Not very authentic but a quick and easy family meal – My Chicken Biryani

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I love India. I plan to spend time living in India at some point, I love it that much. I have been 3 times and want to go more, I wish it was easier to get there from New Zealand. I also love Indian food. I say that in a generic way but there is only one thing I have come across that I didn’t like, soft idli.

I think cooking anything that might come under the heading ‘Indian’ frightens a few people. You can cook the grand food with all sorts of ingredients and spend a day doing it, you can also change recipes. You aren’t going to insult any one if you use a generic curry powder, find what you and your family like spice ways and work with what you get. I have been cooking my Indian homestyle food for as long as I can remember and lost my fear long ago.

This recipe is not classy and is not at all authentic. It is a good family feed and an easy midweek dinner. It can also be good for using things up like that scraggy chicken breast in the freezer, the ends of frozen veg and the last bit of rice.  It is also a good place to start adding an Indian feel to family meals.

My Chicken Biryani-

  • Servings: 4-6 people
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1 tbsp flavourless oil (canola)

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cardamom

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander 

1 large chicken breast ( or 2 small)  in small cubes

1 medium onion, diced

2 garlic cloves chopped

2c chicken stock

1 1/2 c basmati rice

1 1/2 c frozen veg

On a medium heat, heat oil in a wide fry pan with a lid

When hot add chicken and cook until sealed on each side

Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is transparent

Then add rice and give a good stir to coat

Tip stock in and give another stir

Cover, lower heat and let cook for 10 mins (check it has not gone dry a few times, add hot water if it has)

Add frozen veg, stir yet again

Cook with lid off for another 10-15 minutes (add more hot water if dries out)

Serve with cucumber and mint yoghurt, naan or what ever floats your boat.

*makes excellent left overs

A Perisian Inspired Feast.

I did a Wellington Foodies thing with the lovely Susan from My Persian Feast. After this I decided I had to have a dinner party with a Persian influence. I also went for a Ottolenghi angel knowing the ideas would blend well. As usual, I spent many hours planning, culled the menu and got sensible. I even took a day off to cook on the Friday. I had a happy day off dancing, cooking and eating mixture. I did the usual subject- bread and dips. I also made Ka’ach Bilmalch. They are somewhere between a cookie, bagel and bread roll. They are rather moorish, as was the Tahini Dip that goes along side this recipe. You can find the recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Taminmi’s book Jerusalem. If you are interested enough to read my post, you need it any way. Photo 16-08-14 4 20 08 pm The main event was Chicken with Summer Fruit. I did this in the slow cooker, it was on all day making the house smell lovely. It was wonderfully different and went down very well. I used a mix of chicken cuts and I browned the meat under the grill to do it in one bulk lot.  The slow cooker was on all day and I turned it down to low at about 3pm. We ate around 7pm. Photo 16-08-14 4 20 31 pm This is the recipe Susan from My Persian Feast emailed me. Chicken with Summer Fruit 

This is a sweet and sour dish with hint of spice. I usually make this dish with lamb in slow cooker and change the fruit depending on what I have at home. Dried fruit such as cranberries, barberries, plum (hard to find) and raisins are good to use for this recipe.

Chicken with Summer Fruit-

  • Servings: 6-8
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6 Chicken thighs, skin removed (any part of chicken is fine)

1 Large onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

12 Apricots

1 cup dried cherry, wash and soak in water for few hours (Countdown/ Moore Wilson’s)

3 table spoon Pomegranate molasses

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

½ teaspoon chilli flakes, fresh or powder is fine

salt and pepper

Vegetable Oil

Rub the chicken pieces with little turmeric and black pepper.

Heat a frying pan, add oil and brown the chicken.

Transfer to a casserole dish and pour 2 cups of boiling water over the chicken.

Simmer for about 30-40 minutes (for slow cooker-  brown chicken add to slow cooker, carry on with recipe and add the ingredients as follows below, add ingredients to slow cooker)

In the same frying pan sauté the onion until softened.

Add little oil if needed. Add garlic, turmeric, chilli and cinnamon, stir well.

Add fruits and Pomegranate molasses cook for few minutes

Add the mixture to chicken and cook for another 20 minutes/ or 6-8 hours in slow cooker

Add more boiling water if needed

Taste the sauce after 10 minutes if its too sweet add more pomegranate molasses and if its too sour add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar or honey.

Serve with Persian style saffron flavoured fluffy rice, garlic yoghurt and baby spinach. Nooshe Jaan!

I also used her recipe for Smokey Aubergine Dip  ( Mirza Ghasemi)

2 medium aubergines

5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 cup chopped canned tomatoes or 5 tomatoes, skin removed and chopped (not the Italian tomatoes, cheap can tomatoes are the best. The acid from normal tomato will bring freshness to dish)

Generous amount of olive oil Chilli powder optional ( I added a fresh red chilli too)

1 teaspoon turmeric salt and pepper

  • The best way is to cook aubergines whole over an open flame (either on a barbecue or over a domestic gas stove) on low heat until the skin blackened and the flesh has softened right through to the centre.
  • Alternatively, to bake them, Place the aubergines in a roasting tin and roast them whole in the oven 40-45 minutes.
  • Remove the skin and mash the with fork
  • In a frying pan sauté chopped garlic until soft. Add turmeric and stir
  • Add the mashed eggplant and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring thoroughly.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper to the mix, stir well and cook for further10 minutes over medium heat.
  • Serve warm with crusty bread and garnish with chopped parsley and olive oil.

