. Let kachumbar sit 5 minutes.
Stir yogurt and remaining salt in another small bowl.
To serve, fluff rice with a fork, making sure the greens are evenly distributed; transfer to a platter.
Scatter reserved caramelized onions over and arrange chicken on top. (Or for a more casual look, return rice to pot and gently stir in chicken and onion.)
Compared to my last post, this pressure cooker biryani is an even faster version of this full-flavored Indian dish- very tasty but possibly a little less authentic.
There are a couple points to note in order for this dish to be a success. It is very important to use the largest shrimp available to prevent over-cooking. Secondly, when adding the water to the pot, it must be boiling in order for the rice to cook in the allotted time frame.
This recipe was adapted from The Complete Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Chandra Ram via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I increased the amount of garlic, omitted the curry leaves, and used a stove-top pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot. Nice.
Yield: Serves 6
2cups Basmati rice
2teaspoons vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1Serrano chile, minced
2tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1tablespoon minced garlic (I used 4 large cloves)
2teaspoons kosher salt
1teaspoon Chile powder, preferably Kashmiri (I used Ancho)
1teaspoon ground turmeric
1teaspoon smoked paprika
10fresh curry leaves, torn into pieces, optional (if available)(can substitute curry powder, to taste)
1 ½cups boiling water
1 ½pounds jumbo shrimp (16 to 20 or fewer per pound, see note), peeled and deveined
1(15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus more wedges for serving
½cup chopped fresh cilantro
Place the rice in a bowl and cover with 2 cups water. Let stand for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse.
Heat oil in the pot of a pressure cooker (set to the sauté function set on high in an electric pot), until oil is shimmering.
Add onion; cook for about 4 minutes, until softened.
Stir in Serrano chile, ginger, garlic, salt, chile powder, turmeric, paprika and curry leaves (if using); cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
Stir in boiling water; using a wooden spoon, stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot.
Stir in soaked rice, shrimp and tomatoes (with juice).
Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quick-release the pressure (on my pot, I rotate the release valve 90 degrees), stir lime juice into the rice, then cover the pressure cooker with a kitchen towel and the lid; let it sit for 5 minutes.
Give rice another stir, then taste and add more salt, if needed.
Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges on the side.
Note: Make sure to use jumbo shrimp or larger for this recipe. Look for “16/20” or “U/15” on the package; this indicates how many shrimp there are per pound.
I am a list person. I have lists all over my house… things to do, things to cook, etc. I love a good list. (I especially love crossing items off of these lists!) This simple version of this typically complex dish was part of Bon Appétit’s list of the Most Popular Chicken Dishes of 2019. Bon Appétit loves lists too. 🙂
This dish is all about the rice, and I had some special Basmati rice given to me by a friend just waiting for an occasion to shine. Perfect. I loved the layers of flavor and different textures in the finished dish. It is loaded with spices, nuts, dried fruit, and topped with caramelized onions.
The raita and the chicken (in marinade) are prepared a day in advance. This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of bone-in and modified the proportions. The creamy raita is essential to the finished dish. We also ate it with roasted cauliflower on the side. It was buttery, rich and delicious.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8
For the Onion Raita and Chicken Marinade:
½ tsp granulated sugar
1½ cups whole-milk yogurt, divided (I used whole-milk Greek yogurt)
3 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 red onion
1 4″ piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cardamon
10 boneless, skinless, chicken things or 4-6 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 dried bay leaves
For the Rice and Assembly:
¾ cup kosher salt
2 cups Basmati rice, preferably aged, such as Daawat (I used Aahu Barah)
1 red onion, thinly sliced
¾ cup melted ghee
½ cup mixed coarsely chopped nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, pine nuts, and/or walnuts
1 T granulated sugar
¾ cup mixed dried fruit, such as prunes, apricots, pineapple, and/or cranberries (I used chopped dried mango and dried cranberries)
To Make the Onion Raita:
Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tsp) into a small bowl.
Squeeze in juice from one half of the lemon.
Add sugar, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper.
Finely chop one-quarter of the onion and stir into raita.
Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour or chill up to overnight.
To Marinate the Chicken:
Purée ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, juice of remaining lemon half, and remaining three-quarters of onion, ½ cup yogurt, 2 tsp. salt, and ¾ tsp. pepper in a blender until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.) Transfer to a medium bowl.
If using bone-in chicken thighs, pull skin off chicken thighs and discard.
Transfer the chicken to the bowl with ginger mixture, add bay leaves, and toss to combine.
Cover with a plate and let marinate at room temperature at least 2 hours or preferably chill up to overnight.
To Make the Rice and Assemble the Dish:
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
Bring salt and 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large pot over high heat.
Meanwhile, place rice in a medium bowl. Cover with cool tap water, use your hand to gently agitate the grains, and drain. Repeat at least 2 more times until water runs clear enough to see your hand through it.
Add drained rice all at once to boiling salted water. Initially the water will stop boiling and the rice will sink to the bottom. Stir a few times with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking, then stop stirring. After a couple of minutes, the water will return to a simmer and a few grains will begin appearing near the surface. The rice is ready to drain when the grains have nearly doubled in size, the water returns to a boil, and most of the rice rapidly bubbles to the surface. When you bite into a grain, you want to see a hard white core; just like pasta cooked al dente, the grains should remain firm. Depending on the quality of your rice, this can take anywhere from 3–7 minutes, so begin tasting the grains early. (I boiled my rice for 7 minutes.)
