Sunday, November 18, 2007

Chicken Paella - Spanish Biryani?

Self Analysis of my blogging and cooking motives is something I want to keep away from. Why? Do I look forward to cooking new dishes so that I can post them on the blog or is it because I want to feed my family new and delightful goodies? I strongly suspect it is the former but like I said I don't want to over analyse. The family for quiet some time thinks that blogging is the only reason they get to taste new delicacies, not that they are offended, they are simple happy is what I would like to think of the fact.

But I confess, Paella is something I would not have tried if not for the pleasure of blogging about it. Besides the payback of enjoying this wonderful dish blogging gives the added pleasure of talking about the pleasure. Ever since I saw the dish being cooked at the DuPont Farmer's Market and having tasted it, is a wonder that it did not happen sooner. One main reason was not having the right pan, even toyed with the idea of buying the enchilada itself but I wanted to try the dish before buying the pan. Kind of a chicken and egg problem. I used a 16Qt stock pot which had a big flat surface.

Biryani - Paella
What is the commonality between Biryani and Paella? Both refer to the frying that is involved, one of the rice, meat and other ingredients and the other of the frying pan. In my opinion both are flavorful one pot dishes perfect for a party or just a relaxing weekend meal. There is nary a cuisine which does not have its own version of Biryani.

Recipe Source: Fine Cooking - Paella (Taunton)
Followed the general cooking guidelines from here but additions like chili powder and cilantro in place of rosemary was to suit the Indian palate. Added mushrooms because there were in the Paella I tasted. I did not have Saffron so had to leave that flavoring out, can't wait any longer. Could have added peas too.

To Note:
1. Use a rice that can hold its own after absorbing the liquid and the long cooking time. Read this article. So Basmati is not a suitable one. I chose Risotto rice and was perfect.

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1. 1 lb Chicken thighs with bones (cut into pieces of desired size).
2. 1 Medium red onion
3. 2 Tomatoes
4. 25 Green beans kind into desired size
5. 15 Crimini Mushrooms cleaned and cut into about 3 slices per mushroom
6. 6-8 stalks of coriander leaves
7. 1 tbsp chili powder
8. 1 1/2 Cups Risotto Rice
9. 3 3/4 Cups Chicken Stock (I used Vegetable Stock as I did not have Chicken stock on hand)
10. 1/2 head of garlic, remove the excess skin and make a slit on the outside + 5 cloves garlic sliced
11. 1 tsp pepper powder
12. 1 tbsp oil
13. salt to taste
14. 2 tbsp milk

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1. Sprinkle salt and pepper powder and let the chicken sit
2. Mince the onion in the food processor, set aside
3. Mince the tomatoes in the food processor

1. Heat a little bit oil in the pan, add the head of garlic, brown the chicken and set it aside.
2. Add the green beans and mushroom, bit more oil if required and saute them till they are half cooked, set aside
3. Now add the rest of the oil onions, sliced garlic and saute till they turn brown, At at this point I fished out the head of garlic and removed the skin and added the whole cloves to the pot
4. Add the tomatoes, salt and let them cook till all the raw smell goes and the color is bright red
5.At step 2, set the pot of stock to boil, when boiling add the chili powder to it.
6. Now add the rice to the pan and make sure the bottom is covered.
7. Spread the green beans and mushroom evenly, add the chicken
8. Reserve about a 1/4 cup of the stock and add the boiling stock to the rice
9. Let it cook on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes till the rice starts to plump up and the liquid has all been absorbed. Test the doneness, at this stage I had to add the rest of stock and let it cook for 3-4 minutes more
10. Now cover the layer of rice with aluminum foil, since I was using a deep pot I also closed the lid and let it cook like that for about 3-4 minutes again.
11. Add the milk, mix the rice, place the foil back, turn the burner all the way down and cook for another 5 minutes.
12. Switch off the heat, Don't touch the foil yet, leave it as is for another 10 minutes

That was one super tasting rice dish, even the kiddies asked for seconds. I was excited with the results and now seriously considering buying a Paella pan. I am hooked.


  1. I love paelaa, not that I have had it many times. Actually have had it twice and both times with lots of seafood in it. In fact I thought there needs to be seafood in it :D

    I love your version, and the fact that you Indianized it a bit, makes it better for me. Shall try out soon

  2. You really articulated those feelings so well, dear! I too wonder sometimes, if i would try some adventurous combos, were it not for blogging :-D. and the paella does look great! i make a vegetarian version sometimes and am as much fond of it as you are :).

  3. I am a big fan of both Paella and Biryani. The two are completely different to me. One is very spicy, one is more to creamy side. The grains also make the differences (basmati rice vs. paella rice). It is such a pleasure to see how a similar idea (chicken rice) produces such different results in different cuisines. And have I mentioned Chinese-style chicken rice? :D

  4. biryabi lookss soo yummy

  5. Sandeepa, yes without the chili powder I would not have had so much fun :), I cooked it in the afternoon and at night it tasted even better. Before the tasting at Dupont Farmer's Market my idea of Paella was it had to have seafood in it too. I saw a veg. version on TV - Tomato Paella. So it can be adapted to our tastes.

    Musical, conflicting emotions I see, saw a Veg. version on TV, if you like Tomato Paella :)

    Anh, they are indeed different other than both being rice dishes but with similar concepts. Nope, Chinese Fried Rice yes (fried rice I hear might not even be Chinese) but no not Chinese Chicken rice? You will post it soon yes?

    Sagari Yes, the Spanish Biryani - the Paella tastes awesome.

  6. Nice write-up. You tempted me so much by yours words. Even before I saw the pic I sarted liking it. Will try it sometime. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. nice info. didnt know about paella before!

  8. Spanish Biryani eh??? nice name and a very nice touch to spanish cuisine!! looks so delicious!!

  9. I love paella but never have made them at home asmy MIL makes the best paella i have eaten.
    But must admit your version sounds great with the indian spices

  10. This is unique for me. Will try your version sometimes.

  11. sounds cool and looks good.

  12. Hi ISG,

    I've never made a paella -- don't think I've tasted the real deal either. Yours certainly looks delish! I did not know milk was added. I think I'd like it better with your seasonings, too. Looking at the kerala red rice I bought, it seems to plump up like the Italian arborio/risotto rice -- wonder how that would work.

    Keep on blogging all the goodies you cook for the homefolks... or is that cooking for the homefolks so you can blog about it later? ;) Happy family and adventurous cooking not necessarily mutually exclusive, yes? :)

    Have a great day!

  13. I love seafood Paella, and I have never made it at home either... blogging does make us get out of our comfort zone for sure, and the family and friends benefit, it sure is a win-win situation :)


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