Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nice Rice with Spice


This month, the Daring Cooks challenge took us to India - land of the Biryani. We enjoy Indian food and were able to make two distinctly different (but both delicious) biryani dishes.

Our first dish was Chicken Biryani. We previously reviewed an Indian cookbook for the Daring Kitchen (My Indian Kitchen, by Hari Nayak) –so we thought it would be nice to use a recipe from there. We made Saffron Chicken biryani, and to cut a long story short it was very tasty. We won’t reproduce the recipe here, but it’s on page 128 if you have the book Smile. However, one point worth making is that the key to getting fluffy, separate grains of rice in your biryani is to soak that rice in several changes of water, for up to an hour or two before preparing it. Here is an outline to give some idea of the flavor profile:

- Make a marinade for the chicken using garlic, ginger, mint. cilantro, green chili, lime juice, yogurt and garam masala. Marinate chicken for a few hours

- Partly cook the (pre-soaked) rice with whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf and cloves)
- Fry onions in oil and remove; use the same oil to fry cumin and nutmeg powder
- Add the chicken with its marinade, and cook until browned.


- Add cilantro and mint, then cover with rice, drizzle with saffron milk and bake in a medium hot oven


Serve with the fried onions and cucumber raita:



Our second biryani for the month was inspired by the fresh corn that is currently available at our local farmers’ market (though we have also recently been inspired by moldy corn!) In this case, we reverted to our usual Monkeyshines procedure – look up a bunch of recipes, then make up our own way of doing it…

Corn Biryani


1 cup rice
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp oil
1 bayleaf, 1 cinnamon stick, 2 cloves and 3 cardamom pods
1 green chili ( as hot as you like!)
1 tsp ginger/garlic paste (equal amounts of minced garlic and ginger)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
3 ears of fresh corn kernels, sliced from corn cobs
salt and pepper

  1. Soak the rice for at least 1 hr, in several changes of water
  2. Drain the rice and cook in coconut milk + water + 1/2 tsp salt for 10 minutes
  3. Fry bayleaf, cinnamon and cardamom pods in the oil until fragrant
  4. Add ginger paste and fry for another ~30 seconds
  5. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes until on ion starts to brown
  6. Add tomatoes and green chili
  7. Grind the cumin and coriander seed, and add to the pan together with the turmeric
  8. Add the corn and cook everything together with salt and pepper to taste
  9. Mix the rice with the corn mixture and cook, covered, for 6-8 minutes.
  10. Serve garnished with coriander leaves


Grace, one of our talented non-blogging Daring Kitchen members, was our Daring Cooks’ August hostess who shared with us some of her family’s tried and true Bengali Biryani recipes – all of them delicious and all of them prepared fresh from our own kitchens!


  1. Yum -- both biryanis look so good, though I am partial to the chicken biryani!

  2. Oh, yum. That fresh corn in the mix must have been fantastic. Your biryanis looked so delicious - makes me want to try again!

  3. Looks delicious, both of them. Here in Hawaii we like our rice sticky, - easier to eat with chopsticks, I suppose. So not soaking it is one step easier.