It was an unusual Christmas for us this year. We were loaded up and ready to head east to spend time with family when illness hit. Since this is a food blog, I’ll spare all the details. So we returned home and unpacked everything that we had spent about 24 hours to pack. Between sickness and two snow storms, we figured it was a sign that we should stay put for Christmas. So, I was scrambling to come up with a Plan B. I hate scrambling. How do I entertain two kids under the age of four for the next two and a half weeks and what do I plan for our Christmas meal for just the four of us?
I was done with turkey after having it twice after Thanksgiving and I’m not a fan of ham. You know, all the nitrates. My mom suggested I make an Indian dinner consisting of chicken biriyani (think an Indian meat and rice casserole), baingan bharta (roasted eggplant yumminess), raita, and papads. Sometimes you just have to do what your mom says. My mom makes a big Indian spread every year for Christmas Eve and we really missed it. This meal was much easier than putting together a roast and all the trimmings and it’s really satisfying. Of course, after I was done cooking, I felt chills and had to opt out of enjoying the meal. Sigh.
What did you have for your holiday spread? I’ve got a ton of Sur La Table culinary goodies taking up major space in my basement so leave a comment and you could be entered to win a fun culinary prize! Winners will be announced by next Sunday, January 8th. Good luck!
Recipe Courtesy Of: Mercy Samuel
- 2-3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 2 small onions, sliced thin
- 3 to 4 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 whole cardamom pods
- 3 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 can tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 green chili, seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup mint leaves
- 4 lbs of boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can use bone-in legs and thighs but I prefer boneless)
- 3 cups of basmati rice, washed
- salt as desired
In a small food processor or blender, combine the ginger, garlic, green chili, cumin, cilantro and mint and pulse until it combines into a green paste.
In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over a medium heat flame. Add bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves until fragrant. Next add the onions and saute. When the onions turn golden, add the green paste and saute five minutes. Add the turmeric, chili powder, salt and tomato paste. Add the chicken pieces and saute for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, boil 8 cups of salted water in a large stock pot. Once the water is boiling, add washed basmati rice into the pot. Allow rice to boil over high heat for 7-10 minutes, until the rice is halfway cooked. Strain.
In a lightly greased casserole dish, first layer the chicken and rice and alternate with rice on top. Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
You can garnish the finished biriyani with a mixture of sautéed onions, cashews and raisins.
Note: This can feed a crowd so adjust accordingly to meet your family’s needs.