Ki li tipti, ki li grand!
No matter how old you are, the smell of Chicken Briyani will never fail to draw you in. The instant hit in your face of fragrant fried onions that have been simmering in ghee, the aromas from bubbling water with rice being stirred into and the vibrant fresh mint leaves marrying perfectly with the spice mix leaving the whole kitchen heavenly delicious.I can hear tummy rumbles already! Rest assured it is always my case too whenever I am making Briyani at home. The Mauritian Chicken Briyani has been brought to you in partnership with Eclosia
I think this is among one of my lengthiest post on the blog so far. 31 Images in total to show the Art behind making a Traditional Mauritian Briyani. The favourite of many, the only dish that can get your inner child out by simply the mention of it and most probably the one dish that would easily make it to the National dish of the Island. Infused with such a rich folkloric and traditional culture behind, I really feel it is an Art! The Art of marrying flavours, the Art of layers and layers of aromas resulting into one bursting flavourful dish, the Art of being able to compose everything into one song only through different rhythms ( process- step by step)
Not only does the Briyani wins hearts of many but it also bonds the heart of many. Wherever you are or whoever you are, if there is Mauritian Briyani on the gas stove slowing cooking, you will definitely be dragged at the family table and be sent hoe fully fed. We fellow Mauritians always love to share and feed others heart fully opened! We are very much proud of our food and heritage as well. And the Mauritian Briyani fly the flag high anywhere and everywhere reminding us that we are one beautiful family.
Sweet reminiscence of my childhood really knocks me hard when I make Briyani at home. I mean Briyani would top the list of food to bring and share every weekend at the beach. We would go to a different beach every time on weekends. It was like weekends were the great adventure picture. I used to wake up very early in the morning and get my beach bag ready. The voice of Ma always reminding me not to forget to add the plates and glasses in the big bag , not to forget to bring my swimming suit, not to forget this and that. It was exciting times really with my father and mother very busy preparing for our family trip. Weekends were the days where we all would meet and share food too and Lamb Briyani would be my Aunty’s signature dish.
It took me some years really into mastering the Briyani. The Mauritian Briyani is really the number one street food to try if ever you are on holidays on the Island. From the busy city of Port Louis , Quatre – Bornes to Rose Hill and almost everywhere to be honest. The best moments though remain on a Friday at lunch time with friends all gathered around a chilled coke drink. Or on pay days, as take outs to bring at home for dinner and share with the family. It always has to be shared to double the happiness. One of the most beautiful sight that is still locked in my mind always remain while returning from work ( which I have quit quite a few years ago when I started blogging ). The bus would pass by Plaine Magnien, the smell was enough to stir my stomach and butterflies in. A big table would be laid with 2 -3 huge Briyani Deg already opened ready to serve. The view of them breaking the layers of rice and putting in take aways for the longest queue ever on a Friday evening.
Mauritian Chicken Briyani – Briyani Poulet Mauricien
Serves 5- 8 approx.
Preparation time : 3 hours + Overnight Marinate
Cooking time : 55 mins
- 6 Chicken leg quarters ( cut into two if desired )
- 6 cups of uncooked white basmati rice ( 1 cup = 200g roughly )
- 10 medium sized potatoes cut in halves
- 2 kg finely sliced red onions
- 1 plain yogurt
- 2 tbps garlic/ginger paste
- handful of mint leaves
- 100 g clarified butter
- vegetable oil
- couple of green chillies (optional)
- Jaffran/Saffron or a pinch of yellow food colouring mixed with 4-5 tbps of water
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 lemon
Spices mix ( optional – if not you can buy any store bought briyani spice mix )
- 4 Cinnamon sticks
- 10 cardamom pods
- 10 cloves
- 2-3 start anise
- 1/2 cup of cumin seeds (ti lanis)
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup of coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp of fennel seeds (gros lanis)
- 1 tbsp black pepper seeds
- 1 tsp of turmeric powder
- In a big bowl add the chicken cuts, 2 tbsp garlic/ginger paster , salt and drizzle over vegetable oil. Cover with clingfilm and marinate chicken overnight.
- Wash the rice throughly until water is clear and leave to soak for 2 hours prior cooking.
- Sliced the onions finely and reserve. Do the same for the potatoes. Slice and reserve topped with water to shallow fry later.
- In a deep base pan – Karaye add 3 tbsp of clarified butter (ghee) and vegetable oil for deep frying. Mix 1 tbsp of brown sugar into the finely sliced onions and deep fry until crispy almost caramelised brown. Reserve.
- Salt and add a pinch of yellow food colouring (optional) to the potatoes and slow fry in the same oil. Reserve.
- Do the same for the chicken cuts that you marinated overnight.
- Next in a very big pot , add water to a boil. Throw in the sliced lime wedges, a few tbsp of salt and 1 tsp of cumin seeds and let it reach boiling point.
- In the final cooking vessel – either a Deg or Lecreuset or even Deckhi ( as shown in my pictures ) , lay down the fried chicken pieces, potatoes and mix altogether with the briyani spice done beforehand along with 1 plain yogurt.
- Cover the all with water and drizzle over a good amount of oil on top. Add the pre boiled rice (for 15 mins only) on top followed by fried onions and finely chopped mint leaves.
- Followed by a few drizzle of the saffron/jaffran (soaked in warm milk) on top. Then layer the second batch of rice over repeating same steps i.e fried onions, mint leaves and jaffran until all the rice is used.
- Finish the top later rice with spoonful of ghee on top and sealed with flour dough around the edges making sure no air/steam escapes while cooking.
- Put on a slow fire for 45-55 mins or until the flour dough is dry and cooked.
- Break the layers on a big tray and serve with tomato chutney or cucumber salad as condiments.
Pssstt! This way for a few tips and tricks I learned over the years of making Briyani!
- For more depth of flavours, some people marinate the meat overnight along with one cup of coke/pepsi. It is normally used when marinating beef cuts.
- To make your onions crispier and adding a caramelised taste to it, brown sugar can be used or even a tbsp of vanilla essence.
- Lime wedges and salt are added to the rice water before reaching a boil only to increase the fragrance of the cooked rice.
- Chicken cuts can either be fried or lay down raw at the base of the pot. It doesn’t make much difference to be honest. If you are making Briyani in the rice cooker, you can lay the chicken uncooked/marinated and top with layers of rice.
Please note that these are optional and only meant to add more flavours to the dish. You can definitely customise it to your own desired taste – a healthier version maybe.