500g boneless and skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp peeled and finely grated root ginger
2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp natural unsweetened yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
5 tbsp sunflower or olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 large onion, finely sliced
200g Basmati Rice
4 tbsp full-fat or semi-skimmed milk
8-10 saffron strands
15g butter or ghee
a few mint leaves, washed plus one sprig for garnish (optional)
In a bowl, mix the chicken with the garlic, ginger, green chillies, chilli powder, cumin, garam masala, yogurt, lemon juice, 1 tbsp of the oil and the salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat 2 tbsp 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 half of the fried onion. Grease the base of a large heavy-based casserole (which also has a lid) with the butter or ghee. Add the chicken mixture followed by the parboiled rice. Pack the rice firmly into the casserole. Spread the remaining fried onions on top. Sprinkle with mint leaves, if using.
Pour the saffron laced-milk over the rice. Cover tightly and bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve hot with a yogurt raita.