I have been wanting to make Indian food for a few weeks now. But something always got in the way. Tonight we finally had the opportunity to make some biryani. Biryani is a dish that I have enjoyed at restaurants in the past (although I typically eat chicken biryani rather than shrimp biryani), but I have never attempted to make it at home before. Madhur Jaffrey is my go-to Indian chef so I decided that I had to use one of her recipes for my first attempt at biryani. One of our Madhur Jaffrey's cookbooks contains a recipe for lamb biryani, but I found this recipe online at Serious Eats. Since we had shrimp in the freezer and shrimp is healthier than lamb, I decided to go with the shrimp biryani, rather than the lamb. Another benefit of making shrimp biryani rather than chicken or lamb biryani is that a biryani with meat takes far longer to cook.
Alex and I are agreed that the biryani was good, but not our favorite Indian dish that we have made. The shrimp had nice flavor, but the rice was less flavorful than Alex had hoped. We added a little more lemon juice to the shrimp, which I think was a nice touch, but I wish we had added a little more cilantro to the rice as well. It also occurred to me after the fact that we could have added some mango pickle (like they do at the biryani cart near my office) or something else to the dish to give it some kick. Maybe next time?
Recipe after the jump!
Madhur Jaffrey's Shrimp Biryani
Available at Serious Eats
2 cups basmati rice
1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, halved crossways
3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 2/3 cups low-sodium store bought or homemade chicken stock
4 cardamom pods
Toss rice into a mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the liquid that comes off the rice is clear. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with water. Set aside for 30 minutes. When done, drain the rice.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the shrimp with the garlic, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, 1/3 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Toss well. Set bowl aside for 3 minutes.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently until they are nearly opaque, two to three minutes. Turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and place in a medium-sized bowl with the lemon juice and cilantro. Mix well.
Pour the chicken stock into the pan and add the cardamom seeds. Turn the heat to high. Use a wooden spoon to dislodge any brown bits on the pan. When the liquid comes to a boil, add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir well, and then cover the pan tightly, reduce the heat to very low, and cook for 25 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Remove the lid of the pan, and add the shrimp and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Cover and set aside for a minute. Then stir the mixture gently, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve in bowls.