Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread – How to Make Naan Pictorial Guide Included

Serves 4

Most of us would not consider a visit to an Indian restaurant complete without mopping up our curries with warm, soft, fragrant, utterly delicious naan.  Naan has been a restaurant dish (as opposed to home-cooked) almost since its introduction into India from Persia.  In recent years, many home cooks have started to make naan at home, mainly to stave off the cost associated with naan breads at restaurants.  It’s much more economical – and most importantly, just as delicious – to make naan at home!  All you require are a few basic ingredients that can be found in most well-stocked kitchens.  Naan can be eaten plain, brushed with melted butter or garnished with a variety of toppings.  Traditionally these toppings include grated garlic, chopped coriander, sesame seeds and onion seeds.  I’m going to be using melted butter, grated garlic and chopped coriander, but you can use whatever toppings you usually enjoy or leave as is.

20140824_143332-2Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make Naan

The yeast is a very important component when it comes to making naan at home.  While you can make flat breads without yeast, you won’t be able to achieve that soft and melt-in-your-mouth restaurant taste without it.  The milk and yogurt are also very important in making your naan stand out by making it soft and delicate.  Without these three things you won’t be able to achieve the same results.  The other trick to making restaurant style naan is to let your dough rest once you’ve divided it.  This gives the dough a chance to expand a little more and incorporate more air and ensures that your naan won’t rise as you roll it out.  You can use melted butter or ghee in place of the oil, but plain cooking oil will yield a good quality naan so go ahead and use that without worry.  I don’t like to add coriander while the naan is cooking so I add it prior to serving to keep it fresh.  You can add it in with the grated garlic if you prefer.  This recipe makes really soft and tasty restaurant style naan that goes great with most saucy curries.  Let’s get started.

Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make Naan

Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • ½ – 1 cup warm milk
  • Melted butter, for brushing
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, grated (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add warm water, active dry yeast and sugar and stir until combined. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to froth.
  2. In the meantime, sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or into a large bowl. Stir until well combined.
  3. Add the yogurt, oil, yeast mixture and half of the warm milk and combine on low speed until everything comes together. If kneading by hand, knead for 5 minutes until a soft, sticky dough forms. If using stand mixture, knead on medium-low for 2 minutes.  Add more milk as required as you knead to achieve soft, wet, pliable dough.
  4. Drizzle a little bit of oil on top of the dough ball and spread around until dough is evenly covered. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or aluminum foil and a towel on top and let sit in a warm place for 2 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, knead dough on a floured surface for a few seconds until all the air is dispersed and then divide into 4 equal balls. Cover them with a clean towel and let them rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
  6. Heat a skillet or tawa over medium heat and let it warm up for about 2 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oblong shape that’s wider at the bottom than at the top.  If using garlic, smear a quarter of it onto one side and roll into dough.  Roll out until dough is about 1/8th of an inch thick.   The dough will shrink onto itself so do not roll out too thick.
  7. Wet your hand with water and rub water onto the side that does not have any toppings such as the grated garlic and place this side down on the skillet or tawa. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes (or until large bubbles start to form) and then flip over and cook for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until slightly scorched in places (if you’re unsure flip a corner to see).  Remove to a covered plate and brush with melted butter on one side (the side with the toppings such as the grated garlic) and sprinkle with chopped coriander on top if using.  Continue this process until all the naans are rolled out and cooked.

Pictorial Guide

Cover the bowl with cling wrap or aluminum foil and a towel on top and let sit in a warm place for 2 hours.  Dough should be soft, sticky and pliable.

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Knead dough on a floured surface for a few seconds until all the air is dispersed and then divide into 4 equal balls. Cover them with a clean towel and let them rest for 5 – 10 minutes.

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Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oblong shape that’s wider at the bottom than at the top.  If using garlic, smear a quarter of it onto one side and roll into dough.  Roll out until dough is about 1/8th of an inch thick.   The dough will shrink onto itself so do not roll out too thick.

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Wet your hand with water and rub water onto the side that does not have any toppings such as the grated garlic and place this side down on the skillet or tawa. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes (or until large bubbles start to form) and then flip over and cook for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until slightly scorched in places (if you’re unsure flip a corner to see).

