South African Recipe

I haven’t spent much time in my kitchen the last few days, it’s been light meals and rushing around. My middle son has started college, and yes he is studying at a culinary school, wants to become a chef so he can teach his mum a few professional tricks. Our home feels empty with 2 of my boys now almost out the house, my 17 year old is staying at the college residence. Although he drove me crazy when he was at home I miss him terribly. The only positive is that I got to cook a Spicy Durban Chicken Curry, only because I didn’t have to hear his moans about the fact that he hates Chicken Curry and even more so if it was chicken on the bone.

This Spicy Durban Chicken Curry will definitely tantalize your tastebuds with it’s robust flavours. There are many different versions of cooking a chicken curry but my favourite is this one, cooked the South African Indian way with no fancy frills, just plain old chicken curry.

If you have eaten a curry cooked in a South African Indian home you will know a lot of our meat dishes are cooked with meat on the bone. The bone adds loads of flavour to the sauce or gravy as we know.

We do cook our chicken curry very similar to the way we would cook a Durban Lamb Curry https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/durban-lamb-curry/ . There’s is no quick fix to cooking a delicious curry, you cannot achieve the same results if you just add all the ingredients to the pot and just cook it in a hurry. You do have to layer the flavours, saute your onion and garlic, roast your spices and let the curry simmer on a low heat. The longer it simmers the more flavourful it becomes. It’s even more delicious if you allow it to stand for a while before serving.

I remember my mum sometimes cooked the chicken curry and then popped it into the oven for a short while, this totally enhanced the flavour of the curry. Like I have mentioned in a previous post it is best to roast your spices and grind them, you can store them in an airtight bottle. I don’t grind a whole lot, just enough to last me a couple of weeks so that way I know it still maintains its freshness. Nothing beats freshly ground spices.

If you love curries then you may also want to try some of these recipes:

https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/mince-curry-potatoes/

https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/gadra-borlotti-bean-curry/


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Spicy Durban Chicken Curry
Spicy Durban Chicken Curry cooked with Indian Spices
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Instructions
  1. Heat ghee and add the whole spices, cinnamon, bay leaf, elachie, black elachie, star aniseed. When it becomes fragrant add onion, chilli and curry leaf
  2. Saute until onion is slightly brown
  3. Add ginger/garlic paste and saute for a further minute
  4. Add the ground spices, coriander, cumin, soomph, chilli powder, masala and turmeric
  5. Mix well, add a few drops of water to prevent scorching and fry for a minute
  6. Add the chicken and potatoes. Season with salt. Simmer on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes
  7. Add half cup of water and simmer until potatoes are tender and soft. The tomatoes and amount of water I've added creates enough gravy, however you can add more if required. Please note that your gravy should be thick, not runny
  8. Sprinkle in the garam masala and crush the methi leaves with your fingertips and add it in. Mix well. Turn heat off and allow your curry to stand at least half an hour before serving.
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Flavourful One-Pot Indian Dish

I guess the next few weeks you will hear my moans about home renovations. I didn’t fully understand the stress that truly goes with it until now. Despite all my running around and making sure we have a smooth transition into our new home I still have to find the time to cook. Curries are truly a life-saver during stressful times, it’s a one-pot dish and can be made ahead. It’s why I thought this Spicy Lamb Rogan Josh with a crunchy carrot salad will work well with my busy schedule.

Living with my neighbours so close by I am sure they must get that aroma of curry at 10am in the morning. They are either cursing me for making them breath in the lingering curry smell or just because they can’t have some. At least I don’t cook a curry everyday or every morning so neighbours please bare with me until the craziness is over. I love sharing though so if my neighbours do stop by, I really don’t mind sharing my Spicy Lamb Rogan Josh.

Indians are great at sharing, nobody leaves our home without eating something or taking a doggy bag home. It’s a trait I have from my parents and I love it. I do hope my kids can still carry that love of sharing in their adult lives. Although my 10year is quite adamant he will not share his food with anybody…….let’s hope that changes.

