Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving leftovers: Turkey Biryani

Biryani is an amazing dish which has spread all over southern Asia. It's probably best known in India, but the word biryani actually comes from the Persian word for rice 'birinj'. The most basic description for biryani is rice, spices and meat all cooked together in layers.  I make a Pakki Biryani which means the meat and the rice are both partially cooked before they are layered together in an oven proof dish and baked.

The turkey meat is marinated with yogurt and Indian spices then sautéed with more spices, grated onion and tomatoes. It's finished with French's Fried Onions in the top layer. Dried cranberries are added during the par-boiling of the rice.


For the Marinade:
2-3 lbs of chopped turkey
2 C Greek style yogurt
1 T Garam Masala 
1" of ginger minced
3 cloves of garlic minced
3 T oil or Ghee
2 Star Anise
2 Cloves
1 T fennel seed
1 t Black mustard seed
Another 1T Garam masala 
1 large onion, grated
1 small can tomato puree

For the rice:
1.5 cups of basmati rice rinsed then soaked for 30 minutes prior to cooking.
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anises
4 cloves
1 T Garam Masala 
1 t Turmeric
1/2 C Craisins

French's Fried Onions

Combine the turkey, yogurt, first tablespoon of Garam masala, ginger and garlic. Let this marinate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the spices until they are fragrant starting with the largest and working your way to the last tablespoon of Garam Masala. Once the Masala has become fragrant add your grated onion and bhunao it, which means cook it until all the water is gone and the oil starts to seep out from the onions and the spices. This is absolutely the most important step to getting the most flavor out of your spices!

Add the tomato puree and let it cook down for 10-15 minutes. Add the yogurt turkey mixture and let it cook down again for 10-15 minutes.

Bring 4 cups or more water to a boil and add the dry spices to the water. We are using too much water to cook this rice on purpose; we will be pulling it out in batches as it slowly cooks. Add in the rice and cook it for about 15 minutes until it's par-cooked.

Start layering your par cooked rice into the bottom of a tall oven proof pot or pan with a well fitted lid. You want to layer about 1/3 of the rice into the pan. Take it out of the boiling water with a spider strainer or a slotted spoon. Then layer half of your turkey mixture on top of the rice.

Once you've got the first layer done add a few yams on top and add the second 1/3rd of your rice mixture. Add the second half of the Turkey mixture and some more yams. Add the last of your rice to the top and garnish with French's Fried Onions.  By the time you are taking the last of your rice out of the pot it should be 100% cooked. I finished it with a little drizzle of Sriracha.

Cover the lid of the pot and put it into a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes.

Once it's out of the oven you can sprinkle it with diced cilantro or serve it with sprigs.

This reheats well in the microwave, just add a few splashes of water and microwave on high until warm!


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