Monday, January 19, 2009

Cooking Light Mondays: Chicken Biryani

Today's recipe is an Indian dish. Biryani (beer-YAH-nee according to my food dictionary) can be all sorts of combinations of meat (or not), spices, some vegetables and rice. I love to order this when I go to Gateway to India. Almost as much as I love the Chicken Korma. Almost. Anyway, when I saw a recipe for it in this month's issue of Cooking Light, I knew it would be up next for Shrink My Butt Cooking Light Mondays. Yes, I know the strike through is getting old. But it still makes me laugh. So it stays.

Standard disclaimer: My photos are out of focus. Sorry. Still waiting for the Birthday Fairy to bring me a camera like my friend Kathy's. Or until I steal hers.

This is supposed to be a 30 minute recipe. HA HA HA. They have obviously never met me and my pedantic chopping skills. It took me an hour to chop everything. I'm not kidding. I am the slowest chopper in the world. I think I'm too picky on how it looks. Not that it matters, since it all gets cooked up, but that doesn't cause me to go any faster. So here's all the stuff I chopped.


Plum tomatoes

Chicken breast (bawk bawk!)

Ginger (the spoon works great to scrape off the skin)

Cilantro (these Pampered Chef shears work great for this)

Garlic (okay, I didn't so much chop as squish)


I use this little trick that I picked up somewhere for cutting peppers when you don't need the seeds or membranes. First of all, I put on one of these:

I learned the hard way a few years ago. If you get jalapeno juice on your hands, even if you've washed that hand thoroughly, rubbing your eye with said hand is a horrible idea. So now I'm better safe than sorry. Can you tell that I'm wearing it backwards? I must of lost/ruined the leftie. This is the righty turned around. Looks like my hand is on wrong.

I hold vertically and slice off the sides.

I get this without ever touching the seeds. My eyes are safe.

After all the chopping, I assembled the other ingredients.

Golden raisins

Garam masala
This is a mix of many different spices. Every one is different.

This is the first time I've purchased this so I wanted to know what it smelled like. I swear, I started salivating when I got a whiff. It smells exactly like an Indian restaurant. I wanted to eat some, but decided against it. I guess if I ever need a little pick me up, I will report to the spice rack.

Flavorless chicken broth (I don't want to be a spokesperson for Swanson)

The other ingredients were basmati rice, cumin, salt and sliced almonds and a lime for garnish. Here's how it all came together (once I finally finished all the chopping.)

Saute chicken for 3 minutes.

Add onion and jalapeno. Saute 3 more minutes.

Add ginger, garlic, garam masala, and cumin. Saute 30 seconds. Inhale deeply.

Add raisins, tomatoes, rice and broth. Stir up. Bring to a boil.

Cover, lower heat, simmer 15 minutes.

Stir in cilanto. Then you have this.

Unfortunately, this is not exactly what I was hoping for. If you see the picture of the recipe in the magazine, the rice is all fluffy and separated, the way rice is supposed to be. Mine was very, very mushy. There wasn't any water in the bottom, but the rice just wasn't the right texture. I ALWAYS have problems with rice. I either burn it or get it mushy, like this. Maybe I somehow insulted a gypsy, and she has put a rice cooking curse on me. Or maybe I just suck at something that couldn't be much easier.

On the whole, I liked this. However, it had much less flavor than I was expecting, especially with all those yummy spices. I've decided to blame the chicken broth for sucking up all the good flavor with its healthy flavorlessness. (Wow, I can't believe spell check is not screaming over the word "flavorlessness.") Sorry, Swanson, no love for you.

The recipe for Chicken Biryani is on the CL website if you'd like to try your hand at this dish. When I make it again, I will try chicken thighs even though I know they have more fat. The breast was just too dry for me. And maybe I can get lucky on the rice. I'm not sure what to do about the flavor problem. Maybe add another shot of spices after it cooks. You'd never know there was a jalapeno in there. I couldn't even taste the cilantro I added at the end, so I might up that, too. I really think this has potential. I'll work on it and get back to you. Or maybe I'll just get take out!


  1. Looks good, sorry the flavor wasn't there. Disappointed aren't we? Love the pic of Max you put up. Isn't he cute, and Tim talented?

  2. Yeah, I was sad about the flavor part, too. Especially as this was lunch all week. Oh well.

    And personally, I don't think green is a good color on him. Ha!


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