I made this dish on Tuesday, October 6. Biryani is the national dish of Bangladesh. It was difficult to find a recipe because there are many different versions of biryani and it seems that recipes for the Bangladeshi version are the least available on the internet. I was only able to find one recipe; some of the directions are vague, and I was unable to find some of the spices included, such as onion seed and black cumin seed. I read that Bangladeshi biryani is supposed to be very spicy; mine was not. This is perhaps because I didn't cut up the serrano peppers. I also felt that it was bland; this may be because I was using some really old spices or maybe because I didn't take my allergy medicine and my sense of taste was therefore compromised. At any rate, Andy, Tony, Lindsay and Mully all enjoyed the meal, and it is perhaps Mully's eating of one of the serrano peppers from the dish that caused the Twins' Cabrera to get the home run last night that tied up the playoff game with the Tigers during the 7th inning. The menfolk tend to get a little superstitious while watching sports...
I don't really feel like I can comment much on the flavor, as I thought the meal was bland. I do like the masala flavors that came through (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander, sugar), but I wish they had been stronger. The dish reminded me of Afghanistan's national dish, qaboli palau, but I found the chicken in the Bangladeshi dish a more boring flavor than the lamb was in the Afghani dish. If I were to make this again, I would not use giant pieces of whole chicken, but instead use chicken breast cut up into smaller chunks, much like the lamb was in the palau dish. I had difficulty getting the larger breast pieces to cook all of the way through, which was annoying. Also, smaller pieces would make the dish more uniform. Plus, it would be easier to stir. The real flavor star in the Bangladeshi dish was the caramelized onions we put on top of the rice (I took the pictures before I topped the rice with the caramelized onions...). If you choose to make this dish, be sure that you caramelize the onions, don't just brown them.
Here is the recipe, slightly modified from the original: Ingredients: - 3.2 lbs chicken, cut into 8 pieces (the original called for only 2 lbs., but I couldn't find any that weight) - 1 c. plain yogurt - 4 bay leaves - salt to taste - 1 c. milk - 1/2 tsp. saffron - 3 c. basmati - 5 c. water - 4 pinches onion powder - 5 serrano peppers - 12 whole peppercorns - 3/4 c. butter - 1/2 tsp. sugar - 5 whole cardamom - 1" whole cinnamon - 8 whole cloves - 5 medium chopped onions - 2 tsp. fresh grated ginger - 2 tsp. garlic paste - 3 tsp. red chili powder - 3 tsp. ground coriander - 1/2 tsp. cumin - 1/2 c. cashews - 1/2 c. raisins
1) Marinate chicken pieces with yogurt, two bay leaves and salt. 2) Heat milk and soak saffron. 3) Bring rice, water, onion powder, serrano peppers, 2 bay leaves and whole peppercorns to a boil in a covered saucepan. Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes. 4) Melt butter in a pan. Add sugar, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. 5) Add three chopped onions, ginger and garlic and fry until light brown (this takes longer than you might expect). 6) Mix red chili and coriander powder in a little water and add cumin. Add to butter mixture. Cook for 3-4 minutes over medium heat. 7) Put remaining 2 onions in a frying pan with a bit of oil. Caramelize over medium heat. 8) Add marinated chicken pieces and cook until oil starts separating out (10-15 minutes). Add sugar and salt as required. 9) Add cooked rice mixture. Add saffron soaked milk. Add cashews and raisins. Mix properly. 10) Cook over very low heat for 10-15 minutes. 11) Serve hot, with caramelized onions as a garnish.