A few nights ago I was having a massive craving for an Indian takeaway and really fancied a Chicken Biryani. So I decided to make my own in my Instant Pot Pressure Cooker. You can also make this recipe in the oven and I have included the *oven cooking details in my recipe.
I wanted to cook a Chicken Biryani which would taste as authentic as possible, from scratch, without cheating using sauce from a jar. I had recently reorgnised my spice drawer so was armed and ready with just about every possible curry spice ingredient I would need!
I researched several recipes and ended up tailor making my own version to my personal taste. I had never made a proper Chicken Biryani before but I could see that I needed a marinated meat layer containing yoghurt, lots of onions caramelized in ghee, spices, fresh coriander and mint, a basmati rice layer plus some water to generate steam in the pot. I didn’t have any ghee so I used butter and it worked out fine in the final dish. I used fresh mint which I had growing in my garden. That was pretty handy!
My first attempt was a bit of disaster with my meat layer starting to burn and the rice not cooking properly. My poor hubby was chewing his arm off with hunger at this point so I abandoned my Instant Pot method and he had to wait for me to finish off the dish in a frying pan on the hob. It didn’t taste too bad, not my best but certainly didn’t look pretty! I knew I could do better and was determined to have another go as I really LOVE biriyani.
My main issue was that I had skimped on the amount of butter I was using, I didn’t use enough water and hadn’t presoaked my rice. Also it is also important when sautéing the meat in your pot, to make sure that you scrape all the caramelized bits off the bottom of the pot and stir well into the meat before you top with rice, otherwise this can burn and prevent the pot coming up to pressure.
I cooked my final version with complete success and it tasted absolutely wonderful. There are quite a few stages and a bit of chopping but it’s worth the effort. I cooked mine in my Instant Pot but you could also cook in a casserole dish in the *oven at 180C/Gas 4 for 35 minutes. For oven cooking, cover your dish with a good lid or tightly with foil, crimping all around the edges to seal and ensure that the water in the recipe cooks the rice without evaporating.
This amount could easily feed 4 people on it’s own or more if you served a vegetable curry with it. My husband felt it would taste even better with some kind of sauce or vegetable curry so I made one the other night which we ate with the leftovers and will post the recipe shortly. The combination of the flavours of both dishes together was incredible. It’s also nice to make a simple raita from just plain natural yoghurt mixed with chopped cucumber to serve.
If you are saving any leftovers for the next day, remember to always cool rice very quickly and pop in the fridge as soon as you can for good food safety. Make sure you reheat the leftovers thoroughly until piping hot before eating. I just zapped mine in the microwave the next day.
When it had finished cooking I just opened the lid of my pot and couldn’t resist inhaling the lovely aromas. My husband had seconds so it must have been good! I’m glad I persevered as this really was a fabulous flavoured dish and was actually pretty filling. We were both stuffed! Delicious !
For the marinade
6 tablespoons of plain natural low fat yoghurt
a 1 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
7 crushed fresh garlic cloves
2 teaspoons of garam masala
1.5 tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
2 teaspoons of cardamon pods
half a teaspoon of turmeric
half a fresh finely chopped deseeded red chili
the juice of half a lemon
The rest of the ingredients
600g of boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into big chunks
75g or 3oz of butter
4 medium onions, peeled and sliced
2 cups of white basmati rice
2 cups of water
half a teaspoon of salt
3 tablespoons of milk
half a teaspoon of dried saffron
a few extra leaves of fresh coriander and optional sliced almonds to garnish
a few tablespoons of plain yoghurt mixed with some chopped cucumber to make a raita and serve alongside the biryani
1.First mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Add the chopped chicken thighs and stir. Cover and refrigerate of an hour or longer.
2. Put the rice in another bowl, cover with cold water and soak for at least half an hour. Set to one side.
3. Add the onions and 50g or 2oz of the butter to the Instant Pot and cook on the sauté mode, stirring constantly until the onions are golden brown and caramelized. This might take 10 to 15 minutes. (For the oven method, do this in a frying pan)
3. Remove half of the onions and put to one side. Add the chicken to the onions left in the pot, plus all the marinade and 25g or 1oz of butter to the Instant Pot. (For oven cooking do this stage in the same frying pan).
4. Cook on the sauté mode for 4 to 5 minutes , stirring continuously, scraping any caramelized bits off the base of the pot.
5. Drain the rice. Sprinkle the drained rice over the meat layer and gently pour over two cups of water. Sprinkle with half a teaspoon of salt. (For oven cooking do this in an oven proof casserole dish, cover tightly with foil or a lid).
6. Put the lid on the Instant Pot, turn the pressure valve to close and cook on Manual for 6 minutes followed by 5 minutes Natural Pressure release then Quick Release. For oven cooking, cook at 180C/Gas 4 for 35 minutes.
7. While the biryani is cooking soak the saffron in the milk in a cup and set aside
8. Prepare the raita side dish by mixing plain natural yoghurt with chopped cucumber and store in the fridge until you are ready to serve.
9. Once the cooking time is up, gently warm the milk and saffron mixture in the microwave for a few seconds. Warm the remainder onions in a separate pan for a minute or so. Add the onions to the top of the cooked biryani and pour over the warm saffron milk mixture.
10.Garnish with some extra fresh coriander leaves and also some sliced almonds if you fancy.
11. Serve up portions so that everyone receives some meat and some of the rice, topped with the coriander. Put the raita on the table for everyone to serve themselves. Enjoy!