Rogan Josh uses similar spices to what we use in our Durban Lamb Curry, it is cooked a little differently but both are equally delicious. https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/durban-lamb-curry/

This recipe makes an aromatic dish with succulent lamb as it’s simmered on a low heat for a long time, this also helps develop the depth of flavour. I know lamb has enough fat content but I did trim off all the excess fat from the leg of lamb pieces that I used. I used ghee and a bit of fresh cream for that added richness. It was mainly for the kids, my 10 year old will probably have it for every meal until the pot is empty, he loves any lamb curry that much, so I did splurge a little. I have noticed that the chefs at authentic Indian Restaurants use loads of onion in their dishes so for this one I added a lot more than I usually do.

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Spicy Lamb Rogan Josh
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Instructions
  1. Roast the cumin, coriander, cinnamon stick, elachie, star aniseed, cloves until fragrant. Remove from heat, cool and grind into a fine powder
  2. Heat the butter ghee and saute onion and curry leaf.
  3. Once onion is translucent add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute
  4. Add the cubes of lamb and mix in the ground spices. Add the masala and chilli powder. Mix it all well and saute for a minute or two.
  5. Add the tomato paste and yogurt. Season with salt. Add a pinch of sugar if the tomato paste is too acidic. If you feel the lamb is drying up too quickly you can add about a 1/4 cup of water or slightly more if required.
  6. Turn the heat down to a low settiing and allow curry to simmer for at least 40 minutes. The lamb should be tender and succulent. Add the garam masala
  7. Add fresh cream if you wish and serve hot
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I did post another version of my Vegetable Breyani or Biryani previously. However, this South African Vegetable Biryani is a long winded version and I would say more delicious. It is worth all the effort you put into it though.

This flavour-packed rice dish is an absolute favourite amongst vegetarians and goes down a treat even with meat-eaters. I call this South African Vegetable Biryani my “wedding version” as it tastes just like the one that was served at Indian weddings.  Especially if it’s accompanied by Dhall, you can double the recipe here, and a crunchy carrot salad. In South Africa Vegetable Biryani is typically served with dhall, do try it and you will thank me.

My list of spices may seem like a lot but it is these long list of spices that brings this delectable recipe together. South African Vegetable Biryani is a bold and flavorful dish. If it’s too spicy for you then you can always cool it down with some yogurt or raita. Lots of different vegetable can be used to create this dish but I prefer to use firm vegetable. There’s nothing worse than a mushy biryani. You have to be careful not to overcook your rice too.

Cooking the Biryani in the oven for an hour definitely keeps the grains whole and separated. I find that I am more in control of my cooking when it’s cooked in the oven. Biryani can easily scorch on the stovetop, if you not careful and it can be easily overcooked too. Rice is usually half-cooked before being added to the spiced veggies and you can add some turmeric or a little sprinkling of egg-yellow food colouring for the yellow colour. I love the addition of potatoes and you can steam and fry your potatoes. This method keeps the potatoes whole and speeds up the cooking process.


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South African Vegetable Biryani

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Instructions
  1. Cook the rice together with the elachie, cinnamon stick, some salt and turmeric (only if you not using food colouring) and set aside. If you are using food colouring sprinkle some over the rice but do not mix yet.

  2. Steam potatoes for a few minutes until almost cooked, season with some salt and shallow fry. Set aside

  3. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon vegetable or light olive oil. Add the cumin seeds and once it starts to burst add the cinnamon stick, black cardamom, star aniseed. Once fragrant add the bay leaf and onion together with the thyme and curry leaf

  4. Once onion is translucent add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute

  5. Add the ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, soomph, chilli powder and masala. Add a few drops of water and cook for a couple of minutes

  6. Add the vegetable, mix well. Season with salt. Cover and cook on medium heat. After 5 minutes add the mint and tomatoes. If your vegetable is drying up too quickly add some water and lower the temperature until the vegetable is cooked and tender.

  7. Add the rice and potatoes to the veggies. Mix it all together. Add a cup and a half of water. Scatter the cubes of butter over the rice and cook in the oven at 180 degrees celcius for 1 to 1&1/2 hours.


