Indian Roast Chicken and Smoked Kofta Biryani

My very first post on this blog was a beef stew. A very muddled and brown looking concoction that graces our table at least once a week. A curry that I can cook with my eyes closed and my brain off, a recipe that doesn’t really follow exact measurements. One that is based on taste as opposed to numbers.

Since then, I have published numerous recipes on this site. Many new, some old. Numerous experimental ones, some that were mistakes that turned out glorious. But definitely not enough heirloom recipes. You know those ones that you eat day in day out and don’t even consider a recipe. Those meals that you learnt from your mom who learnt it from hers who learnt it from hers. The one that you teach your child just before they head out to university. The recipe that no one at home requests purely because it’s such a staple. 

Today I’m sharing two such recipes. My mom makes this biryani recipe often. It’s a Sunday tradition, an Eid tradition, a welcome back home tradition, a celebration tradition. A special occasion tradition that we like to have once a week even when there is nothing in particular to celebrate. Whilst the recipe is the same whether she cooks it with lamb or chicken, this smoke kofta version is my favourite. Smoked anything is a favourite of mine really.  

Then there is the roast chicken. Everyone’s family has a roast chicken recipe. Everyone’s mom makes the best roast chicken. Well, mine never did. We never really had a roast chicken for dinner. Ever. But that doesn’t mean I can’t start that tradition with my own little family. This recipe is definitely a keeper and one I hope will evolve into an heirloom recipe. It is requested often and I have a feeling it will be one of the first recipes I lovingly hand down to my own children when they head off to greener pastures. 

Other images are recipes for Pea, Potato and Egg Bake and Smoked Fish Skewers with Coconut Rice. 

Indian Roast Chicken

125 ml yoghurt, whisked
1 inch ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp tomato paste
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
60 ml sunflower oil
1.3 kg whole chicken
2 handfuls curry leaves
2 cucumbers
1 packet wild rucola
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade. Mix the first 12 ingredients in a bowl and coat the chicken thoroughly. Stuff the cavity with curry leaves and tie the legs with bakers twine. Place on a baking tray and roast for 30 mins. Add 250 ml water to they tray, mixing all the juices in the tray and baste the chicken. Roast for a further 90 minutes (or until thigh juices run clear when tested with a skewer), basting every half hour. You can add more water if there is no basting sauce left in the meanwhile. Remove the chicken and play on a clean tray, covering with foil, and leave to rest. 

Prepare the salad by shaving the cucumber with a peeler lengthways using a vegetable peeler. Place in a bowl of cold water and ice for 10 minutes to allow it to crisp up. Drain and toss it with the rucola and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with the chicken. 

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 1/2 – 2 hours
Serves: 4

Smoked Kofta Biryani

900 g onions, thinly sliced with mandolin
3 large potatoes (370 g), peeled and quartered
300 g beef mince
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 inch ginger, grated
1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 tbsp water
350 g basmati rice
3 cardamoms
1/2 tsp saffron threads
2 tbsp milk
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 cloves
2 cardamoms
1 small cinnamon stick
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
250 ml tomato paste
60 ml yoghurt, whipped
1 tbsp + 1 tsp brown sugar
2 tbsp chopped mint
4 tbsp chopped coriander

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Add the onion in batches and fry till golden brown, stirring with a slotted spoon every so often. As soon as the onion starts to turn golden, stir more often and keep an eye out as it can change color very fast. Drain on a paper towel and use two forks to separate the fried onion completely (this will help to keep it crispy). Repeat till all the onion is fried and set aside.

Fry the potatoes in the same oil on medium heat until golden and cooked through. Drain on a paper towel.
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. In a bowl, mix together the mince, garlic, ginger, red chili powder, water and season well with salt. Make 1 inch meatballs and drop into the boiling water. Allow to boil for 5 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Rinse the basmati in several changes of water and soak in a pan. Bring another saucepan of salted water to the boil and add 1 cardamom to it. Cook the rice until just done and drain. Crush the saffron threads in a pestle and mortar and add it to the milk in a small bowl. Heat in the microwave for 20 seconds and add to the drained rice (make sure the rice is completely dry, about 20 minutes). fluff roughly with a fork.
In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat oil on medium heat and add all the dry spices. When the cardamoms fluff up, add the garlic, ginger and tomato paste. Add 3/4 of the fried onions (reserve the rest to garnish later), crushing them as you add to the pan and 200ml water. Fry on low to medium heat with the lid half covered, until the oil separates. When the oil has separated, add the yogurt and sugar and stir till incorporated. Add 300 ml of water and allow to simmer on low heat with the lid covered for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes and meatballs in the last 10 minutes, making sure not to stir too much so that the meatballs don’t break.
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade. Layer the biryani in a heavy bottom saucepan suitable to use in the oven. start with a thin layer of gravy and meatballs followed by the rice, fried onions, some mint and coriander. Repeat again making sure the top layer is rice topped with onion only. Cover with a lid or foil and heat in the oven for 20- 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Serves: 4-5 

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