Saturday, May 9, 2009

Biryani Rice Served with Chicken Curry

Indian cuisine is well-known for its menagerie of exotic spices that bequeath the dishes from this sub-continent its unmistakably potent and spicy flavor. An unforgettable feast for all your senses, Indian curries and assorted spiced rice may be the most basic components of a typical Indian family's daily meal but they are oh so delicious and sweat-inducing! For this entry, I will outline how to make the spiced rice.

The spiced rice you see here is known as biryani, popular in South Asia and parts of the Middle East. To make biryani, start with basmati, a variety of long grain rice, cultivated mainly in India and Pakistan. Notable for its fragrance and flavor, basmati is highly suitable for this application. Before you even attempt to make biryani, make sure that you have the following special spices on hand: cumin, coriander, bay leaves, tumeric, cloves, fresh ginger (pureed), cinnamon (not powder but sticks), paprika, mint leaves, cardamom and ghee (or regular unsalted butter if ghee is not available). Ghee is a type of clarified butter that is typically used in Indian cooking and it adds great aroma and taste to any dish.

Start by washing the basmati rice and drying it on a paper towel. Then chop up some garlic and onions and brown them in a pan with ghee, together with one or two cinnamon sticks and the pureed ginger. Cooking the cinnamon this way draws out the oils and smell of the spice. Then add the rest of the special ingredients I mentioned above together with some water. The tumeric and paprika will give the rice a nice yellow and red color. Bring these ingredients to a boil and add the washed basmati rice together with salt and pepper to taste. Cook everything (make sure to evenly coat the rice with the fragrant mix) for a few minutes and then add the correct cups of water (depending on how much rice you used) to the pot and cover. To give extra body to the biryani, I add raisins and green peas to the mix as well. Cook on low heat.

Serve the biryani together with some chicken curry (made separately) and you have yourself an authentic Indian meal.

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