Biryani: Spicy Indian Rice with Veggies & Chicken

So I cheated and bought a pre-made spice mix, or "masala" labeled as a kind for biryani. This is an Indian/Pakistani version of a casserole, but oh-so-much-better! Traditional recipes have you layering the chicken mixture with rice and baking, but I think the "stir fry" method is better- the rice soaks up more flavor.

Basic steps are: marinate chicken, cook rice, simmer onions and aromatics with spices, add chicken and gently simmer for 15 minutes, then add rice, and viola.

Start cooking basmati rice (we use a rice cooker). You will use the rice at the end.

Cut up chicken into bite-size-chunks. Marinate for 15 minutes or more in something like this (I just throw the garlic, chiles and onions into the food processor, then combine with the yogurt and other spices):
plain yogurt grated ginger minced garlic salt lemon juice minced serrano pepper minced shallot or onion black pepper cumin

While the chicken is marinating, fry sliced onions in a little oil or ghee.

In food processor, make a paste of onion, garlic, ginger, and serranos. Once the onions on the stove are browned, add this paste and stir, cooking for about 5 minutes.

Add dry spices, or cheat and use a biryani masala (buy at an Indian grocery store for $1-2) and bay leaves. Stir in and cook 2 minutes. Add chunks of tomato and cook covered for a couple more minutes.

Now add 2-3 C water and the marinated chicken. Bring the pot back up to boiling, then reduce heat to barely a simmer and cook the chicken gently for 15-20 minutes.

Once the chicken is cooked and most of the liquid has cooked down, add the cooked rice, one cup at a time until you get the right ratio of the two.

Garnish generously with cashews, raisins, frozen peas, and mint leaves. If you want to be extra fancy, fry the cashews and raisins in oil or ghee for a minute before topping the biryani. The oil puffs up the raisins and gives a flair to the cashews.

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