While most would associate biryani with Indian cuisine, it is thought to have originated in Persia from a dish ‘birinj biryan’ which translates as fried rice. A dish with such a widespread popularity obviously has versions with regional variations, the Kurdish version is quintessential to Kurdish cuisine. The ingredients are prepared individually in stages and combined at the end, along with biryani spices to create a perfect balance of sweet and savoury: buttery rice, toasted nuts, spices, dried fruit and chicken.
- 800g aged basmati rice
- 100g ghee
- 150g vermicelli
- 1 can chickpeas, drained
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
- 500g potato, peeled and diced into 1cm cubes
- 120ml vegetable oil
- 60g slivered almonds
- 100g dried unsweetened blueberries
- 100g dried apricots, sliced
- 800g chicken breast, cut into small cubes
- 1 brown onion, sliced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 tablespoons Baharat/biriyani spice
- 900ml chicken stock, hot
- Black pepper
- Sea salt
- Pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachio, to garnish
1. Getting started
Put the rice in a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly under running water, until water runs clear.
Heat the ghee in a heavy based saucepan over a medium heat, add the vermicelli, fry, stirring constantly until golden. Add the chickpeas, frozen peas and carrots along with 250ml water. Cook until the water is absorbed. Transfer to a container and set aside.
2. To cook the potatoes
Toss the cubed potatoes with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat a well-seasoned caste iron fry pan (or non-stick fry pan) over a medium heat, add the potatoes and sauté gently until crisp and golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.
3. To cook the almonds, fruit and chicken
Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to the pan, add the almonds and sauté over a medium heat until golden. Add the blueberries and apricots, sauté for a further 30 seconds. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Next cook the chicken breast, add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan, add the chicken and cook over a low heat until the chicken is just cooked through.
4. To cook the rice
Add the remaining oil to a heavy based saucepan, heat over a medium heat, add the onions, sauté until softened. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon, 2 tablespoons biriyani spice, rice and hot stock. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed, reduce heat to very low, cover tightly, cook for 20 minutes.
5. To serve
Fluff up the rice, discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, then gently stir through the vermicelli, the potatoes, chicken and the almond fruit mix. Season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a little sea salt to taste. Garnish with pomegranate and chopped pistachios.