I am obsessed with trying out new rice recipes. Maybe its because we have rice only over the weekend, that too just for lunch, and instead of the boring plain rice I'm always looking for a variety of ways I can play around with rice. I keep getting updates from nigella.com and this recipe was updated on one of the days. I realized I had everything in hand and so made it.
I must say that it tasted good, except I may not actually add the chicken henceforth. It would be perfect on its own, with maybe a side of chicken curry or something. I love the fact that the procedure is easy and of course Nigella just makes it a tad more exotic. I watched her video for this recipe and the first few minutes I was completely distracted by her home and kitchen. Then the next few minutes I was trying to understand why she uses so many adjectives to describe food. Seriously this is how she describes the pilaf on her website:
"The cinnamon and lemony yoghurt marinade gives the chicken a soft, perfumed tenderness; the saffron in the rice, itself studded with nuts and the musky breath of cardamom (??????), is almost lit up with gold. "
Are we describing a hunk out of Mills & Boon or just some random Pilaf??? So while I was serving the rice, I started talking like Nigella (sans the fairy lights in the background) and telling Ro, "here's a touch of the Arabian nights in sunny Greenwich ...mmm beautiful isn't it?" Ro was annoyed and said I'd soon look like a "fat" version of Nigella if I didn't stop making rich carb-high food like this. That was uncalled for, but anyways, I enjoyed making this rice and eating it too :)
Recipe adapted from here
Yoghurt- 100 gms
Cinnamon powder- a little less than a 1/4 tsp
Pepper- to taste
Salt- to taste
Lemon juice- 1 tsp
Basmati rice- 250 gms (approx. 1 1/3rd cups)
Chicken stock- 500 ml (approx. 2 cups) I dissolved a cube of instant chicken bouillon in boiling water.
Saffron threads- 1/4 tsp
Cardamon pods- 2, bruised
Oil- 2 tbsp
Lemon zest- of half a lemon
Lemon juice- of half a lemon
Coriander leaves- to garnish
Marinate the chicken pieces with yoghurt, cinnamon powder, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Toss well and keep aside for at least an hour or overnight. Whichever is convenient.
Soak the saffron threads in the chicken stock.
In a large pan, heat the oil and add the rice.
On medium heat, sauté till the rice turns lightly translucent/ glossy.
Add the chicken stock with the saffron followed by lemon zest, lime juice, some salt and crushed cardamom pods. Give a good stir and cover with a tight fitting lid.
Turn the heat to very low and cook for about 15 minutes, or till you have noticed that the rice is cooked, and all the water has been absorbed.
While that's taken care of, remove the chicken from the marinade and shallow fry it in a pan with little oil or like I did, grill it on high in the oven for about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
Once the rice is cooked, remove from the fire and fluff it with a fork.
Transfer the rice into a serving dish, arrange the fried/ grilled chicken pieces on top and garnish with some chopped coriander leaves.
I served this with some chilled cucumber raita, baby tomato salad and some glorious white wine.
Notes: Now the original recipe calls for roasted pine nuts, cashew nuts and almond flakes. I didn't go there because for one, I don't really like the whole idea of biting into the nuts in rice and two, didn't want to add to the calories and three and most importantly, I was too lazy to dry roast it :)
Coriander leaves can be substituted with parsley leaves. I didn't have any fresh leaves and dried ones would have been bleh!
The chicken stock is salty, so watch before you add more.
The cinnamon taste in the chicken is quite obvious, so reduce or omit if you are not a big fan
Double the recipe to serve about 4 to 5 people.