Recipe Notes

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For the vegetable, you can steam it for a few minutes until it's tender or you can cook it from scratch with the spices. I did steam my vegetable before adding to my spices. When adding the food colouring to the rice let is stand for a few minutes before using a fork to mix the colouring into the rice, this way it you will create little specks of colour in the rice. Do not substitute the butter with margarine, the flavour will definitely not be the same.


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Mince Curry with Potatoes was often cooked by my mum when I still lived at home, all of my mums lamb dishes were out of this world, delicious. My kids always rave about her cooking and insist that I cook lamb dishes exactly like “Ma”.

Most South African curries are cooked in a similar way to this Mince Curry with Potatoes, my Durban Lamb Curry is one of them. Although most curries are cooked the same way it’s always about getting the balance of spices right to make an amazing curry. I sometimes mix my own masala but I find a store bought one is so much more convenient, especially if you don’t have all the spices to go into making your own masala. . I must also admit living in Johannesburg is not the same as Durban where you have a spice shop around every corner and sometimes it is a challenge when you run out of spices. However, even store bought masala can ruin your curry if it’s not a great tasting masala. Over the years I’ve tried many different brands and although I try and stick to the one’s I love, I’ve had my fair share of disappointments with this too. So you will find that you may need to change your brand from time to time, I wish store bought masala recipes could be consistent but trust me they never are.

I try and stick to a medium strength masala as I find the extremely hot ones really does ruin the flavours in a curry, I love hot but not so hot that all you can taste is chilli. It’s not that difficult to make your own masala but it is time consuming as I do love roasting and grinding my own fresh spices. I will soon post a recipe for my very own masala.  I use Kashmiri Chilli Powder more for the bright colour it adds to my curries, it’s a South African thing, your curry has to look the right colour.  Anything but a bright red colour is unacceptable by South African Indian standards.

This Mince Curry with Potatoes is spicy, with just the right amount of heat, and mouthwatering. My favourite way to eat it is with fresh, crusty bread and sambals. You can also have an Indian version of a sloppy joe using this cooked mince.

 

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Mince Curry with Potatoes
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Instructions
  1. Heat oil in a flat pot on medium heat and add cinnamon, bay leaf, star aniseed and black cardamom.
  2. Once it becomes fragrant add curry leaf and onion and sauté until onion is translucent.
  3. Add ginger/garlic paste and sauté for a minute. Add chilli powder, masala, turmeric, fennel, garam masala and cook until it forms a paste, about 2 minutes. Add a few drops of water to prevent scorching.
  4. Add mince meat and potatoes and mix well. Season with salt. Turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes
  5. Add grated tomatoes and allow it to simmer until potatoes are soft. During the cooking time you can add a 1/4 cup of water or a little more if you feel the curry is drying out. I don’t usually require too much water.
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Firstly, I’m not even sure what’s the correct word for this dish anymore, far too confusing for my brain. Pilaf or Pulao is supposed to be a dish with a touch of spice and the rice and curry is mixed together and then cooked. Breyani or Biryani on the other hand is supposed to be a layered dish, a little more spicy than a Pilaf. Even for an Indian this can be much too confusing at times. I love food and I love reading all of the history behind some dishes but at the end of the day if something tastes great, quite frankly does it really matter if it’s a Breyani or a Pilaf.

I tried to keep this dish as simple as I could, it can be a tedious task but so worth it so you really don’t mind putting in a bit of effort. It is great to marinate your chicken overnight but if you don’t have the time to prep in advance it’s perfectly ok not to. I decided to make this on the  spur of the moment so I didn’t have time to prep in advance but it still tasted divine. It is a beautiful piquant dish and so worth the effort put into making it.

I used a cup and a half of rice but you an always increase the quantity to two cups. I also used about 80 grams of butter but you can easily leave out the butter or add less butter. If you not eating Pilaf everyday you can indulge in a little extra butter. It’s also best to roast your spices and grind them yourself, nothing beats freshly ground spices, the aroma is nothing compared to a store bought one.

