Here is a simple-to-prepare rice pilaf that celebrates the vivid flavors of the Indian kitchen. For a zesty, sweet topping to accompany the biryani, blend 1 heaping tablespoon sweet mango chutney into 1 cup plain yogurt. For a spicy-hot topping, blend 1 heaping tablespoon Patak’s Eggplant (Brinjal) Relish into 1 cup plain yogurt.
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1½ cups chopped onions
- 2 teaspoons anise seeds
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup water
- 2 large bay leaves
- 1½ teaspoons salt (½ teaspoon if using salty broth)
- 4 teaspoons mild curry powder, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of cayenne (optional)
- 1½ pounds boneless, skinned chicken, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cups basmati or long-grain white rice
- 1 cup frozen peas
- ½ cup toasted slivered almonds or chopped roasted cashews
Heat the butter in a 4-quart or larger cooker. Add the onions, anise seeds, and cumin seeds and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Blend in the tomato paste and cook for 20 seconds longer. Stir in the broth, water, bay leaves, salt, curry, cinnamon, and cayenne (if using). Taste the broth and, if there isn’t a strong curry flavor, add more curry powder to taste. Stir in the chicken and rice.
Lock the lid in place. Over high heat bring to high pressure. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat. Allow the pressure to come down naturally for 7 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow steam to escape.
Quickly stir in the peas and almonds and additional salt, if needed. Replace the cover, and steam the mixture in the residual heat until the peas are defrosted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir well to fluff up. Remove the bay leaves. Serve with bowls of yogurt toppings (see headnote) on the side.
Add 1/3 cup raisins along with rice.
Transformations (Follow basic recipe except as noted)
Lamb Biryani: Omit chicken broth and increase water to 3 cups. Instead of chicken, use 1½ pounds boned lamb shoulder, cut into ¾-inch chunks and trimmed. (If boned shoulder is not available, buy 2½ pounds lamb shoulder chops; cut into cubes and trim yourself. Include bones for added flavor, then remove before serving.) Before adding rice, cook lamb for 8 minutes high pressure. Quick-release pressure and skim off any surface fat. Stir in rice and cook for 3 more minutes high pressure plus 7-minute natural pressure release.
Vegetable Biryani (Vegetarian): Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Instead of chicken, use 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (or a 15-ounce can, drained) and 1 pound peeled butternut squash cut into ¾-inch chunks. After cooking, stir in ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro. Season with 1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice.
Nutritional information is based on 6 servings.