Fragrant Chicken Biryani

Isn’t it odd that although life should always come before one’s blog, a strange pang of guilt manifests itself within one’s gut following every unannounced hiatus? To tell you the truth, I had found a good blogging-groove and was rather comfortable posting every other day. However, on Friday I jumped aboard a coach bound for Cardiff, in order to see my friend Tom. He played the part of host rather well and even cooked me a rather tasty prawn caldine, something which I hope to make frugal at a later date. The trip was just what I needed; an opportunity to get away from Aberystwyth and to do a little chilling. Since my eagerly awaited return I have found myself full of a kind of arrogant, yet not oppressive, verve and I intend fully to blog your socks off.

Regular Sunday roasts have always been a tradition in my family. Of course, what this means is that at the beginning of most weeks in the month we are left with a great deal of chicken meat and a carcass. As one might expect, the carcass invariably ends up in the stock pot with some bay leaves, veg and peppercorns; there is no better way to use it. However, the leftover meat has the potential to supply our dinner table with a far greater variety of food. Though variety can sometimes be a curse, as we’re always looking for different and interesting ways to use it up, throwing it away would be the antithesis of frugality. Indeed, there are certain dishes which are better suited to pre-cooked chicken than they are to great big hunks of uncooked chicken breast; this biryani is just one such dish. Of course, one may opt to use fresh chicken in this curry, but it certainly isn’t necessary.

The secret behind a perfect biryani, if there is such a thing, is that it should be light and fluffy, as opposed to dense and saucy. It is for this reason that I always try to make fragrant biryani; the flavour and texture work far better this way – the choice of rice is very important. If one opts for a cheap, shorter grain of rice the dish will end up a little claggy. Instead, one should always choose a longer grain of rice, ideally basmati. Of course, the method by which one prepares the rice is also important and one of two will do just fine. Indeed, the method used in last year’s sweet potato and mushroom biryani works just fine, as does the technique used by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – his method will be used in this particular recipe. This really is rather a delicious biryani and I urge all of you to consider it. Enjoy!

Fragrant Chicken Biryani

Serves 3-4

Ingredients:

• 2 onions, finely sliced

• 1 tsp coriander seeds, ground

• 1 cinnamon stick, ½ tsp ground cinnamon will do

• 2 bay leaves

• 4 cardamom pods, bashed

• ½ tsp ground turmeric

• 1 tsp chilli flakes

• A small knob of ginger, grated

• 2 cloves of garlic

• Rapeseed oil

• 200g basmati rice

• 2 handfuls of leftover chicken

• 1 lime

• A handful of coriander

• Salt and pepper

Method:

1. Begin by frying the onions in a little oil with the cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, bay leaves, turmeric, chilli flakes, ginger and garlic. Cook for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, rinse the rice thoroughly and boil in enough water to cover it by 2cm, until the water has evaporated. Once that has happened cover the pan with a tea towel, pop the lid on and turn the heat right down.

2. Preheat the oven to 160C. Add the chicken to the onion and spices, mix thoroughly. After 5 minutes, fluff the rice and stir into the biryani. Add the juice of the lime and then throw the rest of it in for good measure. Season and pop in the oven for 20 minutes until hot and fragrant. Serve with a little chopped up coriander.

Cost: Using left over chicken is so much cheaper that using packaged chicken breast. Indeed, by my reckoning this entire biryani should set one back a mere £2, at the most. It really is difficult to go wrong at such a pleasing price point.

99 thoughts on “Fragrant Chicken Biryani

  1. Juls

    I felt compelled to google ‘prawn caldine’ and I wish I hadn’t because between that and your biryani, tonight’s pie is looking mighty insubstantial. (“prawn face” was one of the options google presented me with and I regret being curious because a google image result of the close up of a marine crustacean’s maw is fairly terrifying – I’ll return to staring at how pretty your crockery is. You do have very pretty crockery.)

  2. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    I love biryani, but never thought to make it with leftover chicken before. Probably because with two teenage boys, there rarely is leftover chicken. ;-) Maybe next time I’ll hide a drumstick and make this recipe – it looks delicious. Love your serving ware too! :)

  3. soffiagudrun

    I want to try this. leftover chicken is also great with leftover risotto, all pan fried the day after…
    You are doing a great job with the photos. It´s a full time job sometimes to make a nice photo to go with the blog, so Kudos!

  4. gaele1

    I tried this tonight… Yummy. Thank you. None of the recipes I have found before were as simple. But – I used Jasmine rice – done in an asian steamer basket and it was nice and fluffy. I also omitted the chopped coriander and put a bit of fresh tarragon.. Now I need to go play with my curry recipe. Cheers!

  5. Michelle

    Very nice! I know what you mean about the pressure to post, though. We’ve been having work done in our kitchen plus I went to my high school reunion, and now I’m feeling really far behind.

    1. Somer

      Yes please do, and then proceed to blog our socks off. I’m going to attempt achicken-less version as yours is stunning and I can see will do fine without it. I swear I can smell it from here.

  6. theintrepidbaker

    Wow! I can’t believe making briyani is that cheap! I always thought the spices alone would be very costly. Can’t wait to try out your recipe. Would you recommend cooking this in a rice cooker?

  7. Willow

    What an inviting dish! The combination of spices sounds incredible.

    And I know exactly that guilty feeling – my blogging has slowed down in lieu of other life stuff. Which, of course, is more important, but it does nag at the back of my mind…

  8. Karista

    This recipe looks so full of flavor and completely delicious! I love these kinds of recipes, especially when I can use leftover chicken. Have a lovely week Frugal!

  9. Cara

    Duuuuuuuuuuuuuddddddeeee, you are making me so hungry right now! I need to eat breakfast :) Nick, this looks unbelievable! You better believe that homegirl is making this!

  10. kanzensakura

    This looks wonderful – recipe and pics. I am certainly going to do. I don’t know if you do this or have the space, but when chickens are on a really good sale (the nice ones without those hormones and such), I buy several and cook by putting in my pressure cooker – less time and less cooking gas. I then strip the meat and put in in two cup packages seperating dark from light meat. The broth of course goes in the freezer along with the unseasoned broth, all ready to pull out at a moment’s notice. I have found no difference in taste or texture of “freshly cooked” or leftover chicken. So I am going to put out chicken to thaw and use for this for Sunday dinner tonight. Thank you for this recipe! I hope you will come again and visit me. I love company! Thank you for liking my blog on Tater Cakes.

      1. kanzensakura

        I can certainly understand that. My family are the main meat eaters! It save me time and money looking after them. I am making the Biryani this weekend, with and without chicken to take to potluck dinner. I think it is going to be wonderful and different from the usual Southern fare.

  11. theunchemicalchef

    I also had the sensation of being able to smell the biryani! I look forward to trying the recipe, which looks scrumptious. AND had a tough time with my most recent post, which started out about a bean salad and became a research project into soaking beans and phytates. I am sure we give more thought to our food than any generation ever — my blog is all about thinking about it — , whether for good or ill!

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