20140824_134759 20140824_13491220140824_135121(0)Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make Naan

Serve hot with Paneer Tikka Masala or Butter Chicken or any other thick saucy curry.  If you don’t have a large skillet or tawa, divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls and make smaller naan.  I like to make larger naan because it saves on cooking time and I’m just kind of lazy like that.  They’ll both taste delicious so either is fine.  This is a basic naan recipe that can be customized to your taste.  I like this basic version the best as I can add different toppings to create variety through a wide range of different flavours without a lot of additional work.  One of the benefits of making naan at home is that it allows you to control the fat content, which can cut calories and that’s something most of us can avoid if we can.  You can do this by using a healthier oil or oil substitute and brushing on margarine instead of butter or leaving it out altogether.  You can also use a lower fat milk or skim milk or low fat yogurt to cut more calories.  You can also add more nutrition by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for half of the all-purpose flour.  This is such a delicious dish that you may not go back to buying naan again.

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Chettinad Nandu Masala– Crab Curry in the Chettinad Style

Serves 4 – 8

Just thinking about this amazingly rich and delicious crab curry makes my mouth water!  You would expect such a lip-smackingly yummy and complexly flavoured dish to be difficult to make with a long list of exotic and expensive ingredients.  However, this is a very easy dish to make and comes together in a less than half an hour.  The best part is that most of the ingredients, with the exception of the crab, would be found in a well-stocked pantry or fridge.  If you do not have or cannot find curry leaves, substitute a handful of coriander leaves.  It won’t impart the same flavour, but it’ll accomplish the task of adding a bold, green flavour to the dish.  The paste for the dish is something that can be called a ‘mother paste’ for Chettinad cooking.  You can use it as the base for many curries.  The Chettinad Shrimp Masala uses a similar base with the addition of coriander and tomatoes.  It’s an easy to make paste since it requires no cooking.  You just have to throw in all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and voila, the base for your Chettinad curries is ready.  The Chettinad district is in the Tamil Nadu state of India and is widely known for its delicious and aromatic cuisine.  The Chettinad style of cooking is famous throughout India for boasting some of the most sought after recipes and this crab curry is no exception.

This crab curry is thick and saucy with a beautifully balanced flavour that’s enhanced by the natural flavour imparted to it by the addition of the crab.  I’m using Dungeness crabs, but you can substitute with blue swimmer crab if this is not available.  Ensure that you crack the claws prior to cooking so that as much of the flavour from the curry can be absorbed into the succulent flesh.  I’m also using coconut milk instead of scraped coconut for this dish.  Scraped coconut is traditionally added to the paste, but I find that coconut milk makes not only a smoother curry, but also a much tastier one.  If you can, extract your own coconut milk for this dish as this brings out the tastiest results, but if you can only find canned coconut milk then that’s alright as well.  Do not use any other type of milk.  This is one of my absolute favourite dishes and it may just become your favourite so let’s get started.

Chettinad Nandu Masala– Crab Curry in the Chettinad StyleChettinad Nandu Masala– Crab Curry in the Chettinad Style Chettinad Nandu Masala– Crab Curry in the Chettinad Style Chettinad Nandu Masala– Crab Curry in the Chettinad StyleChettinad Nandu Masala– Crab Curry in the Chettinad Style

Chettinad Nandu Masala – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 large Dungeness crabs, cleaned, cut into quarters and claws cracked and separated (or 4 blue crabs, cleaned and cut in half)
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp. fennel seeds (optional)
  • 2 medium sweet onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp. ground dry red chilies
  • 1 ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • 3 tsp. good quality garam masala or biryani masala, divided
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • Salt, or to taste
  • 2 tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. tamarind pulp, seeds removed and dissolved in ½ cup warm water
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • ½ – 1 tsp. sugar
  • Curry leaves, to garnish

In a blender or food processor puree the following ingredients together until smooth (add a little bit of water if necessary):

  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2” piece ginger, chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, leaves separated and stem discarded
  • 4 – 5 green chilies, chopped

