The recipe for this dish was generously given to me by a (lady) chef who works for an NGO here in Beirut; biryanis (various versions of the original Indian biryanis) are popular in Iraq and in the Gulf countries where they are considered an important part of the local cuisine. The richness in spices in these dishes is a far cry from traditional Lebanese rice dishes which tend to be subdued where spices are concerned.
Recipe from Mrs. F. Hassan
- 1 whole chicken, cut-up or 1 dozen chicken pieces (half for the stock, half to cook the chicken)
- 2 large yellow onions (chop one and keep the other whole)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled, chopped and mashed in a mortar with a teaspoon of salt
- 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
- 4 tomatoes, chopped small
- 1 potato, peeled, cut into dice
- 3 cups Basmati or long-grain rice
- 1 cup green peas
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1cup tomato sauce
- 3 carrots, peeled and shredded
- ½ cup golden raisins
- Spices: 1 stick cinnamon, 4 cardamom pods, 1/8 tsp. saffron, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tbsp. Biryani spice mix, salt to taste
- Vegetable oil as needed
Make the chicken stock:
Place the neck and wings in a pot with the onion studded with 2 cloves; add a stick of cinnamon and a bay leaf; add 6 cups of water, cover and bring to a simmer; let the stock simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock into a large bowl.
Place the saffron and raisins in a small bowl, add ½ cup of hot water and set aside.
Heat ¼ cup of oil in a large pot and fry the onion a few minutes; add the mashed garlic, ginger and chicken pieces, browning them slightly for 10 minutes, flipping them from time to time; add the tomatoes and coconut milk and simmer the mixture covered for 10 minutes.
Add the spices, saffron and raisins with their water, rice and tomato sauce to the pot, along with the drained chicken stock; cover and let the rice cook for 20 minutes. Fry the potatoes and drain; add the shredded carrots, peas and potatoes five minutes before the rice is fully cooked. Serve the rice warm.