I am struggling to believe it is already 4 days into 2012. Does anyone else feel like this? Christmas seemed to pass in a blur of presents and food and fun. Before I knew it we were celebrating the passing of another year, and what a year it has been. This time last year G and I were just embarking on the massive food photography adventure that now appears in The low FODMAP cookbook. I could never have imagined all the amazing things that were in store for us, and now I can’t wait to see what happens in 2012.
So how did you see in the New Year? To be honest, I was already catching zzz’s at midnight; poor effort, I know. We had spent the evening at my sister and brother-in-law’s home, well-entertained by kids and dog alike who had a blast with a bottle of dishwashing liquid and an old-fashioned slippery slide. After the sun had gone down we got the sparklers out and whirled them through the air to make some fun photos.
Around this time of year one dish that is traditionally served in our extended family is Biryani. It is a great crowd feeder and once all the preparation is done it pretty much takes care of itself. My brother-in-law, Marc, is from South Africa and before that his family is originally from India. There is some competitive rivalry over who in their family makes the best Biryani, but my vote definitely goes to my Marc because he made an onion and garlic-free Chicken Biryani for New Year’s Eve.
Biryani is a rice-based dish cooked in various Asian and Middle Eastern countries, each with their own variations. What distinguishes Biryani from other rice dishes is that each component is partially cooked and then layered in a pot to complete the cooking. It is also another dish that you can easily adjust to suit your taste and requirements, which I just love. For example, our NYE Biryani was made with chicken, but lamb is also delicious. A South African addition is green lentils. Now I haven’t eaten lentils for a long time because they are listed by Monash University as containing high fructan and/or galacto-oligosaccharide content. I was keen to try eating the lentils to see how I managed, and I am delighted to say I had no adverse reaction. I’m not about to throw large quantities of lentils into my diet, but it’s nice to try things every now and then to see if a little is ok. After all, the low FODMAP diet is not intended to be a strict diet, just one that can be adjusted by each person to get the IBS symptom reduction that they need.
Biryani may not be the most beautiful of dishes but it sure is delicious, even better the next day!
As a special offer for our United Kingdom readers we will be reducing the shipping costs until the end of January. Instead the normal AUD$35.75 for registered post (yes, international shipping can be hideously expensive), we will be packing and sending The low FODMAP cookbook to the UK for AUD$16.35. Don’t wait to place your order because this offer runs out on the 31st of January 2012.
Happy New Year everyone!
Serves 8+ people
Don’t be scared off by the long list of ingredients; most of them are spices you might already have in your pantry. You will need to start making this dish the day before you plan to serve it to get the best flavour. If you are unsure how you will go with chilli or prefer your food to be mild you might like to reduce the amount of chilli powder on your first try. The green chilli, with its seeds and veins removed, will add more flavour than heat. And remember, the lentils are optional if you are concerned about their fructan/GOS content.
1.2kgs skinless chicken thigh fillet, diced into 2.5cm cube
3 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1-3 teaspoons chilli powder, according to your preference
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon cardamom powder
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 large cinnamon sticks, each broken into 6 pieces
2 large bunches of coriander, finely chopped
2 large bunches of mint, finely chopped
2 large green chillies, seeds and veins removed, finely chopped
500g of natural yogurt, lactose or dairy free if required
2 cups of green lentils (brown in colour) – option to omit or reduce according to your tolerance to fructans/GOS
5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and quartered
50ml garlic oil
150g butter or dairy free alternative
4 cups basmati rice
Preparation the night before the meal
Marinate the chicken – Combine the chicken, ginger, spices, 1 bunch each of coriander and mint, and 1 of the chillies in a large non-metallic mixing bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 5-6 heaped tablespoons of the yoghurt and mix well; the mixture should be very moist. Cover and place into the fridge overnight.
Soak the lentils (if using) – Put the lentils into a large bowl and cover with water. Cover and leave overnight.
Next day – Cooking Method
Potatoes – Peel, wash and quarter the potatoes, then boil for 5 minutes until half cooked. Drain and set aside.
Lentils – Drain and rinse the soaked lentils. Place in a saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil with a pinch of salt, then drain and set aside.
Rice – Wash the rice, place in a saucepan and with cold water. Bring to the boil then drain and set aside.
Layering & Cooking of the Biryani
Preheat oven to 220°C.
Heat the garlic oil and 50g of the butter in a large oven proof pot that has a tight fitting lid over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken mixture, 50ml of water and 2 heaped tablespoons of yoghurt; stir well. Add the remaining chilli, coriander and mint, and ½ tsp of salt and mix well. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook to reduce the liquid until it just covers the chicken. Remove from the heat.
Arrange the potatoes evenly over the chicken and then scatter with the lentils. Spread the rice over the top and dot with the remaining butter. Cover the rice with a large piece of aluminium foil that reaches up the sides of the pot and folds over the edge; this ensures the potatoes, lentils and rice cook in the steam created by the juices below. Put the lid on and place in the oven for 1hr 10min.
Take the pot out of the oven, open the foil and using a long table spoon, go down the side of the pot and check that the rice and potatoes are fully cooked. The contents should be moist and not dry. If it is not completely cooked, put the pot back into the oven for a further 10-15.
Serve with Yogurt Raita
500g natural yogurt, lactose or dairy free if required
3 tablespoons raw sugar
½ cucumber, grated
1 small carrot, grated
1 tsp ground cumin
half a bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
Combine all the ingredients and mix well.