This is known to many familiar with Indian cuisine as Murgh Biriyani, sometimes spelled Biryani. There are many subtle variations to this dish, the familiar elements found in all of them is the harmonizing of Indian condiments, fruits and nuts in a chicken-yogurt sauce. The aroma of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom distinctly fills the air. The blending of two whole and separate dishes into one, bursting with flavor. This is my version that I will be sharing in this recipe that nicely serves four. Serve Indian chicken pilaf with naan, mint raita and a white wine or Indian beer.

Things you will need:

  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 1/4 c plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp butter or ghee
  • 2 large white onions
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or ground red chili
  • 1/4 c chopped dates
  • 1/4 c blanched sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c chopped cashews
  • 1/4 c chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads
  • 2 Tbsp warm milk
  • 2 c basmati rice, 4 c water
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 2 qt casserole dish
  • large skillet
  • medium skillet
  • mixing bowl
  • utensils
  • plastic wrap
  • aluminum foil 

Prepare chicken meat. Cut uncooked boneless chicken breasts into 1/2" pieces. In medium bowl mix together: yogurt, poppy seeds, coriander, turmeric and salt. Add chicken to bowl and blend, cover with plastic wrap, place in refrigerator and marinade for 2 to 4 hours. Overnight would be ideal.

Saute in a large skillet over medium low heat. Melt butter, add finely chopped onions, cook for 15 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cayenne. Cook for 2 minutes or until highly fragrant.

Place half of sauté mixture in a separate bowl. Add chicken marinade to skillet mixture, set heat to low. Allow to cook for 20 minutes or until somewhat dry, stirring as needed to keep bottom from browning.

Melt butter or ghee in a skillet over low heat, add dates, almonds, cashews and pistachios. Cook for 2 minutes. Add to chicken mixture and set aside.

Prepare rice. Rinse rice, then place in simmering water for 30 minutes, 2 cups of rice and 4 cups of water. Combine minced saffron threads with warm water and set aside for 10 minutes. Mix milk and saffron with drained fluffy rice.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large casserole dish place warmed sauté mixture and rice. Add chicken mixture, 1 1/2 c. water and salt to taste.

Mix and blend entire ingredients in a casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before serving.