Tag Archives: chicken

Never say never – ready made biriyani spice mix

I was just having a read over some of my old blog posts and remembering how much I enjoy writing them so thought I’d drop another one for your reading pleasure. Or my writing pleasure, you may not enjoy reading it. Sorry about that.

So after my my trip to Sri Lanka the travel bug hit again, but rather than have to go through another trip with my dad, I took my husband to Venice with his best mate and his wife. We went for the Damien Hirst exhibition but as the Biennale was on, it seemed rude not to fill our weekend with art, so we did. Lots of art. It was amazing. The wine, not so much, until we found a lovely place on San Pantalon (I KNOW, but we did wear trousers, so it’s all OK) and drank a lot of wine. And that was great.

But I’m not here to talk about the mediocre tourist food of Venice, I’m here to share with you my latest food cheat discovery – Biriyani spice mix. Rice is probably my second favourite carb after bread in all its many and varied and delicious forms (sorry coeliacs/gluten freers, you’re missing out). And is my go-to comfort food (you can take the girl out of Sri Lanka…). My sister’s lovely sister in law lives in Saudi Arabia and the last time she came to visit, she brought an amazing care package of spices and herbs and the aforementioned biriyani mix. I’n not usually a fan of pre-mixed spices, being a purist and all, but frankly, this was so good I’m converted.

So here’s my recipe, using the spice mix, similar ones are available in all Asian (and some major) supermarkets. FYI this serves approximately 478 people, but it also freezes really well, so freeze in individual sized portions and then simply reheat from frozen in the foil in the oven – easy week night treat supper.


Chicken Biriyani 

  • 600g basmati rice (wash and soak the rice, whilst you’re preparing the masala, for at least 30 mins)
  • 3 x onions, finely sliced
  • 6 x tomatoes
  • 5 x cloves of garlic, made into a paste
  • 1in of ginger, made into a paste
  • 8-10 chicken legs and thighs (skin removed but on the bone)
  • 3 x big potatoes chopped into 1-in cubes
  • 200g yoghurt (I used greek style)
  • 1 packet of biriyani spice mix
  • Water

Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add the onion. Fry until golden then remove 1-2 tablespoons of onions and put to one side. Add the tomatoes into the pan and fry till they’re soft, then add the ginger and garlic pastes, fry for 30 seconds, then add the chicken. Fry for a few minutes, till the chicken is golden, then add the potatoes, yoghurt and the spice mix. Stir well and fry for about 5 mins, till everything is coated. Then add 1-2 cups of water, bring to the boil then cover and simmer until the meat is falling off the bone – probably 15-20 mins.

Whilst that’s simmering, bring 8 cups of water to the boil and add the presoaked and drained rice to the pot. You need to keep a close eye on this, and take off the heat and drain just before it’s cooked – about 10-12 mins.

In the same pan as you cooked the rice, put a layer of rice back in the bottom, about 1cm deep. Then spoon over a layer of the cooked masala, repeat with the rice, then masala two more times. Try to ensure you’ve got equal quantities of chicken on each layer. Top with a layer of rice, then pour over remaining masala sauce. Cover and cook this for 8-10 mins, try not to stir it as you’ll lose the layers.

Serve with raita and poppadoms or just eat on it’s own, either way it’s delicious.






Eating down the freezer…

Did I tell you what I got for Christmas? I don’t think I did. Anyway, I got an ice cream maker. It’s not one of those that freeze on the counter top, it’s one that you need to freeze the bowl and then churn like a churning ocean of emotions (nb, I found a poetry book I wrote when I was a misery teenager today, so forgive any ridiculous turns of phrase…) 

The ice cream maker looks amazing but I haven’t been able to use it as our freezer is permanently full. Full like a bean bag, before the woes of the world drowns its liveliness with hugecrushing asses. Yeah. I’ll stop soon. It’s currently sitting on the shelf, next to the deep fat fryer that we also bought for Christmas, which we love. But more on that in another post.

