Monday, June 6, 2016

Chicken Biryani | Ms. Marvel

          I finally read the first volume of Ms. Marvel (2014), featuring the awesome Muslim, Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan! I've been wanting to read it for a couple of years now, but only just got to it thanks to the Ladies' Comic Club I'm in :).

          Ms. Marvel: No Normal starts off with the main character sniffing "delicious, delicious infidel meat" (aka bacon, on an "easy greasy BLT"). The story moves ahead with fries, what looks like possibly chicken biryani (inspiring this post), tea, orange juice, more chicken and rice, and a slew of fun background food boxes and bags like "Radoslav's Fantabulous Hakka" ("hakka" often refering to a style of veggie noddles), "GM-O's" and "Crumulant Crunch" cereals, and "Low Hanging Fruit Juice" made with "adequate apple" and "pedestrian pear". There's also a "Cobra Hot Sauce" and a few other fun things to discover in the background ;). I haven't read the other volumes yet, but I'm looking forward to it; for the story, the artwork, and more food surprises.

Note: I read a lot of different biryani–and specifically Pakistani biryani–recipes and came up with this recipe using the general ideas I picked up. It's definitely not "the" way, as everyone seems to have their own way of doing it, but pretty much biryani is all about the layering and final cooking of a meat or veggie mixture and rice.
          I made the pictured biryani with potatoes because a few of the recipes I found said that Pakistani biryani is made that way, but then, looking around further, it doesn't seem like that's true 100% of the time. Because the comic shows the family eating the biryani with a side of fries (making it redundant if there were also potatoes in the biryani), I omitted the potatoes from the final recipe below.
          Also, after layering and cooking, I mixed my rice up too well, so it didn't get that nice white and yellow/orange coloration. I'm definitely going to make this again so it turns out prettier and then take more pictures :).


Chicken Biryani

Ingredients:
Yellow Coloring
1/4 Cup Water or Milk
1/2 tsp. Crushed/Crinkled Up Saffron Threads
Rice
2 Cups Basmati Rice
3 1/2 Cups Water
2 Tbsp. Oil
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cumin Seeds
3 Cloves
Tomato Puree
1 Large Tomato
Enough Water to cover the Tomato
Onion/Chicken Mixture
1/4 Cup Oil
2 Medium Onions, julienned
2 Large Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, rinsed & cut into bite-size pieces
1 tsp. Grated Fresh Ginger
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Long Cinnamon Stick
3 Cardamom Pods
3 Whole Cloves
1/4 tsp. Red Pepper Powder
2 Tbsp. Chopped Mint Leaves
2 Tbsp. Chopped Cilantro Leaves
1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt
2-3 Green Chilies, sliced (how many & what kind depends on how hot you want it)
1/3 Cup Chopped Dried Plums/Prunes OR Raisins (totally optional)

Directions:
1. Soak the saffron threads in the water or milk until needed (you can do this the night before). Rinse & soak the basmati rice for 30 minutes. Bring a large pot of water with salt, oil, cumin seeds, & cloves to a boil. Drain the soaked rice & pour the rice into the boiling pot. Bring it back to a boil & cook for 4-5 minutes, or until the rice is half done (the rice grains should still be uncooked in the center). Remove from heat, drain, & place in a large bowl nearby until ready to use.
2. In a medium pot, bring water to a boil. Slice an "X" on the bottom of the tomato & then plop it into the boiling water. Cook for about 2-3 minutes & then drain. The tomato skin should slip right off. Cut the peeled tomato into segments & pulse in a food processor until pureed. Set aside until ready to use.
3. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil & fry the onions until golden brown. Add in the chicken & cook until white on the outside. Stir in the ginger, garlic, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves, red pepper powder, & mint & cilantro. Next, add in the tomato puree, yogurt, & green chilies, & optional prunes/raisins. Cover & simmer on low until the chicken is tender.
4. Put a large pot on medium heat, add in 2 Tbsp. of water & then spoon in 1/2 of the rice. Pour the chicken mixture into the pot next, & then layer the rest of rice on top of it. Lastly, drizzle the saffron liquid over the top of the rice. Cover the pot tightly & cook on high for a few minutes, & then for about 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is completely done. When finished, only stir the rice a little bit, to distribute some of the color (I mixed mine too much so it's not very pretty :( ). Garnish with a little optional chopped cilantro &/or mint, & serve with french fries on the side.

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