rice … burnt

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Sometimes I’m old-fashioned.

I’ve got a notebook – a notebook w/ pages made of paper, a cardboard cover … where I gather recipes, most of them are ripped out pages from any magazines fixed w/ sticky tape. Honestly, most of them rest there until my notebook is exhausted & I decide to straighten up (i. e. next step is trash).

Well – in our digital world my last notebook lasts since some years while I save any interesting recipes from blogs etc. in my digital storage system (i. e. the one w/ the little green elephant). Of course also my digital storage has to be cleaned & streamlined from time to time, but that’s not relevant at the moment.

In my classic notebook there is a recipe for an Indian rice dish w/ chicken & vegetables w/ a photo so mouth-watering that I each time when encountering this page I make a mental note to tackle this recipe soon. You may guess … yes – I did finally.

It took me a rather long time because the recipe is designed for about 8 portions which is far too much for my better half & me. Otherwise I remember from an Indian cookbook I owned once years ago that obviously in India all dishes are always designed for 8 or 10 or even 12 people. (That was the background why I got rid of this cookbook.)

Downsizing a recipe is sometimes difficult, however, I tried … I decided to do it for 4 people. (2 people were … crucial!) Compared to the original recipe I worked w/ more vegetables & a little more chicken, but less rice. The combination was fine.

I also did w/o fresh green coriander leaves & red pomegranate seeds. Both were – in my understanding – only some sort of decoration on top of the rice dish. Of course, the strong green & the bold red would have been excellent when taking photos …

I also skipped deep-fried onion & any nuts for the topping.

I started w/ preparing the 3 main parts of the dish – making it as straightforward as possible:

  • rice
  • chicken
  • vegetables.

It was called Layered Chicken Biriyani (in the original recipe).

For the record:
When roaming the internet I found more often Biryani instead of Biriyani although both expressions seem to be used for the same dish.

The original Rice Biryani is a flavored rice w/ lots of typical Indian spices. On top are deep-fried onion & nuts. Based on this you may add vegetables as well as chicken or any other meat. Important is the layering. After having prepared the ingredients all is layered in a pot resp. pan, starting w/ a layer of rice & finishing w/ a layer of rice. Then the pot/pan is closed & the mess may simmer for some time …

Anything else?

We were on holiday – a short 1-week holiday. I made the rice dish before we vanished into Greece when the weather was … rather bad than like May w/ sun etc. It was a climate when you like a tasty rice dish.

In Greece resp. Rhodes there was brilliant sunshine, blue sky – all you dream about. We enjoyed Greek delicacies like crumbly feta, silky tzatziki, creamy moussaka, leg of lamb, tomatoes, cucumber … always al fresco.

When returning home it seemed that summer had arrived – but only for 2 days. Then it started raining … In short: it’s the climate for a tasty rice dish once again.

So finally let’s get started!

We start w/ the rice.

The rice will be cooked for about 10 min in salted water until a little soft, but only a little. Adjust the cooking time to the type of rice you’re working with. Then the rice is drained & set aside.

I had 2 nice chicken breasts. For the dish it should be boneless chicken.

Just cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces & fry them in some butter & oil until done. Add salt & pepper to taste. Afterwards set aside.

Now let’s assemble the vegetables:

  • carrots
  • peas
  • onion
  • cauliflower
  • garlic
  • ginger.

… & there are some spices & some yoghurt.

We chop the onion & mince the garlic & the ginger. All is fried in some butter & oil – softly. While cooking add the spices. It’s:

  1. cinnamon
  2. coriander
  3. caraway
  4. ginger
  5. cloves
  6. nutmeg
  7. saffron
  8. cardamom
  9. cumin
  10. bay leaf.

All ground. Except the bay leave.

#1 to #6 came w/ a spice mix. (It wasn’t Garam Masala, but be sure: you may also substitute this spice mix for Garam Masala.)

… okay: at this point I also changed the original recipe. I used ground spices. In the original there are green cardamom pods, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves … you get it. First of all if you use these you have to take care to discard them appropriately: it isn’t much fun to bite on a cardamom pod accidentally! Furthermore it’s sometimes a challenge to lay hands on them.

… & … I didn’t add anything hot & spicy (ground chili powder etc.). You may if you like.