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Chicken Pilaf/Pulao
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Instructions
  1. Wash rice, season with salt and cook until it's half done. Sprinkle a little food colouring in, cover and set aside. Do not mix in the food colouring immediately. After a few minutes it will give the rice a few different tones, when mixed.
  2. Preheat oven to 180 deg celcius. Boil your potatoes until half cooked, season and shallow fry them, set aside
  3. Heat oil on low heat, add the 2 pieces of cinnamon stick, elachie, star aniseed and bay leaf. Fry until fragrant and add onion, curry leaf, chilli and thyme. Sauté the onion until it is a little brown
  4. Add the ginger/garlic paste. Fry for a minute. Add the chilli powder, masala, ground coriander, cumin, soomph, turmeric, ground cardamom and garam masala. Add a few drops water and fry for a minute, then add the yogurt, mix well
  5. Add the chicken and the mint. Season with salt. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Cover and simmer for a further 10 minutes
  6. Mix the curry, potato and rice together. Place the cubes of butter on top of the rice. Sprinkle a cup of water over the rice and cook in the oven for an hour. You can leave it in for a short while longer if it's not fully cooked and add a few extra drops of water, if required. Once cooked garnish with coriander.
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The only bean I ate whilst growing up was the red speckled beans, I hated anything else in a bean form. My mum cooked these beautiful pink beans and it was called Gadra beans, I have no idea where the name comes from but I discovered on Google that the real name for these white beans with pink hues is Borlotti beans. I remember when I still lived at home going to the market on a Saturday was a real treat, my mum and dad used to visit the Verulam market which is in Kwazulu Natal, where I was raised. They bought the freshest vegetables and although it was cheap, Indians had to always bargain with the farmers. Some still do. I wish I had that trait but I don’t, I’m better at giving away things for free and I suck at bargaining so I won’t even try.

Barlotti beans is not so easily found in the supermarkets in Johannesburg, however Food Lover’s Market and Checkers Hyper do stock loads of vegetables that are consumed by the Indian population. I get really excited when I see the vegetables I grew up eating, I didn’t love these beans but now it has become a firm favourite on my meat free days.

In South Africa there are literally hundreds of variations to cooking any one dish. My mum cooked this dish totally differently to the way my mum-in-law cooks it. My mum created a dish, almost like a dry curry and my mum-in-law cooks it like any other bean curry with potatoes and lots of gravy. I prefer my mum-in-laws method as I get to add my most loved veggie to it, potatoes. Once cooked the beans have a creamy texture and a nutty flavour. It is a good source of protein and can be served with roti or rice.

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Gadra (Borlotti) Bean Curry
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Instructions
  1. Heat ghee on a medium heat and add cinnamon stick and star aniseed. Once fragrant add bay leaf, onion and curry leaf. Saute until onion is slightly brown
  2. Then add the ginger/garlic paste. Fry for a minute and then add all the spices and fry for a further minute. Add a few drops of water if required.
  3. Add the beans, season with salt and mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until all the moisture dries out
  4. Add half cup of water. Cover and cook until beans are soft. You can add a little more water during cooking time if it dries out
  5. Add the potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Add another half cup of water, cover and cook on a low heat. Please note the amount of water required depends on how much gravy you want and also depends on how fast or how soft your potatoes cook. Some potatoes cook really quickly and therefore you have to ensure your beans are soft before adding in the potatoes and be careful not to add too much water. If your potatoes are a more firm and takes longer to cook you may require more water as the longer the cooking time the more the gravy will reduce.
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Authentic South African Recipe

There is a perception that it’s the only those that live in Durban can make the perfect Lamb Curry. I was raised in Durban so I hope that counts. However, my mum who still lives in Durban makes the best “Durban Lamb Curry“.

I try my best not to use too much oil in my cooking and it’s something I take into account when cooking a lamb curry too. However, my 17 year old thinks it’s the reason my Durban Lamb Curry is not authentic enough. I definitely should add more oil and more masala, according to him that’s what takes the Durban Lamb Curry from good to great.

