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Saffron Chicken Biryani

This dish is filled with spices, warm, caramelized onions and fresh herbs. It is more warm and flavorful than hot, if you prefer heat then add a few fresh red chilis when you add the water or serve with Kashmiri hot sauce. It is easily made without an Instant Pot just plan for a longer cook time. This recipe owes a debt to Archana Muhnde and her incredible work at the Ministry of Curry.

Marinade for chicken:

2 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
One and a half teaspoons of turmeric
4 teaspoons curry powder
4 cloves garlic, chopped <br<>1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
Juice one lemon
3 pounds chicken drumsticks ( not too skinny, you want plump ones)
8 ounces tofutti cream cheese
A splash vinegar
A teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon salt


4 tablespoons garam marsala
2 tablespoons margarine
half a vidalia onion
1 tablespoon garlic salt
teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
A teaspoon chili powder
Half a teaspoon saffron threads(I bought a .014 ounce container and used about half)
1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 cup fresh chopped mint

First Marinate the Chicken. Mix together cinnamon, curry powder, turmeric, garlic, ginger, salt, Tofutti cream cheese and vinegar. No need to whip or whisk, just mix to combine. Take your chicken legs and cut a few slits in each one. Pour it all together into a gallon plastic bag. Keeping your hands outside the bag, smoosh around the ingredients until the chicken is completely coated. This is a fun job to do with a kid. Lay down flat in your fridge. Marinate for four hours.

Now, we get to work on the beautiful caramelized onions

Thinly slice 1 Vidalia onion. Set your Instant Pot to sauté. Melt three tablespoons of margarine. Toss in Vidalia and drizzle with honey, about a tablespoon. Mix to combine and settle into one layer. Try not to fiddle with it, you want it to brown and caramelized, so avoid over mixing. After about five minutes, mix to avoid burning. Continue this about 25 minutes, until onions are thoroughly caramelized and browned. Pour onto two paper towels. Cover and pat gently to capture excess moisture. Discard paper towels. Set aside.

You have some time now. I took my daughter on a playdate and cleaned the kitchen. You also could do these steps the night before or the morning before.

Thinly slice another half of a Vidalia onion. Turn your Instant Pot back to sauté and melt three additional tablespoons of margarine. As it melts add 4 large teaspoons of garam marsala, we want it to bloom in the margarine as the margarine warms. Stir regularly with a wooden spoon. If the spices start to stick or burn, deglaze with ¼ cup of water. I ended up deglazing 3 times. I was left with a rich, thick, onion and spice mixture after about 15 minutes. The house now smells good enough that curious members start gathering.

While the onions are cooking, set 3 cups of basmati rice in a colander. Rinse 3 times, running your hands through it so it’s rinsed evenly. Think of it as stir the onions, check the rice and rinse, repeat a few times. This removes excess starch and leads to fluffier rice.

Pour all of those chicken legs and all of the marinade into the Instant Pot. Give it a couple of stirs, make sure it’s all fully incorporated. Cover with the lid and set on pressure cook for 4 minutes. Set the pressure release valve once complete.

Give the chicken a good stir. Pour 2 cups of rice over. Season with garlic salt, salt, and saffron. Cover with 3 cups of water. Cover your Instant Pot again with the lead and set the pressure cook setting for 6 minutes. Hit the pressure release valve. Fluff rice with a fork. Finish with a touch of salt

Chop and mix cilantro and mint, lightly season with salt. Gently remove bIryani from Instant Pot and garnish with cilantro, mint and caramelized onions

Read more about this dish from the author and creator here.


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