Drain rice and rinse with water until cool. Set aside.
Cook onion and ghee in a 4–6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until onions are golden and crisp, 8–10 minutes. The sides and bottom of pot may brown and even develop some char. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a plate. (I used a 6-quart enameled cast iron pot.)
Reduce heat to medium-low and toast nuts in ghee in same pot, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and darkened in color, 2–3 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer nuts to another plate; set aside for serving. (I used raw slivered almonds and raw walnut pieces.)
Transfer half of ghee in pot to a small bowl; set aside.
Increase heat to medium-high and sprinkle sugar over remaining ghee in pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until sugar forms deeply caramelized clumps, 3–5 minutes.
Add chicken, scraping in marinade, and bring to a simmer.
Remove from heat and arrange chicken and marinade in an even layer.
Sprinkle with dried fruit and one-third of fried onions.
Top with rice.
Poke 5–7 holes into rice with the back of a wooden spoon until you reach the chicken. Drizzle reserved ghee over and top with another third of fried onions.
Cover with a tight-fitting lid and return to medium heat. Cook until you can hear the chicken gurgling in the pot and wisps of steam just begin to escape from lid, about 5 minutes. Do not open the lid at any point! If you peek, you will risk losing too much steam, preventing the rice from properly cooking through.
Transfer pot to oven and bake, covered, 45 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before uncovering.
Using a large spoon or small plate, gently scoop rice off chicken and transfer to a platter. Carefully spoon chicken thighs and any sauce over rice. Top with reserved fried nuts and remaining onions.
Serve alongside onion raita while ghee is still hot and rice is steamy.
I have another wonderful Indian dish to share. I first spotted this mouth-watering dish on Safari of the Mind– the site of my like-minded blog friend, Loretta. I had to make it. 🙂
I doubled the amount of chicken in the original recipe -thinking it would be the highlight- but I was obsessed with the rice! I didn’t cut the chicken into pieces, but may opt to next time. I used 1 tablespoon of prepared Garam Masala powder but included the ingredients to prepare it below- I do think it would be even more delicious if it was prepared with the fresh spice blend. I also omitted the water in the marinade and the mint in the tempering. I baked the biryani rather than cooking it on the stove.
1/2 large yellow onion, very finely chopped (about 150 grams)
5 large garlic cloves, very finely chopped (about 1 T)
2-inch piece ginger root, very finely chopped (about 2 T)
4 to 8 green chillies, fresh, chopped, de-seeded and minced, to taste (I used jalapeños)
2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, from 1 large lime
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tsp coarse salt, or to taste
8 to 10 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 in pieces, if desired
For the Masala Powder:
1 piece cinnamon, 1 inch
4 green cardamom pods
6 black peppercorns
1 teaspoon black cumin seeds
For the Rice:
2 cups basmati rice, or any other long-grain rice
6 green cardamom pods
1 piece cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
4 tsp plus 1 T ghee, divided
2 T vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
3 large yellow onions, sliced
1 T vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in 1/4 cup warm milk for 30 minutes
14 fresh mint leaves, for garnish, as desired
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish, as desired
1 tablespoon slivered almonds, blanched and toasted
Place yogurt in a large bowl and whisk, using a fork until smooth. Add onion, garlic, ginger, and chilies to a bowl and combine with yogurt, turmeric, lime juice, coriander leaves and salt.
Place masala powder ingredients in an electric grinder and process to a fine powder. Add to yogurt mixture.
Add chicken and massage with your hands for the marinade to coat and penetrate the chicken. Marinate, covered for 2 to 6 hours in the refrigerator.
Wash rice at least 3 times until the water runs clear. Soak rice in water to cover by at least 1 inch for 15 minutes. Drain.
Place a large pan on high heat and pour in 2 liters (8 cups) water. (I used a 4 quart pan.) Bring to a boil and then add drained rice, stirring gently. Toss in cloves, green cardamom pods, cinnamon, bay leaf and salt. Stir to mix, then cover with a lid. Simmer for 5 minutes on low heat or until half-cooked. Drain the rice. Set aside and allow to cool.
Heat 4 teaspoons ghee and tablespoons oil in a pan and fry the sliced onions till caramelized and crisp. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. (200 degrees C)
Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil onto the bottom of a heavy saucepan and place the marinated chicken at the bottom, spreading it out in one layer. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.)
Spoon half the rice in a layer over the chicken. Drizzle 2 tablespoons saffron milk, 1/2 tablespoon ghee, and 1/2 tablespoon coriander leaves over the layered rice. Top with 1/2 the onions.
Repeat one more layer with the remaining rice, saffron milk, ghee, coriander leaves, and onions.
Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and then with a fitted lid.
Place biryani in the preheated oven for 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is 165 degrees. Remove from the oven. Let the biryani rest, covered for 10 minutes. (Because the chicken pieces were whole, I baked it for 45 minutes.)
Remove lid and foil, and garnish with mint and/or cilantro leaves and slivered almonds, as desired. Serve hot.