So here I was put to the test to replicate my mum’s Lamb Curry and I think I have done pretty well, This lamb curry turned out perfect with it’s robust flavours and melt-in-your-mouth potatoes. I think I have finally passed the test.

South African Indian dishes are a little rustic compared to dishes cooked in India, we do not blend everything into a smooth paste. You would also notice that we refer to the sauce in our curries as the gravy, somewhat confusing for those that don’t understand the South African Indian “lingo”. I think people are more familiar with seeing the gravy placed in a separate vessel on the side of the dish.

Lamb Curry was my absolute favourite dish until I had to quit eating red meat, nothing beats a good Lamb Curry. This recipe can also be used in a “bunny chow”. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain. It is a hollowed-out half or quarter loaf of bread filled with a curry of your choice and I think the Lamb Bunny Chow is one of the most popular bunny chows.

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Durban Style Lamb Curry
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Instructions
  1. Heat oil, add cinnamon stick, black elachie, star aniseed and bay leaf. Fry for a few seconds until it is fragrant. Add onion and curry leaf.
  2. Once onion is translucent and slightly brown add the ginger/garlic paste. Saute for a minute.
  3. Add masala, turmeric, soomph and garam masala and fry for a further minute. It will form a nice thick paste. Add a few drops of water if required.
  4. Add the lamb and mix well. Cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, Add tomatoes, season with salt and cover and cook until sauce starts to thicken
  5. Add the potatoes to the meat and allow it to cook for 5 minutes, be careful not to let it burn. Add a cup of water. Here you can add less water if you do not want too much gravy and if you are using very soft cooking potatoes. Sometimes the potatoes cook quite fast and your gravy would not have thickened by then, leaving you with a watery curry. Turn the heat down to a low setting and allow your curry to cook until gravy is thick and potatoes are soft.
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This is another Indian classic dish. It’s made with veggies and basmati rice or any long grain rice.  It is healthy and delicious with whole spices that makes this dish so fragrant. I wish you could smell my home whilst I was cooking this breyani, smelled divine. With my picky eating family I normally  think twice before making a veg breyani, I think the fact that it has veggies  in it is enough to put my two boys off dinner but they eat or they starve.  I always try and make dishes to please everyone in my family except me but today I thought I will be selfish and make something I can enjoy too. Breyani, I know can be a tedious process but trust me this breyani is cooked in one pot with no fuss and can be ready in just over an hour. I used green beans, carrots and peas with potatoes. Please try and use vegetable that remain firm, you really don’t want your vegetable getting all mushy in your breyani.  I bought a bag of basmati rice which cost me a small fortune but it was the worst rice I’ve ever cooked, I usually buy the Maharani Basmati rice, which is of excellent quality but the store that I normally get it from was out of stock. I settled for another brand and was highly disappointed. Therefore I had to use normal long grain rice for this breyani. But rest assured it is still delicious. You can double the recipe if you feeding a larger crowd but this was enough for my family of 4, with leftovers.


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One Pot Vegetable Breyani

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Instructions
  1. If you are using Basmati rice you can soak it for half hour, add the spices as in STEP 1, season with salt and give it a quick boil for about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. If you have some egg yellow food colouring you can add some to the rice but this is optional. If you are using long grain rice, such as Tastic (which I've used), you can soak it for half hour, season and cook until it's half done. Here too you can add some food colouring should you wish and fluff with a fork.

  2. Boil the potatoes until they are half cooked and set aside. Pre-heat the oven at 180 deg celcius. Heat oil in a flat pot, add the cinnamon, bay leaf, star aniseed and black cardamom. Allow it to fry for a few seconds, once itl becomes fragrant add the onion.

  3. Add thyme and chilli and let it saute with the onion until the onion is slightly brown. Remove half the onion and set aside.

  4. Add the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the green beans, carrots and peas. Fry for 3 minutes. Add masala, chilli powder, cumin, coriander, fennel, garam masala and turmeric, mix well and let it saute for 3 minutes. Add tomato and mint, season with salt. Cover and allow it to simmer until tomatoes are cooked.

