Because of its vibrant multiethnic population, Singapore is one of the few places where biryani — a dish with origins in the Indian subcontinent — is regularly eaten for Lunar New Year. This recipe is from Shila Das, a second-generation Singaporean of Indian and Vietnamese descent who grew up celebrating the festivities. As a prolific home cook, Ms. Das has been tasked with making this dish for annual Lunar New Year potlucks. She learned how to make it from her father, who prepared it for Diwali. Serve with chicken curry; you’ll use its sauce in this dish.
- Serves: 6 persons
- 4cups basmati rice
- 5tablespoons ghee or canola oil
- ½medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1tablespoon minced garlic
- 1tablespoon minced ginger
- 1cinnamon stick, preferably Indian
- 3cardamom pods
- 1star anise
- 5whole cloves
- 1medium carrot, grated
- 1medium tomato, finely chopped
- 4fresh or 8 thawed frozen pandan leaves, knotted
- Pinch of saffron
- 4 ½cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1cup coconut milk or evaporated milk
- 1tablespoon fine salt
- Chicken curry
- ¼cup ghee or canola oil
- ½cup thinly sliced red onion
- ½cup raw cashew nuts
- ½cup golden raisins
- Cilantro sprigs
Step 1Make the rice: In a large bowl, wash the rice by rinsing it vigorously in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Drain well in a fine-mesh sieve.
Step 2In a large Dutch oven or very large skillet, heat the ghee over medium-low and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown and caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Step 3Add the garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise and cloves. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrot, tomato, pandan leaves and rice. Stir until the rice is coated with the aromatics and ghee.
Step 4Stir in the saffron, chicken stock and coconut milk. Bring the liquid to a vigorous boil over medium-high heat. Give it a stir, then immediately reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer until all the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 18 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice rest for 10 minutes.
Step 5While the rice cooks, prepare the garnishes: Heat the ghee in a skillet over medium-high and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the crispy onions to paper towels to drain, reserving the ghee. Add the cashews and raisins, and gently sauté until the cashews are lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 6Once the rice is done resting, sprinkle with the salt and ½ cup of sauce from the chicken curry, and fluff up the grains with a spatula. Arrange the chicken skin side up on a deep serving plate. Spoon the rice around and over the chicken. Sprinkle the crispy onions, cashews and raisins on top. Garnish with cilantro, and serve immediately with the remaining curry sauce in a small bowl on the side.