A Chicken Briyani that you don’t have to be an expert uncle at Tekka market to make.
Chicken Briyani is customary in most Indian houses and it is as socially divisive as Chicken Rice is to the Chinese. Every household has its own unique version of this rice dish, with a little more of that and a little less of this. Plus, we have opinions about the best store-bought briyani, too.
I had been putting off creating a recipe for Chicken Briyani, simply because I wanted to stay away from any unwanted backlash. Also, I didn’t quite feel like I was ready to manage the Everest of my profession by tackling a dish so well-loved by my community. I was even worried about what my own mother would say, she herself being someone who is well-versed in the art of making Dum Briyani. In fact, she once made this prawn briyani that I had dreams about for months thereafter.
Something changes this year when I was deciding on the Deepavali menu for The Craver’s Guide. I wanted it to touch the hearts of my readers and my community by giving everyone a bit of everything. And top on the list was this Chicken Briyani.
My approach to recipes is evident even in a dish as complicated at this; it was one of the authenticities I wanted to maintain in writing this recipe without offending anyone. I am glad to say I pulled it off. And I have receipts for it as I tested this recipe more than once. Indian food does not have to be high-pressure cooking, it can be easily done. For example, some briyani recipes require you to add colouring. This recipe, in my opinion, is as simple as it gets.
Place dutch oven over medium-high heat. Place butter and oil into the pan and let the butter melt and bubble slightly. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon, star anise, coriander seeds and peppercorns and temper for 5 mins, until aromatic.
Add the chopped onion, garlic cloves and chillies. Saute till cooked through, about 3 mins. Then, add chicken cubes and peas. Saute until chicken begins to brown a little, about 3 mins. Add all the various spice powders, and stir through to coat the chicken and peas.
Pour in the water, cover the pot and bring to a boil. Then, add the soaked (and drained) basmati rice. Stir through quickly, cover the pot again and reduce the flame to low. Cook for 20 mins covered.
Remove lid and check to see if rice is cooked. You can use your spatula to stir through the rice, helping the top layer of rice to soak up the spices. Remove from heat and leave covered for a further 10 mins, by which time the steam should have cooked every grain of rice.