Monday, February 22, 2010

My Mamie's Biryani

My hubby and I love stopping by my parents' house on the weekends for some good, old-fashioned down-home cookin' and visiting :-)

My Mom knew Sim and I had been having a bit of a tough week, what with him being booked off with a nasty sinus infection and me being a bit stressed-out with work and whatnot, so she went all out with her very first, homemade chicken biryani - one of my all time fave comfort foods!

Her friend, Roslyn, was consulted for guidance on the general rules and ingredients of biryani-making. According to her: "You need to put lots of spice. The secret's in the spice" (thanks, Ros).

I must say, the finished product was absolutely brilliant (thanks, Mom). This was true soul-food (and sans any possible ingredients that I am intolerant to, guaranteeing nourishment to the cellular level!)

Sylvia's Chicken Biryani
(Serves 6 generously)

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups brown lentils (dal)
  • 8 chicken breasts (boneless)
  • 8 potatoes (medium)
  • 4 onions (small)
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • masala (Mom used a gluten-free blend from The Cape Herb & Spice Company called "Cape Country Curry Blend" which contains: coriander seeds; turmeric; cumin seeds (jeera); ginger; fenugreek; yellow mustard seeds; chillies, sea salt, cinnamon; garlic; cloves; bay leaf, turmeric oil; curry leaf)
  • rice spice (again, from the Cape Herb & Spice Co., a blend called "Malay Rice Spice" which contains: onion; sea salt; turmeric; coriander (dhania); garlic; fennel; chilli; cumin (jeera); mustard seeds; ginger; cinnamon)
  • olive oil


Step 1:
  • Cut the chicken breasts into chunks and rub with masala and salt. Set aside (in the fridge).
Step 2:
  • Put the rice on to boil (follow packet instructions) with the rice spice and salt.
  • In a seperate pot, put the brown lentils on to boil (follow packet instructions). Once they are cooked, add masala to taste.
  • Peel and cut the potatoes. Boil in a third pot with salt till soft.
Step 3:
  • Fry the onions, garlic and ginger in olive oil over low heat till translucent.
  • Add the chicken and cook till done (my mom added some of the boiling water from the lentils and potatoes), adding salt/pepper/masala to taste.
Step 4:
  • Assemble the biryani by layering rice - lentils - potatoes - chicken - rice (apparently boiled eggs are also an optional extra).
  • Cover with tin foil and pop into the oven to steam (about 175 degrees Celsius for about 20 minutes).
  • Take out the oven and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander (dhania) (if you can handle the taste, which I can't).
Mom served this delicious biryani with a simple side salad of lettuce and sprouted legumes/lentils.

Hubby and I got to take home the extra biryani, and recaptured the yum for dinner! :-)

I hope you all have a great week, filled with nourishing moments and good food.