Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cheat’s Chicken Biriyani (Khao Mok Kai-ข้าวหมกไก่อย่างง่าย)

In Thailand, Biriyani Rice is more Islamic than Indian. I remember when I was young we went to a wedding party at our family’s friend’s home on the river side in Bangkok. They cooked the Biriyani in 2 big pots. The pots were of old style with flat lids, a bit like kettle but no handles. The chicken was in chunks and the rice yellow and aromatic with turmeric and other spices. They marinated chicken chunks in yogurt and spices first before frying with ghee and then added rice and stock when the chicken pieces were brown. I tried cooking this a few times but it was quite tricky to get the rice perfectly cooked not under or over.

Then I came across this cheat’s recipe. It is not as difficult and complicated as the traditional one that you have to cook the meat with rice but the result is very good. I have tweaked the recipe from DameAlison Holst’s  original.

1 Portion Curry Sauce (recipe below)
2 cups cooked basmati or long grain rice
½ teaspoon chilli powder
5-7 each of whole cloves and cardamom
350 -400 grams boneless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
½ cup yogurt (unsweetened)
½  teaspoon salt, more if needed
Oil or ghee for frying
Deep fried Shallots (available from most Asian groceries)
Coriander leaves for garnish

Fry cloves and cardamom in a bit of oil/ghee in the frying pan on medium heat. Add chicken and chilli and fry for further 2 or 3 minutes. Add curry sauce and simmer gently until the chicken pieces are well cooked – add a little bit of water if it is too dry. Add yogurt and salt to taste. Simmer a few minutes further.

Combine cooked rice with chicken and sauce – you might not need all the sauce so add bit by bit until rice is well covered with sauce but not wet. If it is not salty enough you can add a little bit more salt at this stage. Pick out cardamoms and cloves as many as possible.Serve garnished with fried shallots and coriander leaves.

In Thailand, this dish is usually served with Cucumber Relish or A-Jad (see here) but here when I cook Biriyani, I opt for Yogurt Raita since Bob is not keen on cucumbers (fussy eater he is, meh).

Curry Sauce
2 Teaspoons Curry Powder (I use Hot/Medium)
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1 – 1 ½   Teaspoons Tumeric
3-4 Cloves of Garlic, chopped
3-4 Slices Root Ginger, chopped
2-3 Tablespoons chopped shallots - if you cannot find shallots, use Red onion
¾ -1 cup water plus 3 tablespoons
Ghee or oil for frying
Soak curry powder, turmeric and paprika in 3 tablespoons of water to make a paste and set aside.
Fry shallots, garlic and ginger in a little bit of oil on medium heat until fragrant. Add spice paste and a little bit more water and fry gently for 5 minutes then add the rest of water and simmer on low heat for another 5 – 10 minute. The paste will be thicker and aromatic. Set aside until needed.

Yogurt Raita
½ cup yogurt
1 clove of garlic
½ chilli, scrape out the seeds
1 spring onion , chopped
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoon coriander leaves

Put everything in a small food processor and blitz until well combined. Taste and add more seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate.

This Raita is also nice with other Indian style curry – you can also use it as a dip with Naan and Popadum. 

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