Vijaya Selvarju helps us turn chicken tikka masala into a biryani with this simple recipe.
3 cups basmati rice
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
3 green cardamom pods
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup plain yogurt
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon finely grated garlic
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teapoon salt
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 4 pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated garlic
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon cayenne chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 cups strained tomato sauce (passata)
1 cup heavy cream
Salt, to taste
4 tablespoons boiling water
1 pinch saffron threads
3 tablespoons melted ghee
1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander
1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds
Preheat the oven to 400° F.
Place basmati rice in a bowl, and top with cold water. Massage grains with fingers until the water turns cloudy. Drain water, and repeat the process three to four times, or until the water runs clear. Soak for 30 minutes, then drain.
Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add bay leaf, star anise, cardamom, black peppercorns, salt, and drained basmati rice. Boil for three minutes, then drain into a colander. Set aside.
To create the marinade add yogurt, lemon, garlic, ginger, garam masala, and salt to a large bowl. Whisk to combine, then add in chicken. Mix well, and marinate for one hour.
Heat a large Dutch oven on medium-high, and add canola oil. Once hot, gently lower in the chicken pieces, ensuring not to crowd the pan, and brown for a few minutes on each side. The chicken doesn’t have to be cooked through at this point. Transfer to a bowl.
To the same pot add butter and onions, and cook until softened and translucent. Then add in garlic and ginger, and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Then add in cayenne chili powder, ground coriander, ground cumin, and ground turmeric. Toast the spices for 15 to 30 seconds.
Add strained tomato sauce and season with salt to taste. Simmer on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes stirring often, until the tomatoes have taken on a deep colour, and are jammy in texture.
Add chicken and heavy cream, and continue cooking for 10 minutes until glossy, and thickened.
Top the tikka masala evenly with the cooked rice.
Crush the saffron strands into the hot water and steep for three minutes. Once bright yellow in colour, pour the saffron water over the surface of the rice. Then drizzle the ghee over the rice.
Cover the Dutch oven with a large piece of aluminum foil, followed by the lid (to trap the steam). Transfer to the oven and bake for 12 to 14 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and uncover. Using a fork/spoon, gently fold the rice into the tikka masala base.
Garnish with fresh coriander, and toasted slivered almonds. Enjoy!