So we finally add the ground spice mix. Maybe add also some water if it gets too sticky.

We prepare the carrots & the cauliflower – trimming, peeling, chopping. All goes into the pan to be mixed w/ the onion mess. Let it fry for about 10 min. Add some water if it’s too sticky … the water must have vanished into thin air when ready. Put the mess in a bowl & set aside.

So now we have our main players in the rice dish. Add the yoghurt to the vegetables & mix.

Then add the chicken to the vegetables & mix.

Grab your pan & line it w/ baking parchment. (This idea came from the original recipe!)

Then it’s:

  • Add butter & oil.
  • Add half of the rice: that’s the bottom layer.
  • Add all of the chicken vegetable mess: that’s the middle layer.
  • Add the rest of the rice: that’s the top layer.
  • Make some holes into the layered mess.

Close the pan w/ a tight-fitting lid & start cooking. Let it cook at low temperature for about 35-40 min. Don’t lift the lid. Don’t disturb the mess.

Now it’s ready. It doesn’t look like being ready, but the flavors …

The bottom layer is crispy & somewhat burnt. Just mix a little to break up the crispy layer of rice. (The baking parchment helped – no cleaning overload concerning the pan!)

… & serve!

My better half & I added some yoghurt to our plates – it was absolutely delicious. (Just remember that there is not much butter & oil used while preparation.)

… there were only the 2 of us (due to Corona times): so we had a dinner & some days later a lunch from this delicious flavorful rice. I just stored it in the fridge & reheated in the microwave. It worked fine.


rice … burnt
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr 20 mins
Servings: 4
  • 200 g rice
  • 3 tbsp butter (divided)
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil (divided)
  • 300 g chicken (boneless)
  • 1 onion (about 100 g)
  • 3 carrots (about 200 g)
  • 200 g cauliflower (net – trimmed)
  • 100 g frozen peas
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp ginger (minced)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (see notes for ingredients)
  • 1 packet saffron
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 bay leave
  • 100 g Greek yoghurt
  • some tbsp water
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
for the topping:
  • Greek yoghurt (optional)
  • pan w/ close fitting lid
how to:
  • Cook the rice for about 10 min; drain it & set aside.
  • Mranwhile: cut the chicken into small (bite-size) pieces & fry them in 1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp peanut oil for about 10 min. Set aside.
  • Trim & peel the onion; chop it.
  • Peel ginger & cloves of garlic & mince them.
  • Fry the onion, the ginger & the garlic in 1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp peanut oil for about 5 min.
  • Trim & peel the carrots; chop them.
  • Trim & chop the cauliflower.
  • Add all the spices to the onion mess & mix well. Add some water if it's too sticky.
  • Add the carrots, the cauliflower & the peas to the onion mess & mix well.
  • Fry for about 15 min. Add some water if it's too sticky. At the end all the water has to be vanished …
  • Fill the vegetables in a bowl & add the yoghurt. Mix well. Discard the bay leaf.
  • Combine the chicken & the vegetables & mix well.
  • Cover the bottom of the pan w/ a fitting sheet of baking parchment. Add 1 tbsp peanut oil & 1 tbsp butter.
  • Add half of the cooked rice.
  • Add the chicken vegetable mess.
  • Add rest of the rice & make some steam holes.
  • Cover the pan w/ a close fiiting lid & let it cook slowly for about 40 min. Don't lift the lid, don't disturb the mess.
  • When ready: mix the layers roughly – don't break up the crispy (aka burnt) rice on the bottom too much! (Discard the baking parchment!)
  • Serve w/ a dollop of Greek yoghurt.
Prep Time: It’s the time for preparing the chicken & the vegetables as well as preparing the pan.
Cook Time: It’s the time for the rice, the chicken & the vegetables as well as the mixed rice in the closed pan.
Onion & carrots: the amounts are before trimming, peeling etc.
Cauliflower: it’s the net amount after trimming.
Garlic: I had very small cloves of garlic; adjust to your preference.
Mixed spice: It’s cinnamon, coriander, caraway, ginger, cloves, nutmeg – all ground. You may substitute mixed spice for garam masala.
You may store leftovers in your fridge for some days & reheat in your microwave.
Sorry: no experience w/ freezing.

(information on equipment)

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