Beyond Brilliant

The ultimate chicken biriyani recipe from Southall's legendary restaurant 

Posted: 13.05.14

There are some restaurants that are so special, people travel for miles to get a taste of their cuisine - Brilliant is one of them. A Southall institution, opened by Gulu Anand over 40 years ago, it has becoome established as one of the best curry houses in the UK. The story of the Brilliant restaurant actually dates back to 1955 where in Kenya a man named Bishen Dass Anand (Gulu's father) opened a restaurant in Nairobi, which over the years became one of the most famous eateries in Kenya. The opening of Briliiant in the UK was a hommage to what that initial restaurant achieved. Still a family business, the restaurant is now run by Gulu and his daughter Dipna who has aquired her own cookery know-how as well as a celebrity fanbase including influential chefs  Heston Blumental and Gordan Ramsey. Dipna is a qualified chef and teacher and plays a major role in setting the Brilliant Restaurant's menu.

He debut cook book Beyond Brilliant contains over 40 recipes that have been taken from the kitchens at The Brilliant Restaurant so if you can't visit, this is the next best thing, or if you're a regular, now you can learn the secrets to your favourite dish. Each recipe is clear, concise and easy to follow with colour photography. As well as recipes there are lots of family photos and anecdotes making it a pleasure to read. There's a fine balance of vegetarian, meat and fish dishes as well as drinks and desserts and even how to make your own paneer. Give one of Dipna's Brilliant recipes a go with this, her ultimate chicken biryani.

Chicken Biryani

Biryani is a dish which was brought to India by the early Muslim settlers and now in India there exist many styles in which Biryani is made. This Biryani recipe is a unique one, one in which the rice and meat are both cooked together, similar to the Hyderabadi Biryani cooking technique. The only difference are that the meat is not marinated beforehand, and this recipe uses chicken as opposed to lamb or goat which are more traditional when making Hyderabadi Biryani. This Chicken Biryani is easy to prepare and only takes about 25 minutes in total to cook which is much less in comparison to some Biryani making methods. The whole spices used in this Biryani are what gives the rice and chicken their rich flavour. Most Biryanis also use food colourings to give the rice a colourful appearance. This one however does not, and is kept simple and basic, yet still produces a ‘Brilliant’ dish.

Serves 4-5:

350g boneless chicken, cut into small tikka-sized
300g basmati rice (washed, soaked for 30 minutes
and drained)
1 medium-sized onion, finely sliced
4 green finger chillies, finely chopped or made into a
1 whole green chilli, cut into julienne strips
2 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
125g Greek yoghurt
10 ginger julienne strips
2 tbsp fried onions
1 tsp red food colouring (liquid)
1 tsp green food colouring (liquid)
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
8 tbsp vegetable oil
15g salted butter, cut into cubes
350ml water
2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp kewda water (sprinkle as garnish at the end)
1 tsp rose water (sprinkle as garnish at the end)

8 cloves
6 black peppercorns
5 pods whole mace
4 green cardamoms
4 black cardamoms
3 small cinnamon sticks
3 dried bay leaves
11/2 tsp garam masala
11/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp red chilli powder

1 Finely slice the onion and leave to one side
2 Next, evenly coat the chicken with the yoghurt, ginger and garlic paste, red chilli powder, chopped green chillies, salt, garam masala, black peppercorns,
mace, cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf. Leave to one side
3 In a sauté pan on a medium heat, add the oil and once heated add the cumin seeds, fry the cumin seeds for 1 minute in the oil and then add the sliced onions
4 Cook the onions in the oil for about three minutes until golden
5 Add the marinated chicken spiced yoghurt mixture to the saucepan and cook for about four minutes
6 Add the water to the sauté pan, cover the saucepan and bring to the boil
7 Once the water is boiling, add the drained rice to the sauté pan. Stir to even out and put the lid onto the pan
8 After a minute, take the lid off from the pan, stir again gently and put the lid on again
9 After another minute, do the same: take the lid off, stir gently and put the lid back on
10 After another minute or so, the water will have been absorbed quite a lot. At this stage, lower the heat and slow cook for about 3-4 minutes with the sauté pan lid on(gently stirring twice during this time)
11 Then sprinkle the ginger juliennes and green chilli juliennes on the top of the biryani, together with the fried onions and three cubes of butter and also the liquid food colouring (red and green of each colour, drops in random parts of the of pan) and cover the biryani with foil and sauté pan lid (still on a low heat). Let the biryani steam cook for another two minutes. Do not stir
12 Switch off the heat and leave in the pan for another five minutes
13 Remove the lid and the foil from the sauté pan and add the final touches to the
biryani: fresh chopped coriander and sprinkles of kewda and rose water
14 Finally, gently lift the rice from sides of the sauté pan to combine, using a flicking motion with a wooden spoon to open up and separate the rice grains. Be careful not to break the rice grains
15 Serve

Beyond Brilliant by Dipna Anand is out now. You can buy a copy at the restaurant where you can get it signed or buy a copy online from Dipna also runs cookery classes. Find out more here and see what happened when we went along and tried out her class.  

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