Chicken Biryani – or for that matter all biryani dishes are reserved for the most special of occasions.
I love the aroma of the rice and marinaded chicken when the lid is finally raised and the biryani is presented to our guests. The addition of yellow summer squash in this recipe is a sweet and tasty add-on that makes this chicken biryani even more spectacular.
You can make this chicken biryani year round but I like to make it in the Summer when we entertain outside a lot. It can easily be cooked on a covered BBQ but this recipe is for the stove top and conventional oven.
(Serves 6 People)
INGREDIENTS for the Summer Squash and Chicken Biryani
8 boned and skinned chicken thighs cut in half
500 ml Greek Yogurt
3 cups Onion Tarka (thinly sliced onions that have been fried until crispy)
6 cloves garlic – smashed and chopped
2″ ginger – grated
1 large bunch of coriander leaves
6 green chillies – finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon garam masala (preferable homemade)
300g diced yellow Summer squash
500g good quality basmati rice
3 black cardamoms
1 two inch stick cassia bark or cinnamon
3 bay leaves,
100g ghee or clarified butter
1 pinch of saffron infused in about 100ml warm milk
salt and pepper
Rose water (Optional)
flour and water
In a food processor, blend the yogurt, onion tarka, chillies, garlic, ginger, chillies and garam masala until smooth and creamy.
Throw in the chicken thighs and allow to marinade for eight hours or overnight.
For the rice
Soak the basmati rice in a bowl of water. Rinse the rice and change the water at least five times. Allow to soak for about two hours.
Place the rinsed rice in a sauce pan with a lid and add water so that the rice is covered by about one inch of water. Throw in the cardamom, cassia bark, bay leaves, cloves and a little salt and pepper.
Place the lid on the pot containing the rice and bring to a boil. When the water boils, take off the heat and allow to sit undisturbed for about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, take about a tablespoon of the ghee and place it in a large lidded pan capable of holding all of the ingredients comfortably.
Toss in the yellow squash cubes and move around in the ghee with a spatula. Let the squash brown slightly and then add the chicken pieces and all of the marinade. When the chicken is about 50% cooked, take off the heat.
Add a little salt and pepper.
Now add the rice covering the chicken and squash completely. Pour in the rest of the ghee, a couple sprinkles of rose water and the milk-saffron mixture. Try to move it all around on top with a fork to evenly distribute all these amazing ingredients.
You now need to make a soft dough with the water and flour. You are not eating the dough so it doesn’t need to be perfect.
Form the dough into a long snake shape and place it along the rim of the pan. Then, place the lid down firmly on the dough snake. The pot should now be sealed so that no air can escape.
Place on a low heat and let cook for about 30 minutes. You may wish to do this in your oven. If so, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees and allow to bake for 30 minutes.
When you are ready to serve, wait until everyone is sitting up to the table. Carry in your chicken biryani and slowly remove the lid. The room will be filled with an absolutely magnificent aroma.