Chicken Breyani

Chicken Breyani was suggested to me by my South African friend Klaudia.  She had mentioned this dish on my first post about Africa Day 2010.  I had hoped to veer away from South African cuisine and explore other regions, but the availability of ingredients in Bulgaria tends to dictate the culinary direction my recipes shall follow.
I found a few recipes that looked promising, but narrowed my search to one I found on Recipezaar, which was originally intended to be Lamb Breyani, but I went the chicken route. First off, I had to seriously adapted this recipe, not so much the ingredients, but the instructions.  They were really difficult to follow and very confusing.  I also adjusted the original quantities significantly.
I actually love this dish and next time my husband is away, I am making this again!  There was something very comfortable and soothing about it. Maybe it was the carb and fat overload or the complex spice combination without the heat. I felt that this was a dish that I would need love to eat often, but hesitate because it was quite time consuming… then I though that if there was a local South African restaurant around me, I would order this dish on a lazy Sunday afternoon and curl up on the couch and watch a movie with my family.  
Chicken Breyani adapted from Recipezaar
Serves 4 – 6
1 whole chicken (cut into 6 pieces and skins removed, I omitted the wings to use in chicken stock)
4 cups cooked basmati rice (I used brown)*
1 cup cooked lentils, brown**
1 lg onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 md potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup water
a pinch of saffron
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinade:
1 cup canned chopped tomates (I would have used freshly canned, but we just ran out)
1 cinnamon stick
2 allspice berries
3 whole cloves
1/2 tbsp ground cumin (I ground toasted whole seeds)
1 tsp ground coriander (toasted, whole seeds ground are preferable)
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 lg clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt

Cut and remove the skin from your chicken.  Season with salt and set aside. Combine all of the marinade ingredients together in a large bowl, whisking to incorporate.  Add the chicken to the marinade and allow to sit for an hour.  While the chicken is marinating, use this time to prepare the onions, rice, potatoes and lentils.

Whisk together to combine

In a large dutch oven, or any pot with a tight fitting lid add the oil and heat over medium. Then add the onion and allow it to slowly brown and become golden about 10 minutes.  Remove the onions from the oil with a slotted spoon and reserve.
To the oil, layer half of the rice, then then on top of the rice layer the chicken and marinade mixture. Then layer the lentils, half of the potatoes and the remaining rice.  Next add the onions and remaining potatoes and sprinkle with saffron.
Rice
Chicken and marinade
Lentils
Potatoes
Rice, onions and remaining potatoes
Add the butter and the water, then cover and cook for 10 minutes over high heat.  Be careful because of the oil, it is prone to burning, as I charred the bottom of the pot. Then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook for about another hour till the meat is tender, mine fell off the bone.
Butter, water and saffron
* Rinse the 2 cups of rice till the water is clear.  Add rice to a pot with 3 1/2 cups of water, 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg, a cardamon pod and a healthy pinch of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and reserve.
** Rinse 1/2 cup lentils and pick over any stones or questionable items.  Add lentils to pot with a healthy pinch of salt and 1 cup of water.  Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for about 30 minutes till the lentils are soft.  Reserve till ready to use.
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Author: caseyangelova

Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria www.caseyangelova.com

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