Instructions

  1. Once the crab is cleaned and cut, sprinkle liberally with salt and set aside to marinate.
  2. While crab is marinating, heat oil in a large, heavy-bottom pan set on medium-high; add mustard seeds and fennel seeds and sauté until they start to splutter.
  3. Add onions and continue to sauté until soft.  Add the garlic/ginger/green chili/curry leaves paste and sauté until the mixture no longer smells raw, 2 – 4 minutes.
  4. Mix in the tomato puree and cook until the mixture comes to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to medium and add the ground dry red chilies, 1 tsp. garam masala, coriander power, turmeric and pepper and sauté until most of the moisture evaporates and the oil starts to separate, 4 – 5 minutes.
  6. Add the crab and ensure that the masala coats the crab pieces well and sauté for about a minute.
  7. Add water, cover and cook for 5 minutes.  Uncover, add the tamarind mixture, mix well until combined, cover and continue to cook for another 5 – 6 minutes or until crab is cooked through.
  8. Add coconut milk, stir and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the rest of the garam masala, sugar, fenugreek seeds and cook for another minute.  Taste test and adjust seasoning if required.
  9. Turn heat to low and cook until desired consistency is achieved.  If you want a thin curry then 3 – 5 should be fine.  For thicker curry, leave on low heat for about 10 minutes and if you like it somewhere in the middle like me, then 7 – 8 minutes.

Chettinad Nandu Masala– Crab Curry in the Chettinad StyleChettinad Nandu Masala– Crab Curry in the Chettinad Style20140726_122144

Remove to serving bowl, garnish with curry leaves and serve with cooked white rice or pittu.  The extra time at the end the curry spends over low heat is what allows all the flavours to mingle, which makes for a supper yummy, finger licking good crab curry.  If you like Chettinad dishes, also try the Chettinad Chicken Curry as well.  For a thinner crab curry, try the Jaffna Style Crab Curry recipe or try both and see what you like.

Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp Curry

Serves 4

This Chettinad Shrimp Masala is so delicious, rich, and absolutely addictive.  Yes, this is addictive!  If you thought Butter Chicken was addictive, wait until you try this.  This recipe is inspired by the flavours of the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu in South India, which is well known for its food throughout India.  This is one of the most flavourful Indian dishes and is the perfect masala for baby shrimp.  Cooking this with baby shrimp ensures that you get a few shrimp in each bite along with the lip-smackingly good masala.  The baby shrimp remain juicy on the inside while they are slightly browned on the outside.  Grinding or blending most of the ingredients ensures that the masala is smooth in texture as well as uniformly rich in flavor.  Once you taste this dish, you may not go back to cooking shrimp curry any other way again.  Let’s get started.

Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp CurryChettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp Curry Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp Curry

Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Recipe

Ingredients

For Marinade

  • 1lb of baby shrimp, cleaned and shells removed (frozen baby shrimp works well, make sure to thaw in cold water for 2 minutes prior to marinating)
  • ½ tsp. ground dry red chilies
  • ¼ tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. salt

For Paste

  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1” piece ginger, chopped
  • 3 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, leaves separated from stem
  • ¼ cup coriander, tough stems discarded

For Masala

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 – 2 tsp. ground dry red chilies
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. garam masala or biryani masala, divided
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk, divided

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients under ‘Marinade’ and set aside. Grind or blend together all ingredients in the ‘Paste’ section in a food processor or blender, set aside.
  2. Add oil in a large, heavy bottom skillet set over medium-high heat; add mustard seeds and sauté until they start to splutter.
  3. Add onions and continue to sauté until onions are soft. Add the ground paste and sauté until no longer raw, 2 – 4 minutes.
  4. Add the ground dry red chilies, ground coriander, turmeric, 1 ½ tsp. garam masala and salt to taste and continue to sauté, 2 minutes. The onion will start to melt into the rest of the masala.
  5. Add shrimp and combine well with the masala. Sautee for 1 minute, add ¾ cup of the thick coconut milk, mix well to combine and continue to sauté for another minute until shrimp is cooked through.
  6. In order for the shrimp to sear nicely, reduce heat to medium and do not stir masala more than once every minute for about 6 – 8 minutes or until the masala has reduced to a thick consisency.
  7. Add rest of the garam masala and the thick coconut milk and stir until well combined and cook until warmed through. Turn off heat and let masala sit for about 5 minutes prior to serving.

Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp CurryChettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp Curry

This masala should be nice and thick, but not dry.  Serve with cooked white rice, roti or naan with Coriander Chutney on the side.  The time you allow for the masala to reduce and the shrimp to sear is what makes this dish so yummy.  The baby shrimp have a nice texture and soak up a lot of the flavor as you do this.  My favourite way of eating this is mixed with plain white rice.  Or is it mopping up every last bit of the masala with garlic naan?  I can’t decide and when you try this dish, you may not be able to either.

