Chicken Biryani

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:

  • 1 lemon
  • 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:

  1. Finely grate the zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tsp) into a small bowl.
  2. Squeeze in juice from one half of the lemon.
  3. Add sugar, 1 cup yogurt, 1 tsp salt, and ¼ tsp pepper.
  4. Finely chop one-quarter of the onion and stir into raita.
  5. Let sit at room temperature at least 1 hour or chill up to overnight.

To Marinate the Chicken:

  1. 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.
  2. If using bone-in chicken thighs, pull skin off chicken thighs and discard.
  3. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with ginger mixture, add bay leaves, and toss to combine.
  4. 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:

  1. Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350°, preferably on convection.
  2. Bring salt and 3 quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large pot over high heat.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.)
  5. Drain rice and rinse with water until cool. Set aside.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.)
  8. Transfer half of ghee in pot to a small bowl; set aside.
  9. 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.
  10. Add chicken, scraping in marinade, and bring to a simmer.
  11. Remove from heat and arrange chicken and marinade in an even layer.
  12. Sprinkle with dried fruit and one-third of fried onions.
  13. Top with rice.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Transfer pot to oven and bake, covered, 45 minutes. Let rest at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour before uncovering.
  17. 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.
  18. Serve alongside onion raita while ghee is still hot and rice is steamy.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pears and Pistachios

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Brussels sprouts on their stalks are completely irresistible to me. My husband isn’t a fan, so when my mom comes to visit I make them for us. This year my mother-in-law was here to gobble them up as well! This roasted version was a wonderful side dish- absolutely fabulous with the sweetness of the pears and the crunchiness of the nuts. This recipe was adapted from Bevi of Food 52, via A Pug in the Kitchen. This is definitely my new go-to brussels sprouts recipe. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

  • 2 pounds brussels sprouts (from 1 large stalk), halved lengthwise
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 Bosc pears, halved lengthwise and cored
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped coarsely (I used salted)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F (convection roast). Place the prepared brussels sprouts on two parchment-lined baking sheets and pour on the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix with clean hands. Place the pear halves, cut sides-down, on one of the baking sheets, making sure there is enough oil to coat their cut surfaces.
  2. Roast the brussels sprouts and pears for about 15 minutes. Then turn the brussels sprouts with a metal spatula so that both sides will get caramelized. Check the pear — it many not be caramelized at this point. Alternate the position of the pans and continue to roast another 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven heat to 375° F. Add the pistachios and roast an additional 5 minutes to lightly toast them.
  4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Squeeze lemon juice directly over all the ingredients. Chop the pear halves. Toss everything thoroughly, check the seasoning, and serve on a platter or in a bowl.

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One Year Ago:

Green Couscous with Arugula

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A few evenings ago, my husband and son were at a swim meet and I was home with my picky-eating daughter. I had tons of beautiful CSA arugula all to myself! 🙂 (It is my favorite!) Initially, I was going to just eat it as a giant salad for dinner, but this seemed much more special. I quadrupled the amount of arugula in this dish. Healthy & delicious- as a vegetarian entree or a side dish. This recipe was adapted from Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi. I am bringing this to share with my arugula loving friends for Fiesta Friday #25 at the Novice Gardener. Have a great weekend!

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 cup whole wheat couscous
  • 3/4 cup boiling water or vegetable stock
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin

For the Herb Paste:

  • 1/3 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 T chopped tarragon
  • 2 T chopped dill
  • 2 T chopped mint
  • 4 T olive oil

To complete the dish:

  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely sliced
  • 1 jalapeño, finely sliced
  • 4-5 cups arugula leaves, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
  1. Place the couscous in a large bowl and cover with the boiling water or stock. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, fry the onion in the olive oil on medium heat until golden and completely soft. Add the salt and cumin and mix well. Leave to cool slightly.
  3. To make the herb paste. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth.
  4. Add the herb paste to the couscous and mix everything together well with a fork to fluff it up.
  5. Add the cooked onion, pistachios, green onions, jalapeño, arugula, and feta. Gently mix. Serve at room temperature.

IMG_9418

One Year Ago:

Pistachio Semifreddo

IMG_7045

My husband and I have enjoyed celebrating several wedding anniversaries at Volt (restaurant of Bryan Voltaggio of Top Chef fame) in Frederick, Maryland while in the Washington, DC area at Christmastime. This year we splurged for the tasting menu to celebrate our FIFTEENTH anniversary! 🙂 One of several desserts we were served was a semifreddo rolled in dark chocolate and pistachios. It had a celebratory candle in it, and was our favorite! It was my introduction to this Italian semi-frozen dessert. Delicious and different. I went home that evening and searched for a recipe to make it myself.

I selected this recipe from Gourmet because it had rave reviews and was similar to the Volt version. Importantly, shelled pistachios are available at Trader Joe’s, making the task much more doable as well. I made it to serve with Pizzelles on New Year’s Eve at a friends’ house. It is such a special dessert and is simple to make. I will definitely make this one again. Great!

Yield: Makes 2 quarts

  • 1 1/2 cups shelled salted pistachios (6 1/2 to 7 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg whites
  • 2 cups chilled heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Pulse 1 cup pistachios with 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until very finely ground. Add remaining 1/2 cup pistachios and pulse until just coarsely ground.
  2. Beat egg whites in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until they just hold soft peaks. Beat in remaining 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, a little at a time, then increase speed to high and beat until meringue just holds stiff, glossy peaks.
  3. Beat cream with almond extract in a wide bowl with mixer at high speed until it just holds soft peaks.
  4. Fold meringue into cream gently but thoroughly, then fold in nut mixture in same manner. IMG_7004
  5. Spoon into a 2-quart dish, cover with plastic wrap flush on the surface. Freeze, covered, until firm enough to scoop, about 4 hours. Let soften slightly before serving. IMG_7006

Note:  The egg whites in this recipe are not cooked.

One Year Ago:

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