500g chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp peeled and finely grated root ginger
2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
4 green cardamoms, seeds only
½ -1 tsp medium-hot chilli powder
1 tbsp natural unsweetened yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 tbsp groundnut oil
½ tsp salt
1 medium onion, finely sliced
200g basmati rice, or any other long-grain rice
4 tbsp full-fat or semi-skimmed milk
a few saffron strands
15g butter or ghee
Mix the chicken with the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom seeds, chilli, yogurt, lemon juice, 1 tbsp of the oil and the salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
Heat 3tbsp of the oil in a small frying pan, and fry the onion for 5 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Set aside. Rinse the rice thoroughly in cold running water and place in a pan with 400ml boiling water. Cover and boil for 8 minutes or until the rice is half cooked. The grains should be soft on the outside but still hard in the centre. Gently warm the milk and soak the saffron strands for a few minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based pan and fry the marinated chicken for 15 minutes until well browned. Stir in the fried onion. Grease the base of a large heavy-based casserole with the butter or ghee. Add the meat mixture followed by the parboiled rice. Pack the rice firmly into the casserole.
Pour the saffron laced-milk over the rice. Cover tightly and bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve hot with a yogurt raita. It’s good with extra fried onions, sultanas and roasted cashew nuts, too.