Masala Dosa – Mysore Style Paper Thin Lentil Crepes Filled with Savoury Potato Masala

Serves 8 – 10

Masala dosa is a South Indian dish popular throughout not just India, but anywhere there are Indian restaurants.  Paper thin lentil and rice flour (usually) crepes are filled and folded with mouthwatering, savoury, amazingly flavourful potato masala and served with assorted condiments such as spicy chutneys and tangy sambars.  There are many differnt ways to make dosas, but this is my mom’s recipe and it’s one of my favourites.  It’s a comfort food for many and is often enjoyed for breakfast in South India.  However, we’ve always enjoyed it for dinner in my family.  I love them and I hope you will too!

The masala is a flavourful and savory potato saute that’s quite different from the usual curries.  This is the yummiest potato curry I’ve had in quite a while.  It’s so savory and delicious that you’ll become totally hooked.  It’s amazing as a stuffing for masala dosas, but is also great with rice and flat breads as well.  Best of all, it’s one of the easiest curries to make and can be enjoyed by even those who are usually afraid of Indian food as it’s not spicy.  It’s flavoured by turmeric, coriander, lemon juice and curry leaves so curry enthusiasts will definitely not miss the usual notes of spice found in most Indian curries.  Make the masala prior to cooking the crepes and keep warm until ready to roll up.  Let’s get started.

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Dosa – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup urad dhal, soaked in water for 3 hours or overnight
  • 1 cup white rice, soaked in water for 3 hours or overnight (I like Jasmine rice for this)
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 1 tsp. fenugreek seeds, soaked in water with the urad dhal
  • Salt to taste
  • 5 – 6 cups water
  • Oil, for greasing pan

Instructions

  1. In a blender or food processor, add urad dhal and fenugreek seeds and enough water (2 – 3 cups) and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.
  2. Into the same blender or food processor add the soaked rice and 1 cup of water and blend into a coarse paste.  Add into same bowl.
  3. Add the semolina and enough salt and mix well.  Taste test and add more salt as needed.
  4. Cover and let ferment in a warm place overnight or until ready to make dosas.
  5. When ready to make dosas, place a crepe pan or tawa over medium heat.  Uncover the fermenting mix, it should smell slightly sour.
  6. Add enough water until it’s pouring consistency (similar to crepe batter) and add more salt as needed.
  7. Grease the crepe pan or tawa with a little bit of oil and pour a ladle full (1/4 – 1/3 cup) of batter in the centre.  Immediately swirl a concentric circle on top of the batter with the back of the ladle pushing out batter into a large circle.  Let it set.
  8. You can drizzle a little bit of oil on top if you want in order to to make it crispier.  Flip over and let it toast for a few seconds and remove to plate.
  9. Repeat until batter is used up or you have made enough dosas.  The batter will keep in the fridge for a couple of days so you do not have to use it all at once.  Remove from fridge and let it come to room temperature and add enough water to bring it to pouring consistency again prior to making dosas.

Potato Masala – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 – 4 potatoes, cubed, boiled and skin removed (I used a bag of baby potatoes and sliced them in half)
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 white onion, sliced thin
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ inch piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp. ground dry red chilies
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ¼ – ½ cup water
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. ghee (substitute butter or margarine or oil

Instructions

  1. Melt ghee in a large, heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat.  Add mustard seeds and once they start to splutter add ginger, green chilies and curry leaves.  Sautee until fragrant, 1 minute.
  2. Add onions and salt and sauté until they start to lightly brown.  Add turmeric and sauté until well combined.
  3. Add cubed potatoes, stir well and sauté until potatoes are well coated.  With the back of a spatula mash some of the potatoes coarsely, but do not over mash.
  4. Lower heat to medium-low and add ground dry red chilies, enough water to cover potatoes half way, cover pot and cook until potatoes are mushy and all the water has evaporated.  You can mash the potatoes a little bit more until desired consistency is achieved.  The mixture should, however, not be runny.
  5. Add lemon juice, coriander and season with more salt according to taste, mix well and remove from heat.  Potato masala should be savoury.

Place dosa on a serving plate, add masala in the centre and fold dosa over into a triangle or roll up.  Serve with spicy chutney or sambar.

