After a long week, I am often craving a takeaway, but also very aware of the impact it will have on my wallet and my waistline. Having usually had a cheeky bev after work on a Friday, I am also normally home later than normal, so when the urge comes, I often turn to my one pot wonder- chicken pilau (I must admit, I am quite confused about what makes a biryani vs a pilau.. I think a biryani has cooked rice added, whereas with a pilau, you cook the rice in with the other ingredients and liquid. I may be completely wrong, but it sounds logical enough!).
I love Indian food, the variety of spices can transform the simplest of ingredients, in this case chicken and brown rice. I always cook with brown rice over white, it is higher in fibre, manganese, and overall is just better for you.
Cost per portion– £1.33
Chicken thighs (half pack of thighs- 3 thighs)
Handful of frozen okra sliced
1x large onion or two small
3x garlic cloves
Inch piece of root ginger
1 green chili
1 cardamon pod
1 finger length piece of cinnamon bark
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1/2 teaspoon of coriander power
1 cups of rice to 2 cups of water
Whatever veg is floating around the fridge.. red pepper, cherry toms, even finely sliced lettuce if it needs using. I had a couple of rogue mushrooms.
Method- Start by portioning your chicken thighs, keeping the bone in. In this recipe I use 3 chicken thighs to serve four people, which is more than enough, and helps keen the costs per potion down. Breast would definitely be easier, but thigh is much better value and will stay moist compared with breast. In a large frying pan (remember, it has to fit everything in) add a tablespoon of rapeseed oil and on a medium heat brown your chicken, then set aside.
As with any Indian meal, it starts with onions and garlic. Finely dice your red onion, ginger, garlic and the green chili (if you don’t like your food too hot, leave the chili out). In the same frying pan you used to brown the chicken, fry your onions. You need to cook the onions until there are completely caramelised and soft, add a splash of water if the pan gets too dry, but do not scrimp on this stage, properly sweating your onions is essential in all Indian cooking, and this could take as long as 10mins! Once cooked, add your garlic and ginger and cook for another 4-5 mins.
Mix your powdered spices with a splash of water and then add to the onion/garlic/ginger mix, along with the cinnamon and cardamon. Cook this for a couple of minutes before adding your rice and frying for a further 2 minutes. Once the rice is combined in the spices, add back in your chicken and chopped veg and mix well. Finally add your liquid and either place a well fitting lid on the frying pan, or using tin foil, make a snug cover for the rice, ensuring there are no gaps for the steam to escape.
Cook for 2o mins on an medium heat before checking to see how much longer the rice needs (most likely another 10 mins). Add a splash of extra liquid if the rice is drying out and not yet cooked.
Serve with a yoghurt raita- I like my food hot so tend to combine 2/3 tbs of Greek yoghurt with a finely sliced green chili, grated cucumber (or finely chop it if grating is too much effort) and 2 tbs of water.