Biryani is a celebration of all that is great about Indian food – the heady aromas, the vibrant colours, the fluffy rice and those addictive curry flavours. Make this Chicken Biryani with your protein of choice – or try a vegetable biryani!
750g (1.5 lb) chicken thighs , skin on, bone in, halved along bone (Note 1)
2/3 cup (150 ml) yoghurt , plain
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
2 tbsp vegetable oil (or other plain oil)
6 garlic cloves , minced
2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne (adjust spiciness to taste)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp garam marsala (Note 2)
2 tsp coriander
1 tbsp cumin
2 tbsp paprika , sweet / ordinary (not smoked)
1 3/4 tsp salt
PAR BOILED RICE:
2 tbsp salt
5 dried bay leaves
1 star anise
6 green cardamon pods
2 1/4 cups (450g) uncooked basmati rice (Note 3)
CRISPY ONIONS (NOTE 4):
2 medium onions (yellow, brown) , halved and finely sliced
1 cup (250 ml) oil , for frying
1 tsp saffron threads (loosely packed) (Note 5)
2 tbsp warm water
1 cup coriander / cilantro , chopped
1/4 cup (60g) ghee or unsalted butter , melted (Note 6)
Crispy onions (above)
Chopped coriander / cilantro
Yoghurt (Note 7)
Mix Marinade in a large pot (about 26cm / 11" diameter). Add chicken and coat well. Marinade 20 minutes to overnight.
PAR BOILED RICE:
Bring 3 litres / 3 quarts water to the boil, add salt and spices.
Add rice, bring back up to the boil then cook for 4 minutes, or until rice is just cooked still a bit firm in the middle. Rice will taste salty at this stage, disappears in next stage of cooking.
Drain immediately. Set aside. (Note 10 re: leaving whole spices in)
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Cook onion, in batches, for 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. Don't burn - they become bitter.
Remove onto paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining onion.
Place in a bowl, leave for 10 minutes+.
Place pot with chicken in it onto a stove over medium heat. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Remove lid. Cook for 5 minutes, turning chicken twice.
Remove from heat.
Turn chicken so skin side is down - it should cover most of the base of the pot.
Scatter over half the onion then half the coriander.
Top with all the rice. Gently pat down and flatten surface.
Drizzle saffron across rice surface in random pattern, then drizzle over ghee.
Place lid on. Return to stove over medium heat.
As soon as you see steam, turn down to low then cook for 25 minutes.
Remove from stove, rest with lid on for 10 minutes.
Aim to serve it so you get nice patches of yellow rice, white rice, the curry stained rice + chicken (rather than all mixed up). To do this, use a large spoon and dig deep into the pot, and try to scoop up as much as you can in one scoop.
Turn out into bowl - or onto platter. Garnish with remaining onion and coriander with yoghurt on the side (see Note 7 for Minted Yoghurt)