Yearning for another bite of unforgettable Muscat, we’re attempting to recreate the dish Raffles most enjoyed on our holiday, an Omani style Chicken Byriani, or ByriOmani (as he calls it).
It’s a great dish to add to our repertoire and is reasonably uncomplicated (at least compared to a Souffle). In fact it’s so easy that we going for recipe mash-up, adapting a Persian recipe and tossing in a few other touches and methods that better fits our memory of Oman. The best thing about Byriani is that it’s not an exact science and you can add and subtract spices at will and still end up with a delectable dish.
Raffles loves this experimental style of cooking and makes suggestions along the way. The one about adding chocolate is resolutely ignored.
He counts out the dry herbs for me, stopping to sniff and tell me with great delight how disgusting they all smell. Helpful.
My little sous chef particularly digs mixing the marinade and watching the spices change the colour of the yoghurt from white to yellow. He slaps it, quite brutally, over the poor chicken and we leave it to marinate for a few hours.
While we wait Raffles ties one of my scarves around his head to watch the fairly ordinary Sinbad – Legend of the Seven Seas and get his Arabic adventurer on. We continue our Middle Eastern theme by nibbling on some sticky sweet dates and pita bread crisps, drenching the latter in some hummus I made earlier.
Sinbad has sailed, so it’s time to prepare the rice and the saffron rose milk and we begin layering our concoction in a huge pot.
This is a really great dish for Raffles as there is plenty of colour and “craft” to the exercise but it requires very little ongoing maintenance so to speak…
Our dinner almost ready to serve, we decide to set an Omani mood and burn a little of the frankincense we picked up in Muttrah Souk.
Raffles watches as I carefully tip our pot of goodies upside down on to a platter and as he proudly presents our finished “ByriOmani” to the rest of the family. The aroma is unmistakable. “It smells just like Oman, mummy”.
As we dig in to the delicious fluffy rice, it transports us back and we reminisce about our adventure, Raffles getting especially sentimental for “Horsey the Camel“. It’s a great opportunity to talk about what we learned about Omani culture and customs. The meal and the memories leave us yearning for another dose of this amazing country. Oman, you and your wonderful food are under our skin.
Raffles Chicken ByriOmani
500g basmati rice
1kg chicken thigh cutlets
200 grams natural yoghurt
1 large onion finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
3 cloves of crushed garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger paste (made with ground ginger and olive oil)
2 birds eye chillies, roughly chopped
Pinch of saffron
1 cup of warm milk
1 teaspoon rosewater
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cardamom pods
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup of fresh chopped coriander leaves 2 tsp
2 tsp garam masala powder
3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Wash and drain chicken.
- Mix together the yoghurt, salt, turmeric, coriander, cumin powder, garlic and ginger, cover chicken and allow to marinate.
- Wash the rice and leave to soak in cold water for 30 minutes with the whole spices.
- Soak the saffron in the warm milk and add rose-water and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and fry onion until lightly browned and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
- Place the chicken into a large heavy pot with the yoghurt marinade.
- Sprinkle with half the fried onions and half the chopped coriander
- Add the drained rice and the remaining onions, coriander, chillies, lemon juice, saffron, rose milk and garam masala.
- Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of olive oil.
- Make a hole in the the mixture, cover with a lid and place on medium heat until steam rises.
- Reduce heat and cook on low heat for around 45 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork then cover the saucepan with a large upside down plate. Hold the pot and plate tightly together and flip. Rice should come out on the plate, with the chicken on the top. Serve with a little greek yoghurt and chopped cucumber.
500g can chickpeas, drained
2 large garlic cloves
Salt to taste
juice of one lemon juice
50ml olive oi
1 tsp cumin
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and process on high-speed until combined.
- Use a spatula to scrape down bowl and process again until smooth adding a little water if necessary
- Serve with home-made Pita crisps.
- May the forts be with you (boyeatsworld.com.au)