And my new favourite salad, I doubled this. Marinated Feta Cheese (Noon-o-Paneer)

75 g feta cheese, cubed
1/4 cup walnut, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon spring onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (got these in a local Indian Store)
Add walnuts to a glass jar or small container, add enough water to cover the walnuts. Soak walnuts for 6 hours or overnight in the fridge. Rinse and discard water.
In a small bowl combine olive oil, herbs, spring onion, lemon juice, chopped walnuts and nigella seeds.
Stir until well mixed.
Add cheese cubes and toss very gently to coat.
Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.
And… drum roll…..
Photo 16-08-14 8 08 04 pm
And lastly, I made- Walnut and Almond Crescents ( Ghottaab) you can see them on the left of my mega platter. They were lovely and would go rather well with coffee.
In the middle is the very interesting Baklava Cake , it does not have pastry and is rather like an India sweet. I loved it, husband was not sure.
On the far side is a Dish magazine Cherry Tart, I soaked the cherries in rosewater to keep with the theme. I wanted to do something familiar and it was good too. All up, this was a lovely meal and we had a great evening,

Chicken pie- thanks Nigella

Look at that, mmmm.

Look at that, mmmm.

This pie is a good pie. I am only going to give you the recipe for the filling as it is up to you what you do with it. We have it with just a puff pastry top and it is good, so good. You can also vary the vegetables you add, for some reason chicken goes so well with sweetcorn and that is what we often have.

I have seen several recipes for similar pie filling on the internet, some of them are so complicated and have odd ingredients. This is no fancy pie but a robust, tasty and proper pie. If you know how to make a white sauce you are most of the way there anyway. It is that simple.

The recipe I use as a guide is in Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat. It is in the back under baby food and on page 488. I am doing a blog post so I always have the recipe available.

Chicken Pie filling

Heat oven to 180°C

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 chicken stock cube 

1 tblsp flour

300 ml milk

125grm veg ( I use frozen sweetcorn or frozen mixed veg)

200 grm cooked chicken (1 large breast is enough for us, poaching is a quick way to cook it and it shreds easily)

Melt butter and add stock cube/ granules mix together to make a kind of paste

Stir in flour and cook until a light brown in colour

Off heat stir continuously and slowly add the milk

When smooth put back on the heat and cook for around 10 minutes, stir occasionally

Add chicken and veg, mix all together.

If you are doing it my way –

Place filling in a pan dish and top with defrosted puff pastry, prick all over and brush with milk

Bake for around 35-40 mins or until pastry is brown and you can see the filling bubbling.


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Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals,Gorgeous Greek Chicken, herby Vegetable Couscous and Tzatziki, p38

ImageHe managed it in 18 minutes, we are getting closer but there is a but, but he used ready-made tzatziki as we had it in the fridge.
The adjustments we made were
–    Not using dill, it isn’t family friendly
–    Next time, flatten the chicken more. NZ breasts are larger than UK chickens.
–    Pulsing the vegetables for the couscous is a really good idea
–    You can always add herbs to your own plate if the are served separately

It was very tasty, there was rather a lot of couscous. I bumped it out with the rest of the feta and had it for lunch at work. Bonus really.

I am not going to publish the recipe as most libraries will have the book or you can get it yourself, it is rather good. This made a lovely lunch. I would recommend the book.

Another Jamie meal –

Chicken Mince Mexican lasagne


This is one of those tasty dinners and any left overs make a great left over lunch.

Chicken Mince Mexican lasagne.


Oven 180

Loose bottomed cake tin- size of your tortillas

Dash of canola oil

500g chicken mince (sure other would work fine)

Onion sliced

Clove garlic, chopped

1 tsp chili powder (less if you must)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp cocoa powder

1 tin of tomatoes

1 tin (or 1 cup soaked and cooked) black beans drained

4 tortillas

1 c grated mozarella chees

Heat olive oil and add mince and onion, gently brown

Add garlic, spices and cocoa powder

Give a good mix and cook until onion and mince are cooked

Add tomatoes and drained black beans

Simmer with lid off for roughly 15- 20 minutes, stir occasionally

Remove from heat and allow to cool a little

place on of the tortillas in the cake tin

top with 1/2 of chicken mix

add another tortilla and top with the rest of the chicken mix

pop the last tortilla on the top

Sprinkle with cheese

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden and filling is bubbling

Leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving




add some chilli,garlic and onions, cook until transparent. I also add some chilli powder, paprika, cumin and a bit of cocoa powder. 
Then just a tin of toms and a tin of black beans . 
It really does take a lot of the spice to flavour it. 
Layer the mince between tortillas. 
Top with salsa or chicken mix and some cheese.
Bake at 180 for about 20 mins.
I make it in a spring cake tin so it is easy to get out.