Chicken Tikka Biryani
- Serves 6
Biryani, to me, defines Indian food. Originally brought into India by the Moguls in the form of Persian Pilaf, the chefs of the empire fused it with Indian Pulav, and it evolved into this luxurious blend of spiced meat and basmati rice. There are now multiple versions of this dish, depending on which state in India you are in, "Hyderabadi Dum Biryani" being the most famous.
My recipe here is that of a more modern version, Chicken Tikka Biryani, where chunks of succulent tandoori chicken are steamed with aromatic basmati rice, rose water, quality garam masala, raisins and nuts. Traditionally, the steaming process involves cooking layers of chicken and spice-infused rice on very low fire. However, I have taken a more modern approach here, and baked it in the oven instead, resulting in faster and more even distribution of heat.
There are five steps to this recipe: marinating chicken tikka, cooking rice, pan-frying or grilling chicken, making the sauce, and putting together biryani. Remember to make the marinade a day ahead or at least 8 hours before cooking, as you do want to give your chicken enough time to absorb all those wonderful flavors from the spices. The recipe is quite simple and easy to follow, just a little time-consuming - a labor of love and patience, but sooooooo worth the effort.
A few things to remember:
1. Use good salt and use it liberally - the chicken, the rice and the sauce all need to be seasoned very well. My quantities here are based on pink salt, but you should know your salt well, and can add more or less as per your own palate.
2. Quality garam masala is key to this dish. Either make your own (I have the recipe included in my cookbook) or buy the best organic garam masala you can find. It should smell of cardamoms and cloves, and not like fennel.
3. The most prized part in biryani is the golden-crusty bit at the bottom, much like socarat in Spanish Paella and Persian Tahdig. Once cooked, use the back of the spoon to carefully scrape the bottom of the pan. If it doesn't feel crusty enough, cover and leave the pan on medium flame for five minutes, and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving.
4. I have pan-fried my chicken tikka here for ease, however grilling chicken on hot coals takes this recipe to a whole new level.
Enjoy the recipe and video for this "out-of-this-world" Chicken Tikka Biryani! And as always, leave any questions you may have in comments below.
Chicken Tikka Biryani Recipe Video
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Payal Thakurani is a cooking instructor, consulting chef, and author of the popular Southeast Asian cookbook “Curries for the Soul”. Originally based in Shanghai China, chef Payal has been in the food industry since 2012, working in training and brand development in central kitchens. She was also the proud owner of a cooking school and several food brands in Shanghai. She now lives in Singapore and heads Commune Kitchen in Downtown Gallery, where she hosts affordable, hands-on cooking classes for all ages.