So in the spirit of my new year resolution to spend too much money on stuff, I have made a plan to eat down the freezer so I can start making ice cream. Today I have taken three chicken legs, chorizo and some chicken breasts out of one of the overstuffed drawers and I’m making a chicken and chorizo stew. Admittedly, I’m making enough for about 14 people and I’m currently home alone (the wino is in Spain for “work” which has so far involved a five course lunch and a lot of fun) so that there’s the fear that I’ll simply cook a shit tonne of stuff and then refreeze it but luckily my sister is doing up her kitchen so can’t cook at the moment, so I’m taking this to her and her family tomorrow. I’m good like that. 

It’s a lovely simple recipe so I’m sharing below. I’ve put the amounts that I’ve used to clear out my freezer but you can make it bigger or smaller. Obviously. 

Chicken and chorizo stew

  • 3 x chicken leg joints
  • 3 x chicken breasts, cubed
  • 4 x chorizo sausages (the type that need cooking not the ready to eat type) 
  • 3 x red peppers 
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced 
  • Olive oil and salt and pepper
  • One tin of tomatoes
  • One tin of chickpeas

Heat the olive oil in a pan. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chorizo and slice into chunks. When the oil is shimmering hot, add the chicken and brown it on all sides.

Remove the chicken and leave to one side. Add a little more oil (not too much though) and throw in the garlic and chorizo. 

Let the chorizo brown for a couple of minutes then add the cubed peppers and let that cook for a couple of minutes too. Throw in the tin of tomatoes and then fill the empty tin with water and add that too. Stir the chunks of chicken breast in to the mix, then place the chicken leg joints onto the top. Bring the mix to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for around 30-40 minutes. At around 25 mins, add the drained chickpeas. For a thicker sauce, remove the lid from the pan around 20 mins in to the cook. 

Once it’s cooked, chop up some parsley and sprinkle on top. 

Serve immediately, with some crusty white bread. 

The meal that (may have) changed my life

A couple of weeks ago, I cooked dinner for some friends of my folks (I am actually the best daughter ever, despite what my parents would say). Earlier this year, I helped out these friends with some very top line research into a product they’re hoping to launch so it was great to put faces to email addresses. At this dinner, I was blindsided by an offer, that may actually change my life at some point in the future. But it’s too early to talk about that now, so instead, I’m going to talk about the meal I cooked for them.

My mum loves it when I cook Moroccan food so asked if I’d make a tagine. So I did. Rather than revisit my old favourite Christmas lamb, I decided to make a lemon, ginger and coriander chicken tagine so that it wasn’t so sweet-fruity as you’d get with dried apricots, it had a more subtle flavour from the lemons. I served it with a vegetable stew and roasted beetroot (I was trialling this in advance of last weekend’s supperclub) and some cous cous. Tagine recipe below. Wasn’t too keen on how it looked but the flavours came out really well – simple yet rounded. This recipe serves 6-8 people

The meal that may have changed my life

Lemon, ginger and coriander chicken tagine

  • 1.5KG of chicken, bone in, skin off (I used thighs and legs but you can use a whole chicken – I just find breast meat a little dry)
  • 1.5tsp paprika
  • 1tsp turmeric powder
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • A large nub of ginger – I’d say two thumbs worth – finely minced
  • A big bunch of coriander (save some for garnish)
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • Zest of two lemons
  • 1 lemon finely sliced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • A few strands of saffron in a small amount of water
  • 150ml of water
  • Oil, salt, pepper

Chop half the coriander, half the garlic and half the ginger finely and mix with a small amount of olive oil. Add the turmeric, paprika and cumin and rub into the chicken. Leave to marinade in the fridge for at least two hours (or preferably overnight).

Once you’re ready to cook (it takes about 45mins-1hr in total), take the chicken out of the fridge.

In a tagine (or large saucepan with a tight fitting lid), soften the onions and remaining garlic and ginger over a low heat with some oil. Stir in the lemon zest, then add the slices of lemon on top of this and then layer the chicken over the top of the lemon slices. Pour over the lemon juice, saffron water and water and bring to the boil. Turn down to a low simmer and put the lid on and leave to cook for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

If it looks like the water is cooking off, add a little more but not too much more.

