Whole Chicken Tikka Biryani

A biryani is a beautiful thing, a sensual aromatic ballad to the best of all the rices, basmati. This one breaks with tradition and uses a whole chicken. Fancy!

Done in 4 hours

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Ingredients

The sauce is a little more elaborate than a normal biryani, channeling the tangy deliciousness of chicken tikka masala. In fact, this whole dish is an ode to that point in the consumption of your takeaway when everything has combined to a hot delicious mess: fluffy rice, blackened tender pieces of tandoori chicken and delicious curry.

Method

Start off by cutting the spine out of the small chicken - feed it to a dog, wild creature or use it to make stock.

Whisk together the marinade ingredients for the chicken and rub it all over the bird. Leave to marinate for at least 3 hours in the fridge, or half that time at room temperature.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the whole spices. When they start to crackle, add the sliced onion. Fry for another 10 minutes, then add garlic + ginger paste and cook out over a medium low heat. Add the ground spices and cook for another three or so minutes, then add the tomato paste. Cook this until it starts to separate from the red oil, then add the double cream. Cook down until the sauce has thickened, roughly 5 minutes.

Grill the chicken under an oven grill or, even better, on a BBQ. Or even a tandoor oven if you have one lying around! Super casual! You are aiming for it to be just cooked through with lots of charred spots.

I hope you've got a lot of pans, because while this is going on you need to prepare the rice. Over a low heat, caramelise the sliced onions in the neutral oil. Wash the rice until the water is clear, then soak it in cold water for an hour. Heat a large saucepan full of water to a rolling boil and add the tbsp of salt.

Pour the soaked rice into the boiling water and set a timer for 3 minutes. When the 3 minutes is up, drain the rice and stir through the butter. Heat the milk and pour it over the saffron threads.

Time to arrange the biryani! Get a wide heavy bottomed pan with a lid and heat the remaining butter and water until foaming over a low heat. Spoon over half the rice and drizzle with the nice yellow saffron milk.

Get the chicken and place him on the rice then spoon the delicious curry sauce over the top. Now, add the other half of the rice until he is just buried. Top with caramelised onions and more drizzles of the saffron milk. At this point, place the lid on and whack up the heat to get some steam going, then reduce to your lowest possible setting cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.

During those 20 minutes, prepare the garnishes - fry the sliced almonds in butter and pick the leaves off the coriander. Whip off the lid theatrically and artfully scatter these on top, then serve it with pride.

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Hugh Woodward

Hugh Woodward

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