I never really liked to cook growing up, I never saw a need for it. My mom was an amazing cook and my sister loved cooking too, so why put another cook in the kitchen, right?
Then I became a mom and everything changed. When the kids started to eat solids, my instinct was not to give them jarred food, but to make it homemade. This way, I would know exactly what I was feeding them.
I actually remember my first attempt at making homemade baby food. It was peas and I even failed at that! Maybe I didn’t boil them enough or didn’t have enough liquid when I was blending, but it was not good. But I didn’t give up and kept at it. Soon I was making it all, even my own recipes for baby stew and baby curry.
Then as their palates expanded, so did my food preparing ability. I made hummus at home, guacamole, pasta sauces, smoothies, muffins, everything.
I also knew that I wanted my kids to eat the same food that my mom made for us growing up and since we didn’t live in the same city as our families at the time, that meant I had to make it.
A couple years back, I shared my mom’s recipe for Akni. It’s a one-pot dinner with chicken, potatoes and rice. Up till now, it’s still one of my most searched and view recipes on the blog!
Today I thought I would share another favourite, Mom’s Homemade Chicken Biryani. This is also a chicken, rice and potato dish, but it is made with different ingredients and has a very different taste. Once you try it, you’ll love it!
Ingredients for Biryani:
2 medium russet potatoes
1 large container of plain yogurt (750grams)
4 boneless chicken breasts, each one cut into three pieces
3 cinammon sticks
6-8 closed cardamom pods
1.5 full tbsps of minced ginger
1/2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp butter or ghee
1 tsp of salt (you can use more or less for your families taste)
1-2 tsps of yellow food coloring
5 fistfulls of fried onions (you can buy this in the ethnic food aisle)
1 small piece of charcoal (optional)
¼ tsp butter or ghee (optional)
Ingredients for Rice:
2 cups of basmati rice
2.5 cups of water
1.5 tsps salt
2 tsps of ghee or butter
yellow food coloring (optional)
The instructions are very simple and straightforward for the biryani, it’s actually a one-pot dish and it’ll taste great. There is an extra step, that is totally optional, that I’ll tell you about at the end that just takes the biryani to another level.
Instructions for Biryani:
1. Wash and soak your rice in warm water for about 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Clean the potatoes and cut each one into quarters. To ensure they are cooked fully and don’t break, coat the potatoes in oil and sprinkle salt. Then cook them in the toaster (or regular) oven for about half an hour. Make sure they are fully cooked through.
3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large pot on medium (make sure the pot has a lid that closes)
4. Add the yogurt, cut chicken breasts, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, garlic, ghee, salt and food colouring . Mix it all together until everything is well combined. Once it’s mixed, let it cook for 30-40 minutes on medium heat.
5. When the chicken is cooked, add the fried onions and cooked potatoes into the pot. Continue to cook on medium/low heat for 15 min until everything is well combined and cooked through.
Yes, it’s that easy. Now you just have to make the rice and I have instructions below if you need them. If you have some time and are so inclined, there is actually a way to take your biryani to the next level. It’s what my mom calls dhoongar. Loosely translated, it would mean smoking it with ghee. It’s a little complicated, but if you’re up to the challenge, here are the instructions.
Adding the Dhoongar to your Biryani:
1. Take a small piece of foil and make it into a bowl. Make a small hole in the center of your biryani and place the foil in the hole.
2. Put your charcoal in a pair of tongs. Then heat the element on high heat. Holding the charcoal in the tongs, place it on the hot element until the charcoal is hot and lit.
3. At the same time, take 1/4 tsp of ghee or butter, on a long metal spoon. Heat it on the element at the same time as the charcoal.
4. Once the charcoal is ready, put it in the small foil bowl. Drip all the melted ghee on the charcoal and quickly close the lid of the pot. Let it sit for 8-10 minutes. Then take out the charcoal.
Instructions for Rice: (You can make this while the biryani is cooking)
1. Put your ghee in a pot and turn the element on to medium. When the ghee is melted, add your washed and soaked rice in and stir it around for a few minutes.
2. Add 2.5 cups of water in the pot and mix it with the rice. Turn the temperature to high and bring it to a boil.
3. Then turn the temperature down to medium-low and simmer until the rice is completely cooked, usually about 20 minutes.
4. When the rice is cooked, add a few randomly placed drops of yellow food coloring on top and lightly mix it. (This is an optional step and is just for aesthetics) You can also sprinkle some fried onions over the rice.
This should make enough for 4-6 people, depending on their appetites. When serving, put rice in the plate first and then add the biryani mixture on top. You can serve it with cucumbers on the side as well as carrot pickle. The carrot pickle recipe will be coming up soon too (hopefully!)