Pictorial
Dosa

  1. In a blender or food processor, add urad dhal and fenugreek seeds and enough water (2 – 3 cups) and blend until smooth.  Pour into a large bowl.
  2. Into the same blender or food processor add the soaked rice and 1 cup of water and blend into a coarse paste.  Add into same bowl.
  3. Add the semolina and enough salt and mix well.  Taste test and add more salt as needed.
  4. Cover and let ferment in a warm place overnight or until ready to make dosas.

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  1. When ready to make dosas, place a crepe pan or tawa over medium heat.  Uncover the fermenting mix, it should smell slightly sour.
  2. Add enough water until it’s pouring consistency (similar to crepe batter) and add more salt as needed.

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  1. Grease the crepe pan or tawa with a little bit of oil and pour a ladle full (1/4 – 1/3 cup) of batter in the centre.  Immediately swirl a concentric circle on top of the batter with the back of the ladle pushing out batter into a large circle.  Let it set.

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  1. You can drizzle a little bit of oil on top if you want in order to to make it crispier.  Flip over and let it toast for a few seconds and remove to plate.
  2. Repeat until batter is used up or you have made enough dosas.  The batter will keep in the fridge for a couple of days so you do not have to use it all at once.  Remove from fridge and let it come to room temperature and add enough water to bring it to pouring consistency again prior to making dosas.

Potato Masala
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  1. Melt ghee in a large, heavy-bottom pan over medium-high heat.  Add mustard seeds and once they start to splutter add ginger, green chilies and curry leaves.  Sautee until fragrant, 1 minute.
  2. Add onions and salt and sauté until they start to lightly brown.  Add turmeric and sauté until well combined.

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  1. Add cubed potatoes, stir well and sauté until potatoes are well coated.  With the back of a spatula mash some of the potatoes coarsely, but do not over mash.
  2. Lower heat to medium-low and add ground dry red chilies, enough water to cover potatoes half way, cover pot and cook until potatoes are mushy and all the water has evaporated.  You can mash the potatoes a little bit more until desired consistency is achieved.  The mixture should, however, not be runny.

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  1. Add lemon juice, coriander and season with more salt according to taste, mix well and remove from heat.  Potato masala should be savoury.

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Serve rolled in dosa with spicy chutney on the side for a traditional South Indian masala dosa or enjoy with cooked rice or flat breads.  It’s also a great stuffing for buns and tastes even better the next day.

Chicken Biryani – The Best

Serves 6

Happy Canada Day!  What better way to celebrate Canada’s diversity than with an amazing dish that many Canadians have embraced as their own:  chicken biryani.

Chicken biryani is one of the most recognized dishes from India and it has a long history that’s as complex as its flavour.  Originally the biryani was brought to India by the Moguls and was dish enjoyed primarily by the royal court.  Even though it started off as a mild dish it soon became imbued with the addition of Indian spices, which sparked the evolution of many regional variants of biryani.

Its complex flavours and aromas have inspired entire books and many restaurants are dedicated solely to serving an array of biryanis.  Often, people look at the long list of ingredients that accompanies any authentic chicken biryani dish and are either intimidated away or turn away because they don’t have a fully stocked Indian pantry.  White a good biryani requires quality ingredients, time and a careful observance of the instructions it doesn’t have to be intimidating or frustrating.  What to remember is that many of the ingredients are repetitive as they’re listed separately by process and when looked at together on a shopping list it’s not that many.  Many ingredients can also be substituted and I will list acceptable substitution options right next to the ingredients to make it easier and less expensive.  However, there are certain ingredients that are a must such as a good quality biryani masala or garam masala (freshly ground preferably or at least ground with in last couple of months), whole spices, ghee, coriander and basmati rice.  These are what give chicken biryani its distinctive flavour, aroma and taste.  The ingredients are broken down into separate procedures to make it easy to follow.  The pictorial guide is divided by time frame as well as procedures so you can follow it along in chronological order.  Let’s get started.

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Chicken Biryani – Recipe

Ingredients

For the Marinade

  • 10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 ½” piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 -2 green chilies, roughly chopped (substitute red chilies or ½ tsp. ground dry red chilies)
  • 1 Tbsp. ground dry red chilies (substitute 1 tsp. of a spicier ground chili pepper)
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp. biryani masala (see below or substitute with good quality garam masala)
  • ½ lime, juiced (substitute equivalent amount of lemon)
  • 4 Tbsp. plain yogurt, heaped (any type works)
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 6 – 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cleaned, fat trimmed, cut in half and patted dry (can use chicken breast of a combination of chicken breast and chicken thigh, but keep the pieces fairly large)

For the Biryani masala (makes 5 Tbsp.)

