Chicken Biryani - Mildly Spiced


I love biryani. They aren't confined to special occasions or days, they're a comfort food. It warms my soul and nourishes my body. It saves me from those days where I stare at an open refrigerator wondering what vegetables to pair and what to cook. No,I'm not good at meal planning. So, having an easy recipe with ingredients I mostly have in my pantry is a relief.

The only two ingredients I didn't have until now are the white poppy seeds and dried plums. But ever since I started making biryani this way they've become part of my pantry. For my Irish readers, poppy seed is available in most Asian stores. They come in a 200g pack and will last for a long time, I mean a very long time. Unless you use it to make lemon poppy seed muffins all the time. A favorite of mine which I should blog about. And the dried plums. They are different from prunes and comes with the seed. It has a sweet and mild sour taste and that too can be found in Asian stores. It will be great addition to any curry. The hulled white poppyseeds and dried plums can be seen in the picture below.

For a novice biryani cook who relies on store bought biryani spice packs the ingredients list might seem long and steps arduous. But I assure you it's not. Once you gather the ingredients and know the steps it's a matter of putting everything together. Yes, it may take a couple of tries to get cooking smoothly. When I like a recipe and it becomes a routine I fall into a rhythm of executing each step.

I let the chicken marinade;
keep the water to boil for the rice;
rinse and drain the rice;
grind the spices;
cut the onion and the leaves for garnish.

After I'm done with the chopping, I cook the chicken;
boil and drain the rice. Keep it aside.

When the chicken is done, I dump the rice onto it and let it cook.

That's my rhythm. I feel it's important to develop one's own rhythm in performing tasks so that it doesnt seem daunting but rather, enjoyable.

Up until recently, I relied on store bought biryani packs for convenience. I wanted to make my own biryani spice mix but it always felt like extra work. Ready-made mixes almost always had red chili in it which I don't tolerate anymore. I have used green chillies as they are mild when used whole. But you can avoid that and use some blackpepper instead. When I fell sick last winter, a dear friend made this for me. Needless to say, I'm in love with recipe ever since. Give it a go, let me know what you think.

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Mildly Spiced Chicken Biyani
A Chicken Biryani for those who have milder tastebuds or who don't tolerate red chilli. Use chicken with bones for optimal flavor, preferably legs ,thighs and wings.
  • 750 g Chicken with bones,skinned and washed
  • 300 g Long Grain(Basmati) rice
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Poppy Seeds
  • 2 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg Powder
  • 1 tbsp Almonds or Cashews
  • 2 Onion, medium and sliced
  • 2 Green Chillies, whole
  • 2 tsp Ginger and Garlic Paste
  • 3 Dried Plums
  • Whole spices(Cardomom pods,Staranise,Cinnamon,Cloves;2 of each)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp Oil
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp Butter or Ghee
  • Fried onions,Coriander and mint leaves chopped to garnish
In a mixing bowl, add chicken pieces, yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric and 1 tsp salt. Mix everything together and coat the chicken evenly and cover the bowl. Let it marinate for about 30 minutes.Grind the poppy seeds, cumin powder, coriander powder, nutmeg powder, almonds in to a powder.In a large pan in which you can fit the biryani, heat the oil and add the onions, Cook the onions till it becomes golden and add the marinated chicken. Discard the liquid leftover from the marinated chicken. Add the ginger,garlic paste,dried plums, whole green chillies and the ground spice powder. Mix well and cook on medium heat for abut 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of water, 1/2 tsp salt and stir. Cover and cook for about 25 to 30 minutes till the chicken is cooked and curry is reduced to half.In a separate pot, bring to boil 4 cups of water, 1 tsp salt and whole spices. Add the rinsed rice and cook for about 10 minutes till the rice is cooked half way through. Drain the rice.Once the chicken is cooked, add the drained rice and mix well. Dot with butter or ghee. Cover and cook on low hear for 10 minutes. Garnish with fried onions, coriander and mint leaves.Serve with raita or yogurt with cucumbers.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 4 Servings

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