Spoiler Alert: this is a really, really good curry; but the biryani is from a frozen packet (also really, really good) from Trader Joe’s that you just empty into a ‘wave-safe bowl and…
well, ‘wave as instructed on the packet.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that, we just know some folk who make their biryani from scratch, the way they learned from their mum, and it is also really, really good, but, let us be honest, I am no Persian.
First, the biryani. I had never thought to try this tasty little mix until our friend, Jenny, served us some topped with shrimp on our last trip to Massachusetts. One bite, and Rich and I resolved to keep some on hand once we got home.
Reading the packet at the store, I found that they recommended serving with a nice curry, and, since a trip to TJ’s always includes at least one organic, free-range whole chicken, a plan formed.
Now, for that chicken. I normally spatchcock a whole bird, then marinate it, sometimes in lemon, onion, and olive oil, sometimes in spiced buttermilk. Sometimes I do one (half) of each before roasting or grilling. This time, we enjoyed a buttermilk marinated roast chicken dinner one night, then enjoyed the leftovers (about half a whole chicken, boned) the next in the curry.
All that said, I took biryani-from-a-packet, my leftover roast half-chicken, and adapted a spicy coconut curry sauce recipe from Gourmet magazine vie epicurious.com; and it was wicked good.
•1-1/4 cup diced sweet onion
•8 oz sliced ‘shrooms
•4 large garlic cloves, minced
•1 tsp dried lemongrass
•1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
•1/4 tsp sea salt
•1/4 cup Thai red curry paste
•2 tbsp vegetable oil
•2 cups (14 oz can) coconut milk
•1/4 cup water
•1 to 2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
•1 to 3 tsp sugar
•1 tsp Asian fish sauce (optional)
•1/4 to 1/2 tsp Cayenne (optional)
•1/2 roasted chicken, boned and chopped
•Sliced fresh or canned pineapple
•Fresh cilantro or parsley
Crush the lemongrass with the Sichuan peppercorns in a mortar and pestle (feel free to add the garlic to this as well and grind it all into a paste), and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan or skillet (my tagine worked a treat for this), then add the onion, shrooms, garlic, lemongrass and peppercorn mixture, and the salt, and sauté for five minutes.
Stir in the curry paste, cook for five minutes, then stir in the 1/4 cup of water and sauté for another ten minutes – it’ll be thick and pasty still, not to worry.
Stir in the coconut milk and simmer for 30 minutes.
Give it a taste…
Stir in the sugar, lemon or lime juice, fish sauce (I use 3 Crabs), and Cayenne to taste, then heat for five or ten minutes.
Still spicy, but very nice.
Stir in the chicken pieces and pineapple slices, cover and heat over a low flame until heated through – mebbe another five minutes.
Empty the biryani into that ‘wave-safe bowl and cook as directed onto the packet.
Serve the curry over the biryani in a bowl and sprinkle with freshly chopped cilantro or parsley (I’m not a huge fan of cilantro, so I use parsley).
You could mebbe also offer some lemon or lime wedges to squeeze over all, and I wouldn’t say no to a fresh batch of naan.
As I said in the spoiler alert: really, really good; and not too, too hard to toss together, especially if you’ve broken your chicken apart the day before or so.