Recipe of the Month - October 2018 background image

Recipe of the Month - October 2018

Chicken Biryani
The ultimate one-pot dish, a biryani is a mixture of rice, spices and meat. However, no true Parsee would eat it without potatoes, so I’ve included some below. The dish tastes fantastic when freshly made, but is perhaps even better when reheated and eaten the next day.

We thought this month we would pick a recipe out of Cyrus Todiwala’s Recipe book. Read on here for a tasty Indian dish you can make at home.
Serves 4-6

Chicken Biryani


  • 1 x chicken bird 1.3kg (3lb), jointed into 8-12 pieces
  • 2-3 potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 3 litres (5¼ pints) water
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 400g (14oz) Basmati rice
  • A generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 20-25 fresh mint leaves, torn
  • 6-8 fresh coriander springs, chopped
  • A generous knob of butter
  • Salt
  • For the Marinade:
  • 500-600g (1lb 2oz–1lb 5oz) onions, sliced as thinly as possible
  • 200ml (7fl oz) extra virgin rapeseed, for frying
  • 250ml (9fl oz) thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of red chilli powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
  • 1½ tablespoons of ginger and garlic paste (see below)
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala (see below)
  • Lime juice from ½ lime
  • 2–3 large finger-type fresh green chillies, sliced lengthways into 4 strips
  • 1 × 400g (14oz) can of chopped or whole plum tomatoes
  • About 1 teaspoon of salt
  • To Serve:
  • Mixed raita (see below)
  • Daal such as my Parsee-style Toor Daal (see below)


First make the marinade. Put the onions into a bowl and rub them gently under running cold water. Drain well in a colander, then dry in a salad spinner or with kitchen paper.

Heat the oil in a deep pan. When hot, fry the onions in 3 separate batches until pale golden. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to a colander, where they will continue to brown in their own heat. The oil can be reused another time if cooled and strained.

Put all but 2 tablespoons of the fried onions into a blender, add the remaining marinade ingredients and whiz to a purée. You might need to do this in batches so that the machine can create a smooth paste and the motor doesn’t overheat. Transfer the mixture to a large flameproof casserole dish.

Trim any excess skin from the chicken pieces, then place the meat in the marinade. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and set aside in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. Transfer the casserole dish to the oven and cook for about 1 hour, until the chicken is tender. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for about 8–10 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside.

Put the measured water into a large saucepan with the bay leaves and some salt and bring to the boil. Add the rice and boil for roughly 6 minutes, until al dente. Drain well, reserving the water to make soup if you wish. Fork through the rice to loosen the grains.

Heat the saffron threads in a warm small frying pan over a gentle heat until they are crisp. Add 2–3 tablespoons of water and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Pour the saffron and its liquid over the rice while still in the colander and mix lightly to partially colour the grains.

When the chicken is ready, the sauce might look too thin or a bit oily, but don’t worry about that. Heat it, uncovered, for a few minutes to reduce it if you wish, but a generous amount of sauce is needed to finish the dish. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary, then add the fresh mint and coriander. Transfer the chicken to a plate and pour the sauce into a jug. Lower the oven temperature to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas Mark 2.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Return some of the sauce to the empty casserole dish and cover with one-third of the rice. Arrange the chicken pieces and a few chunks of potato on top, then cover with another third of the rice. Pour over some more sauce, dot with the remaining potatoes and cover with the remaining rice. Press down gently. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the rice, sprinkle with the reserved onions and the melted butter and cover tightly.

Place on the middle shelf of the oven for up to 40 minutes to heat through fully. If the ingredients have become cold during the process of putting the dish together, they might need longer to heat through. In this case, lower the temperature to 120ºC/250ºF/Gas Mark ½ and continue heating until completely hot.

To serve

Serve the biryani with Mixed Raita or a daal, allowing people to help themselves straight from the dish if you like.

Ginger and Garlic Paste

Makes 250g (8oz)

Put the garlic and ginger into a blender, add the oil and a dash of water and whiz to a purée. If too thick, add more water and a little more oil until you get a smooth consistency.

Transfer the paste to a container, cover with a layer of oil to preserve, seal tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. Use as needed, always using a dry spoon and keeping the rim of the container clean. If the paste begins to dry out, pour some oil over the top before resealing.


  • 115g (4oz) garlic, roughly chopped
  • 115g (4oz) fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • About 2 tablespoons of oil (any except olive oil), plus extra for preserving

Garam Masala

Preheat the oven to 130ºC/260ºF/ Gas Mark ¾. Place all the spices on a baking tray and place on the middle shelf of the oven for 10–12 minutes. After this time, turn off the oven, leaving the tray inside for another 20 minutes. Remove the spices from the oven and allow to cool.


  • 6-8 green cardamon pods, crushed and seeds extracted for use
  • 2 x 7.5cm (3in) cinnamon stick pieces
  • 5-6 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of black peppercorns

Mixed Raita

Serves 4

Place the yogurt in a deep bowl and whisk well. Add all the ingredients, except the lime juice and salt, and mix them in thoroughly. Taste and season with salt and a little lime juice.

Transfer to a bowl and garnish with the coriander, if you like.


  • 200ml (fl oz) thick Greek yoghurt
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 7.5–10cm (3–4in) cucumber piece, finely diced or grated
  • 1 tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 fresh green chilli finger-type, finely chopped
  • 8-10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon of red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, toasted and finely crushed
  • Lime juice to taste
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh corriander to garnish (optional)

Parsee-style Toor Daal

Serves 4

Drain the daal, which should be well swollen. Place in a saucepan, add enough fresh water to cover by 5mm (¼in) and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Skim off the froth that rises to the surface, then lower the heat and add some salt and the turmeric. Skim again if necessary, then add the butter. Simmer on the lowest possible heat, covered, for 10–15 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Blend to a purée with a blender, then set aside.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. When reasonably but not very hot, add the chillies and sauté until they darken. Stir in the cumin seeds and garlic and sauté until the garlic is pale golden. At that point, turn off the heat and keep stirring the mixture until the garlic browns nicely.

Add this mixture to the daal and stir well. Taste and add salt and more butter if you wish, then stir in the coriander before serving.


  • 250g (9oz) yellow lentils (Toor or Toovar Daal), washed, then soaked in water overnight, or for at least a few hours
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 15g (½oz) butter, or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower or extra virgin rapeseed oil
  • 1-2 fresh green chillies finger-type, split lengthways into 4 strips
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of chopped fresh corriander Salt