Don’t let the humble name fool you. This recipe makes one big ol’ plate of deliciousness.
For those of you familiar with New York this is a copycat of the chicken and rice that is found at the corner of 53rd and 6th. Friends of mine introduced me to it on one of my NYC trips and can I just say that it was love at first bite? The very reasonable price tag (6 bucks) and sizeable portion also went a long way to making this a must have for my college-student-poor self. You know that’s the kind of poor where you will eat at even the most mediocre cooks’ house for a free meal, where you will find yourself attending club meetings just for the free pizza. I digress. Point is that Chicken and Rice was a winner all around.
Here’s the thing though – I don’t remember how it tastes. It has been a very very long time, so I cannot say how authentic the recipe is, but it is easily one of the best things I have made. What makes this dish extraordinarily fun is that it has so many layers of flavour. There is the buttery yellow rice, the garlicky chicken with its hit of oregano, the cool garlic-dill sauce and the fiery harissa. I made mine from scratch, but that is because I could not find one in store. I think this would also work well with Sambal Oelek. Then again I think everything works well with Sambal Oelek.
Before I go onto the recipe here’s a quick shout out to my friend Maryam who first brought this recipe to my attention and recommended this combination of recipes for the different components. I did have to take some short cuts, for the non shortcut version I am including the links to each recipe. Don’t let the components intimidate you – the actual cooking time is very little. The Harissa and White Sauce can also be made a day in advance.
Note: I have changed the Harissa recipe a little to make it easier to make in a mini blender and to make it a little less spicy, mind you it is still very very very spicy!!! (June 8, 2015)
Do you guys ever think about food? As in ‘Id like to eat/make something with ____ that tastes ____’. Well I do, not very often mind you; I am usually a follow the recipe kinda girl. But I have been thinking about fish biryani lately. Now, we eat a lot of biryani in this house and historically my fish biryani recipe has been a variant of this one here. Since I usually buy whatever firm white fish is on sale (Basa this time around) I started to feel that my traditional masalas were too strong for a delicate fish. Plus it’s summer you know, time to lighten up – at least flavor wise. Far be it from me to suggest that white rice is diet food 🙂
On a serious note, it is easier on the oil than most biryanis or curries and that actually contributes to the lightness and freshness of the flavors. Also, dill and fish equals yumminess. Trust me – or even better, try it for yourself and see!
People, let’s talk about Ginger. See how I capitalized it just there? That’s because I have recently discovered a love for it thanks to this pilaf. You see garlic and I – we are tight – in my mind it goes with everything – well, almost everything. I went to this restaurant in San Francisco once called the Stinking Rose where each dish has garlic in it. Even the desserts. That I was not such a fan of. Anyway, back to Ginger with a capital G. I realize that it has a purpose and therefore I use it quite frequently in my food, but I do the same with cloves and would never eat one of those babies.
What I think makes the ginger flavor so beautiful in this dish is that you thinly slice your peeled ginger and then stir fry it in a little oil until it has delicate golden brown edges and a gentler perfume than I typically associate with this potent root. The ginger then becomes part of the base for the ‘broth’ that the rice gets cooked in and just gives the dish a very light, but unusual note that is so addictive that I actually wolfed down two sizable portions in a row and then realized I literally could not move from the couch. Really. The TV remote was far from me too (a whole 5 feet), thankfully my phone was nearby *phew*
My husband is a good man. Really he is. No bias or anything. I am told that I used to know how to make biryani at the ripe old age of 12, but somehow over time I completely forgot how. And so for let’s say 4 years or so after we got married I served him biryani after biryani that was a 6.5/10 at best. Then, fortunately for him, my aunt who is my go- to person for recipes passed on her recipe for biryani and my husband suffers no more.
Biryani is essentially a meat and spices pilaf. The best biryanis in Pakistan are often found in places which would not survive any health inspection, but have managed to produce the most delicious of biryanis for decades. From the famous Student Biryani to newer (and cleaner) places like Biryani Centre it is definitely a big favourite of Pakistani people. When I was working in Karachi I think I had Biryani at least once a week if not more – clearly eating healthy wasn’t quite a priority back then 🙂