Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I had Ilaiy teach me how to make several of the Indian dishes he learned from his mother, but Biryani was one that got away from me. Luckily he was back in town a couple weeks ago, so I declared him Chef for a Day, and invited the masses over.

He used lamb, but I tried it again on my own, with chicken. He uses a lot more thai chili's and red pepper than the average human being can tolerate. I've noted below where we deviated from the original recipe to make it manageably kicky.

You'll have to be careful when you eat this. Indian families traditionally eat this with their fingers (no fork), working yogurt in to the rice, and setting aside the whole spices and leaves. If you're going to do it "your" way, you may end up spitting cloves.

You can find these spices, and the leaves at Annapoorna, in Champaign.

Biryani Ingredients

Vegatable Oil

3 sticks whole cinnamon
5 whole cloves
5 star anise
5 whole javentri
3-4 Bay Leaves
Handful black peppercorns (we left these out for company)
1, teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (we also omitted this, to reduce heat)

1 tomato, sliced
2 Onions, thinly sliced
Big chink of ginger
5 thai chilies (*he would normally use 10)
2 BULBs of garlic (about 20 cloves)

heaping teaspoon Cumin Powder
heaping teaspoon coriander powder
heaping teaspoon cayenne pepper

2.5 lbs. lamb (or chicken—I used chicken thighs)

About 5 c. rice

Mint Leaves about 1 cup
Curry Leave about 1 cup


Set the rice to soak in a roaster, before beginning cooking.

Fry the first 7 spices in a little oil, until their yummy aroma is released.

Add onions

Add Ginger, Garlic and Thai Chili's

Add Tomato

Sauté it til they brown . Add the Lamb (or chicken) and fry until brown.

Add chili powder, cumin and corriander , Salt to taste.

Transfer to a pressure cooker. Add a couple cups of water, mint and curry leaves, and cook in pressure cooker for about 15 - 20 min for lamb (I cooked the chicken for about 12 minutes)

Meanwhile, add saffron to about 1/4 cup of milk and simmer lightly to mix.

Drain the rice. Add the saffron & milk mixture, mix thoroughly. Ilaiy used his hands to mix this altogether, so I did too.

Add the lamb & spice mixture to the rice.

Bake at 450 for abt 20 minutes, or until the rice cooks.

Serve with plain yogurt on the side.