If you’ve cooked it in a tagine, simply season, sprinkle over some coriander and serve. Or do the same in a saucepan or move it to a serving dish. Entirely up to you. However you serve it, it tastes damn fine.

Cous Cous with mint and pomegranate seed roasted beetroot

What to eat in Goa when you’re allergic to prawns…

About four years ago, I was at home, the wino was out and I decided to indulge myself with an old favourite dinner – salad with garlic and chilli prawns. About 30 mins after eating, my face started to feel a little funny so I headed to a mirror and was surprised to see that my face had swollen up to the size of a very large beachball. Given my face is quite round at the best of times, the fact that I’d noticed meant that it was quite an impressive swelling.

I called NHS Direct in a bit of a panic, they suggested I get my ass to hospital, so I did. An anti-histamine shot later, I was fine. A few weeks later, I went to a lovely Thai restaurant and ate a prawn cracker. Et voila, beachball face. Who knew prawn crackers had actual prawn in them?

Back to the doctor, referred to allergy clinic, long story short, I had managed to develop an allergy to prawns. One of the most heartbreaking things that’s ever happened to me – I truly love seafood. Whilst I’ve not been officially diagnosed with a full shellfish allergy, I haven’t eaten any shellfish since the diagnosis, apart from squid which I hadn’t really thought about being a shellfish, but it is (just the shell is on the inside).

So whilst I was super excited about going to Goa, I knew that I’d suffer insane amounts of jealousy watching the husband chow down on freshly caught prawns the size of rolling pins whilst I enjoyed yet another Russian salad. Yes, I could eat fish but prawns. I LOVE PRAWNS.

The wino's prawns.

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about – Goan food with its Portuguese and Indian heritage is wide ranging and diverse and there are a lot of delicious meat and veg based curries I could enjoy for those times when the ‘fresh’ fish plate they waft under your nose to choose your fish contains only fish with their eyes removed so you can’t see how not-fresh they are.

Whilst there were some terrible meals we ate, there were a few that were completely stand out and I’m still dreaming about them now.

Casa Susegad, where we spent our second week, has an amazing chef called Joanita who creates dishes based on your personal whim for dinner each evening. One evening, we asked for something traditionally Goan and were presented with Chicken Cafreal curry, a rich, unctuous dish of coriander, chilli and garlic all perfectly balanced and not hot, just beautifully spiced. As I recovered from illness this weekend, I decided to try and recreate this dish at home, with a little help from Google and my own little twist (based on missing ingredients).

Below is my attempt. Clearly not as a good – if you want it at it’s best, go to Casa Susegad!

Chicken Cafreal ingredients

Goan Chicken Cafreal – serves four

  • 8-10 bone-in skinned chicken legs and thighs (depending on how greedy your dinner companions are)
  • Marinade ingredients
  • A large bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro for my Yank buddies)
  • 8 green chillies – I used finger chillies but you can probably soften the heat by using larger chillies
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled
  • 2.5cm of peeled ginger
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (in Goa they use a seed called khus khus but I couldn’t find this and was told that sesame seeds are the closest match)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Other ingredients
  • Oil
  • Butter


  • Take all the marinade ingredients and put into a blender
  • Blend till you get a rich green sauce –  I had to add oil at this stage as my blender is rubbish but a tablespoon brought it all together
  • Pour this over the chicken pieces, cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for at least two hours – or ideally, overnight
  • Heat the butter in a large pan (that has a lid) with a little oil to stop it burning over a medium heat
  • Add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minutes till lightly browned
  • Add the rest of the marinade to the pan and add a little water (150ml) to stop the sauce sticking
  • Cover and cook for 30-40 mins until the chicken is cooked through
  • Serve with vegetables of your choice and rice

Personally, next time I make this I’ll probably increase the chilli as we like things a bit spicier but this was a good, mild curry. Also, you’ll think you’re adding far too much coriander but keep going – you want that coriandery warmth to be the lead flavour, not anything else.


Chicken Cafreal