  • Grind together : 1 cinnamon stick, 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, ½ tsp. fennel seeds, 10 cardamom pods, 6 cloves, 10 pepper corns, Small piece of lichen (optional), 1 casing of mace (optional), ½ nutmeg (optional)

For the Fried Onions

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thin
  • Salt, to taste

For the Chicken Tikka Curry

  • ½ the fried onions
  • ½ the marinade puree
  • ¼ cup milk (any type works)
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste, heaped (substitute ½ cup tomato puree, but will take longer to cook)
  • Chicken tikka pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. coriander, thick stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. mint leaves, stems discarded and roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tsp. ground dry red chilies (optional)
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander (optional)
  • Salt, to taste

For the Rice

  • 3 cups Basmati rice, washed and soaked in water for 1 hour
  • 1 small stick cinnamon
  • 6 cardamom pods, cracked opened
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. oil (or margarine)
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt
  • 10 cups water

For Assembling (divide each in three)

  • 1/2 the fried onions
  • ½ cup coriander, thick stems removed and roughly chopped
  • ½ cup mint leaves, stems discarded and roughly chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. ghee
  • Few strands saffron in 3 Tbsp. milk, warmed in the microwave for a few seconds
  • Few Drops red food colour (optional)
  • Cooked rice
  • Chicken tikka curry (divide in two)

Instructions

  1. Puree all ingredients in the marinade section (except the salt and chicken) in a blender or food processor until completely smooth.
  2. In a large, nonporous dish add the chicken and salt and toss until chicken is well coated.
  3. Add half the puree to the chicken and mix well until all the chicken pieces are well coated in the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. Cover the rest of the marinade and refrigerate until ready to cook biryani.
  5. When chicken is marinated, wash and soak the Basmati rice for one hour.  At this point, also take the marinated chicken and the reserved puree out of the fridge and leave it to come to room temperature.
  6. Set oven on the ‘broil’ setting.  This could be anywhere from 500 – 550 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the oven.  Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and broil until chicken is almost cooked and starts to brown, about 15 minutes.
  7. Turn off oven, remove and let cool while you start cooking the rice and curry.
  8. Heat oil in a heavy-bottom, non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add thinly sliced onions and salt and fry until golden brown.  Remove half and drain on a paper towel and set aside.
  9. At the same time, add all ingredients in the rice section (except the rice) in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil.
  10. Once the water comes to a boil (should be about the same time you finish cooking the onions) taste the water to make sure it’s seasoned properly and then add in the rice.  Bring temperature to medium and cook rice until 75% done, about 8 – 10 minutes.  Drain and set rice aside.
  11. While the rice is cooking make the curry.  Bring the pan with the remaining onions to medium-low heat and add the reserved puree and milk and mix together.
  12. Once heated through add the tomato paste, mix well and bring to a simmer.
  13. Add the chicken pieces, coriander, mint leaves, water and continue to simmer until curry starts to thicken and chicken is cooked through.
  14. Taste test for seasoning and spices; I add more ground dry red chilies, ground coriander and salt to taste.  Continue to simmer until most of the moisture is evaporated, oil is released from the chicken and you are left with a nice thick sauce, 5 minutes.  Turn stove off and set aside.
  15. To assemble and cook biryani, set a heavy-bottom pot on top of flat crepe pan or tawa and place over low heat.  This will prevent bottom layer from burning.
  16. Add a third of the rice into the pot and spread out evenly.  Sprinkle with a third of coriander, mint leaves, saffron milk, ghee and food colouring (if using).  Add half the chicken tikka curry on top and spread out evenly.  This is layer one.  Repeat this process twice more (once more for the chicken) until all ingredients are layered.
  17. Cover this pot tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil (use oven gloves if the pot is hot) and place a tight fitting lid or flat plate with anything heavy to weigh it down on top.  This will prevent the steam from escaping.
  18. Cook for 10 minutes or until rice is completely cooked through.  Carefully remove the aluminum foil to let the steam escape, test rice for doneness and gently mix so some of the gravy from the chicken tikka curry coats the rice.  You should have three to four different colours of rice at this point: yellow (from the saffron milk), reddish orange (from the chicken tikka curry), white (from the uncoated rice) and small areas of red (from the food colouring – if using).

