RECIPE FOR IRAQI BIRYANI

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 70 minutes
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:
 
  • 1 (2.5 lbs) chicken, cut into 4 pieces
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 2 medium size russet potatoes, cubed and deep fried
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 1 cup peas
  • 1 medium onion, peeled
  • 1 cup vermicelli
  • 2 bay leaves, one lumi (black lime), 4 pods of cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon, grounded, of each: cinnamon, turmeric, clove, black pepper, cardamom, cumin, cubeb
  • 5 tablespoons oil
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup halved almonds (or pine nuts), fried
  • Salt to taste
DIRECTIONS:
 
  • In a deep pan, sauté the onion and chicken in 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the bay leaves, cardamom, lumi, and salt, and then braise with 7 cups of water for 25 minutes. Add the carrots and peas and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.

  • In a separate pan, stir fry the vermicelli in 3 tablespoons of oil. When it turns golden brown, pour in 1 cup of water, bring it to a boil, and then let it simmer over low heat until all the water is gone and the vermicelli is soft.

  • When the chicken and vegetables finish cooking, remove the chicken and place it aside. Strain the vegetables from the broth.

  • Add the rice to the broth and cook over high heat until the rice absorbs most of the broth. Then lower the heat and allow it to simmer until well done.

  • Add the strained vegetables (peas and carrots), potatoes, and raisins to the vermicelli, and then season with the ground spices and mix well. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes.

  • Fry the chicken on all sides to give it crispiness and a nice golden brown color.

  • Pour the rice into the serving platter. Put the vermicelli mixture on top and then the chicken. Garnish with almonds.

 

Hints:

  • Use a heat diffuser when allowing rice/vermicelli to simmer to prevent undercooking and burning.

  • Beef can be used in place of the chicken, but will require more cooking time.

Launching a culinary investigation of the origin of biryani rice, one would discover that biryani rice originated in Arab countries, migrated to India where it was added to and modified, then journeyed back to the Arabian Gulf as it is known today as the spicy and fiery biryani. Iraqi biryani (تمن برياني عراقي) is closer to the original version than the present-day Arabian Gulf biryani.
 
This biryani is not difficult to make at all. But it is a multi-stage and a potentially lengthy recipe. Obviously, Biryanis of various breeds exist: vegetarian, chicken, lamb, or fish.