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Practicing cooking Durban Chicken Breyani

Topped with some butter, ready to be steamed in the oven

Yesterday, I had my heart set on really taking my time and practicing cooking a proper Durban Chicken Breyani, using my sample of Durban Curry Lovers, Breyani Masala.

This is a new addition to the Durban Curry Lovers range of all-in-one masalas, and will be available on our online store in the second week of April.

To put my day in context, I had been working since 4:30am making sure all my work sites are covered and safe as there was a violent taxi strike in Cape Town yesterday. I work full time in the security industry.

I called up the Spice Master and asked him for some guidance in regards to quantities of masala etc. He is an absolutely outstanding cook and I was determined to try and reproduce his masterpiece that he cooked earlier in the week.

I had 8 pieces of chicken. 4 Thighs and 4 Drumsticks, weighing just over 800g which is a bit on the small side and thus we miscalculated the amount of masala required. I used 7 tablespoons, when it should have been 4. No problem, it was easy enough to remove three tablespoons.

To the 4 tablespoons of Durban Curry Lovers Breyani Spice, I added 1 Tablespoon of our Madras Masala. (another all-in-one masala available second week April)

The Spice Master is very precise. These spices and masala’s are the result of his life’s work and using the correct quantities is essential to getting the most out of these beautiful spices.

Before removing 3 Tablespoons of Breyani Masala

The beauty of this all-in-one Breyani Masala is in it’s simplicity. One only needs to add yoghurt, ginger & garlic, lemon juice, some fresh dhania and a handful of fresh mint leaves to the chicken (or whatever else you are cooking) give it a good stir and then let it marinate for a few hours or overnight.

As this cook was a spur of the moment, I only marinated the chicken for 2 hours. I also did not have any mint leaves, as the pack that was in the fridge went bad.

Anyway, not a train smash. This is a practice round, anyway.

I chopped up 5 onions in my food processor using the medium slicing blade. It is important that the onions slices are all the same size, so that when you are frying them to a golden brown, they cook evenly.

I heated up about 100ml of oil and added the onions to fry up until they are crispy.

Then, my friends. Things started to go pear shaped, in that my work phone started ringing and did not stop until after 20h30 last night. I lost concentration on a number of critical steps and made a few mistakes, as I I could only get to the tasks on hand between the calls and my concentration was elsewhere.

What is supposed to happen, is that you fry the onions until golden brown and set half aside. You add the marinated chicken and the sauce to the remainder of the onions and you let it cook down, like you would a normal curry.

At the same time, you fry the potatoes so they look almost like roast potatoes and you set them aside until you set/layer/build the breyani.

You then also cook the rice until it is 3/4 cooked. You may need to cook it a little more or a little less depending on what rice you use. I used basmati, which cooked very fast …. a bit too fast, as I definitely cooked it a bit much. You would also need to cook some brown lentils, which get added in when layering, either with the rice or straight onto the chicken. I have seen it done both ways.

As I was pressed for time, I cooked the lentils along with the rice. It actually worked out ok, albeit just a touch over cooked.

Whilst soaking the lentils, I noticed that some were floating. I consulted the wise members of our Facebook Group and learned that the lentils that float should be removed, as they are old.

When the chicken is almost cooked it is showtime. Dish the chicken out if you are using another dish to steam your breyani, or if you are using the same pot then you can start layering the rice directly over the chicken. You then layer the potatoes, some mint leaves, dhania leaves and top it off with the crispy onions that you set aside earlier. Top with a few pieces of ghee or butter.

You can add a few drops of egg yellow food colouring or powder to give your rice some colour. Some even add a few drops of red when they really want to show off.

Once you have layered the briyani, cover with tinfoil and place in the oven or on the stove or fire to steam. I have heard people suggest steaming at anything from 180’c to 220’c

I am not going go into too much detail here as this was a practice run and I am still trying to figure it all out. Here are some detailed breyani recipes .

One I have got it right, I will publish my recipe.

Please also note that I am using an all-in-one Breyani Spice, the recipes above call for a selection of whole & powdered spices.

Anyway. I was not really in the mood to eat last night, so only had a small bite. My son loved it, the flavour was there, but small things like overcooking the basmati rice affected the end result. I also could have cooked the chicken a bit more to really punch the flavour.

I dished up a portion this afternoon, heated it up with a splash of water to create steam.

It was very tasty. I would say a 6 out of 10. The flavour was out of this world, but I noticed my mistakes.

I also have to say that I think that I prefer using maas to yoghurt. I will need to experiment with both and decide.

With just a little bit more attention and a bit more time, it would have been an absolute bombshell of a dish.

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