A biryani consists of curried meat, poultry, fish or vegetables combined with basmati rice to make a complete meal. Here chicken curry is layered with the rice and baked, then served with a fresh cucumber raita.
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 large onion, chopped
450 g chicken thigh fillets, diced
10 g fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 small red or green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
seeds from 10 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
1 tin (415 g) no-salt-added chopped tomatoes
1¼ cups reduced-salt chicken stock
50 g sultanas
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
½ teaspoon turmeric
⅓ cup toasted flaked almonds to garnish
200 g natural low-fat yoghurt
½ large cucumber, coarsely grated and squeezed dry
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
pepper to taste
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Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and cook gently for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the chicken and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes until browned all over.
Stir in the ginger, chilli, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and peppercorns. Cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time to ensure the spices do not burn.
Add the tomatoes, the stock and sultanas. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C. Place the rice in a saucepan, add 600 ml water and the turmeric, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer very gently for about 7 minutes or until the rice is almost tender. Drain off any excess water.
Layer the chicken curry and rice in a casserole dish. Cover and cook in the oven for 25 minutes, checking after 20 minutes and adding a little more stock if needed (there should be enough liquid for the rice to complete cooking).
Meanwhile, make the raita. Stir together the yoghurt, cucumber and mint. Season with pepper.
When the biryani is ready, stir it well, then scatter the toasted almonds on top. Serve with the raita.
Eaten without the skin, chicken is low in fat and the fat it does contain is mostly unsaturated.