  5. You can now add the potatoes and rice. Give it a little mix. Pour in a cup of water. Sprinkle the onion on top. If you are using butter you can add that on top too. Cook in the oven for an hour. If you think it needs to cook for longer you can add a little more water and cook until it's fully cooked.


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My mum definitely makes the best Fish Biryani, there is no doubt about that. I always found it challenging cooking this dish to perfection but I am getting there. I cooked my version of Fish Biryani with Basmati Rice. You must know from all my posts that I have a real fussy husband, everything has to be cooked like it is in a 5 star Indian restaurant.

I’m not sure if I will get that five stars from hubby, for this dish, but I do know it’s reaching my mum’s level of perfection. Indian cooking can be intimidating even for someone that cooks with spices often. Even I can mess up my cooking on my bad days, it’s all about getting the balance of flavours right.

Biryani is a dish that looks really complicated but it is not all that bad. With any Biryani it’s about showcasing the whole spices. It is the whole spices that’s the star of any Biryani recipe, therefore you have to go easy with the masala and chilli powder. It is rather difficult not to use masala in South African Indian Cooking, almost all of our dishes are cooked with masala. I did try to go easy with the masala in this recipe, although it may not seem like it from the quantities.

We never use frozen fish when cooking Fish Biryani, it’s always fresh fish straight from the fishmonger into our pots. This is what adds to the authenticity of a South African version of Fish Biryani with Basmati Rice. I do live far from the coast but we are lucky that we are able to source fresh line fish from our local stores.

I know a lot of people will cringe at the thought of adding boney fish to any dish but it’s exactly how it’s done here. The fish is cleaned and sliced but the bones are still intact so it can be a mission when trying to eat it, however there’s something about the boney fish that adds all the flavour to this special Biryani. If you love Biryani’s as much as we do you can try my vegetarian Biryani recipe, https://itsallaboutthekitchen.co.za/recipe/south-african-vegetable-biryani/

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Fish Breyani
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Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
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Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
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Instructions
  1. STEP 1 - Cook rice with the spices as stated in STEP 1, once it is half cooked, strain the rice. You can add a little egg yellow food colouring to the centre of the rice, cover with a lid and set aside. When you are ready to assemble the breyani fluff it up with a fork and the colour will spread to some of the rice grains.
  2. STEP 2 - Marinate your fish with all of the ingredients as stated in STEP 2, except the oil and refrigerate for half an hour. Heat the 1/4 cup oil and sear both sides of the fish, do not overcook and set aside. Do not discard the excess marinade as you will add this to the sauce.
  3. STEP 3 - The ingredients in STEP 3 is used to make the sauce that goes with the fish. In South Africa we call it a chutney. Fry one onion until golden brown and crisp, drain on a paper towel and set aside. Fry the second onion in the excess oil from the fish, add thyme, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, star aniseed, curry leaf and chilli Once the onion is translucent add ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute Add the masala, hilli powder, cumin, turmeric, ground fennel seeds, ground cardamom and fry for a minuteAdd any excess marinade from the fish Add masala, cumin, tumeric and fennel. Mix well and add a few drops of water if required, to prevent scorching and fry for a minute Add tomatoes and chopped mint Season with salt Cover and simmer until tomatoes are cooked
  4. Add the tomatoes and the excess marinade from the fish. Season with salt and simmer on low heat for about 15-20 minutes until tomatoes are cooked.
  5. LAYERING - Spread half the chutney in a flat, thick based pot Assemble fish on top Layer half the rice on top of the fish. Place half the cubes of butter on the rice. Add half the chopped mint Repeat this process, ending with a final layer of rice. Sprinkle the fried onion over the rice and place the remaining cubes of butter on top. Pour over a cup of water and allow the biryani to simmer on the stovetop on the a very low setting for 40 minutes to an hour until the rice is tender and the liquid has reduced Place the cubes of butter on the final layer of rice Sprinkle the onion on top Pour in about a 1/4 cup of water and cook in the oven at 180 deg celcius for 1 hour. You may need a little bit of extra time if the breyani is still too moist
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