For the Marinade and Biryani masala

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  1. Puree all ingredients in the marinade section (except the salt and chicken) in a blender or food processor until completely smooth.
  2. In a large, nonporous dish add the chicken and salt and toss until chicken is well coated.
  3. Add half the puree to the chicken and mix well until all the chicken pieces are well coated in the marinade.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
  4. Cover the rest of the marinade and refrigerate until ready to cook biryani.

Prep – Soak Rice and Broil Chicken

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  1. When chicken is marinated, wash and soak the Basmati rice for one hour.  At this point, also take the marinated chicken and the reserved puree out of the fridge and leave it to come to room temperature.
  2. Set oven on the ‘broil’ setting.  This could be anywhere from 500 – 550 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the oven.  Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and broil until chicken is almost cooked and starts to brown, about 15 minutes.
  3. Turn off oven, remove and let cool while you start cooking the rice and curry.

Fry Onions and Boil Water

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  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottom, non-stick pan over medium-high heat, add thinly sliced onions and salt and fry until golden brown.  Remove half and drain on a paper towel and set aside.
  2. At the same time, add all ingredients in the rice section (except the rice) in a large pot, cover and bring to a boil.
  3. Once the water comes to a boil (should be about the same time you finish cooking the onions) taste the water to make sure it’s seasoned properly and then add in the rice.  Bring temperature to medium and cook rice until 75% done, about 8 – 10 minutes.  Drain and set rice aside.

For the Chicken Tikka Curry

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  1. While the rice is cooking make the curry.  Bring the pan with the remaining onions to medium-low heat and add the reserved puree and milk and mix together.
  2. Once heated through add the tomato paste, mix well and bring to a simmer.
  3. Add the chicken pieces and water.

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  1. Add coriander, mint leaves, water and continue to simmer until curry starts to thicken and chicken is cooked through.
  2. Taste test for seasoning and spices; I add more ground dry red chilies, ground coriander and salt to taste.  Continue to simmer until most of the moisture is evaporated, oil is released from the chicken and you are left with a nice thick sauce, 5 minutes.  Turn stove off and set aside.

For Assembling

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  1. To assemble and cook biryani, set a heavy-bottom pot on top of flat crepe pan or tawa and place over low heat.  This will prevent bottom layer from burning.
  2. Add a third of the rice into the pot and spread out evenly.  Sprinkle with a third of coriander, mint leaves, saffron milk, ghee and food colouring (if using).  Add half the chicken tikka curry on top and spread out evenly.  This is layer one.  Repeat this process twice more (once more for the chicken) until all ingredients are layered.
  3. Cover this pot tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil (use oven gloves if the pot is hot) and place a tight fitting lid or flat plate with anything heavy to weigh it down on top.  This will prevent the steam from escaping.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes or until rice is completely cooked through.  Carefully remove the aluminum foil to let the steam escape, test rice for doneness and gently mix so some of the gravy from the chicken tikka curry coats the rice.  You should have three to four different colours of rice at this point: yellow (from the saffron milk), reddish orange (from the chicken tikka curry), white (from the uncoated rice) and small areas of red (from the food colouring – if using).

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To serve, carefully remove chicken biryani to a large serving dish.  You can sprinkle with coriander and/or mint leaves to garnish and serve with a simple yogurt raita (recipe follows) and mango lassi.  Although the biryani is not very spicy, the raita and lassi will help cleanse the palate so you can enjoy every bite of the chicken biryani.  As soon as you remove the aluminum foil to release the steam you’ll smell the wonderfully tempting aromas of the chicken biryani.  The coriander, mint, biryani masala, whole spices, the chicken tikka and saffron will each compete to greet your nostrils.  This is definitely a dish you first enjoy with your sense of smell.  Then the flavours just explode in your mouth as soon as you take a bite.  A good chicken biryani should be a feast for the senses and by following this recipe and the pictorial guide you can make a perfect chicken biryani every time.

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Yogurt Raita (combine)

  • 1 cup yogurt, 2 Tbsp. coriander (roughly chopped), 2 Tbsp. mint leaves (roughly chopped), Salt to taste, ½ lime (juiced).