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Thursday, 20 December 2007

Chicken Pilaf / Briyani

Hail the Queen! Jenn, the Leftover Queen, organises a monthly Royal Foodie Joust where 3 ingredients are selected by the previous months winner. This month, the 3 ingredients were selected by last month's winner, Emeline of Sugar Plum. She chose to challenge us with :

Interesting choice of ingredients and something that me ponder long and hard over what to make. Should I go savoury or should I go sweet? I decided to take the path of a Savoury dish and made a Chicken Pilaf or some would call it a Chicken Briyani.
But first some history.....

What is the difference between a Briyani and a Pilaf. And for that matter, what's the difference between a Pilaf and a Pulao? Well firstly, Pulao is of Persian origin while Pilaf is the Indian name for the same type of dish. So basically, Pulao and Pilaf are the same thing.
Briyani (some spell it Biryani) and Pulao/Pilaf are a little different. Pulao is supposed to be where the meat and rice are stirred and cooked together. Briyani is supposedly where the rice and meat are layered and then baked in a special pot.
So, I'm not really sure what this dish should be because I cooked the rice and meat separately, but then stirred them together before baking it for a while. I guess that because I didn't the meat and rice, this would technically be a Pilaf.
Maybe I should just make it east and call it an Indian Paella!! Funny though isn't it how Pulao, Pilaf and Paella are all rice dishes with meat and cooked similarly (not the same, just similar).
So, how did I make this Chicken Pilaf? Well, having never attempted this dish before and faced with the challenge of using all the three different ingredients, as usual I winged it! This is what I did.

3 cups of basmati / fragrant rice
4.5 cups water
2 tsp turmeric
5 cloves
2 bay leaves
sprinkle of salt
3 handfuls of Fresh Pomegranate Seeds (1 fruit provides more than ample seeds)

1 large onion
1 clove garlic
1 inch ginger - ground into paste
500g Chicken Breast
3 tsp currypowder
1 tsp chilli powder
8 mint leaves - chopped
3 tsps yoghurt
1 large eggplant - cubed
150 gm brown mushrooms - sliced
100 gm Pistachios - chopped
Black Pepper

First, cut open the pomegranade and removed the seeds. Set aside. As you can see, my daughter was a real helper and she enjoyed removing the seeds!

wash the rice and then lightly fry the turmeric, cloves and bay leaves in some oil. Add in the rice and mix well till fragrant. Place rice in a rice-cooker or pot and add in two handfuls of pomegranate seeds. Cook the rice in a rice cooker (or stovetop) with the 4.5 cups water.

Cut chicken into large cubes. Season with salt, pepper and ground ginger paste. Sautee Onions and garlic and then add in curry powder and chilli powder and cook well being careful not to let it burn.

Add in sliced mushrooms and cook till tender then add in the eggplant. Continue to cook adding in some water if necessary. Add in 2/3 of the chopped mint leaves and continue to simmer.

Once rice is cooked, mix the rice together with the cooked chicken. Place chicken pilaf into a casserole dish and garnish with remaining mint leaves as well as chopped pistachios and another handful of pomegranade seeds. Cover with foil and bake for about 20 mins in a 180C oven

The result was a really tasty Chicken Pilaf that the kids and wife really enjoyed. The pomegranate gave the pilaf a light fruity taste every time you bit into one while the pistachios offered a lovely crunchiness. The mint had that nice subtle flavour that went really well with everything else.

I really enjoyed the Royal Joust this time around. Thanks to Emeline for the interesting choice of ingredients!


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

EXCELLECT choice for the joust Dharm!!! I still haven't decided what to make... I keep changing my mind.

Cynthia said...

This explanation was very instructive and useful. I have bookmarked for future reference.

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Lovely post I love biryani and made a wonderful south african one recently.

Emily said...

Your dish looks great! I love pilaf.

Anonymous said...

Hello Dharm,

Congratulations on winning the January Joust! Wonderful creative recipe, I'm glad you decided to go with a savory dish.

I'm a new member of the Left Over Queen forum and look forward to chatting with you.

Malar Gandhi said...

Love this Biriyani...nice write up on the pulav too. Picture looks great.


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