Honeyed Chicken And Eggplant Biryani Recipe

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London-based writer and cookbook author Hattie Ellis' new book, Honey, combs the globe to find the best recipes starring sweet, natural honey. From sweet to savory, appetizer to dessert, if you're a fan of this versatile sweetener, she has a recipe for you.

Food stylist and writer Sunil Vijayker worked on the photographic shoot for this book and shared some tips from his great knowledge of Indian food about how to make a biryani especially good. There are many different honeyed components in this dish but each one plays its part and overall there is less work involved than first appears–and any time and effort is certainly worthwhile. Serve with a salad or green vegetable.

Reprinted with permission from Honey

Honeyed Chicken And Eggplant Biryani Recipe
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  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons long-grain rice
  • 1 eggplant
  • olive oil for shallow frying
  • 4 large chicken thighs
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons mixed mint and coriander leaves
  • lemon wedges
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 large onion
  • sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  1. Soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes, then drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. For the marinade, mix together the lemon and honey in a large bowl, and season to taste.
  4. Cut the eggplant into 1 1/4-inch cubes.
  5. Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in a wide sauté pan over high heat and cook the eggplant, in two or three batches, until softened and lightly browned.
  6. Stir into the honey marinade and put to one side.
  7. Pour some more oil into the pan and brown the chicken over a medium-high heat for about 5 minutes on each side.
  8. Transfer to a baking sheet and put in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until nearly cooked.
  9. Pour a little more oil into the pan if necessary and gently cook the onion and garlic for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft.
  10. Add the cardamom, cumin and coriander and stir around in the onion for a minute or so.
  11. Add the drained rice and stir for another minute, until the rice is well coated in the fat and spices.
  12. Pour in the stock, season with salt and pepper to taste, add the cinnamon and press the chicken into the rice.
  13. Scrunch up a piece of parchment paper slightly bigger than the diameter of the pan and wet it under the tap.
  14. Put it on top of the rice, cover with a lid and cook gently (ideally on a heat diffuser) for about 10-12 minutes, until the rice has absorbed the liquid.
  15. Turn off the heat and leave for 20 minutes with the lid on.
  16. Make sure the chicken is cooked through.
  17. Meanwhile, for the honeyed onions, cut the onion in half and then into semi-circular slices. 
  18. Heat about 1 1/4 inch of oil in a deep pan over high heat for a couple of minutes.
  19. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or so, until browned, stirring frequently. 
  20. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. 
  21. Put in a bowl and stir through the honey.
  22. Transfer the rice and chicken to a big serving platter, or serve from the pan.
  23. The rice may have formed a crust on the bottom of the pan: this is a delicious part of the dish, so ease it off the base and serve a piece for each person.
  24. Warm 1 tablespoon honey (10 seconds on medium-low in a small bowl in the microwave) and brush it over the chicken.
  25. Scatter the eggplant and then the herbs over the dish and squeeze over some lemon juice. 
  26. Scatter the honeyed onions and pomegranate seeds over the top and serve with a lemon wedge on each plate.
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