Chicken Breyani from the Bo Kaap.

To me Chicken Breyani and the aromas of a fragrant curry simmering somewhere are reminiscent of the Bo Kaap. Whenever I visit Atlas Trading to stock up on spices, those are the aromas that await me in the area.
I imagine a family getting together around a table enjoying the fruits of the mother’s labor in the kitchen all day!Sadly though, I have never cooked Chicken Breyani! I have always thought it
too much effort and too many pots and pans to wash afterwards, but boy, was I wrong! I do not know if this is the authentic way of cooking breyani, but the aroma that filled my house yesterday was so authentically Bo Kaap that I was happy and content with my first attempt.

Here in Cape Town, at every school fair, church bazaar or fund raiser, someone is selling Styro Foam or Paper plates filled to the brim with breyani. Sometimes to save costs, the breyani is cooked  with only the spices and rice andyou could easily run a competition on the side: SPOT THE CHICKEN AND WIN  A CAR! No one will ever spot the chicken in the breyani, ’cause there is no chicken in the breyani!  A good breyani in my opinion should have whole pieces of succulent chicken, lentils, lots of onion and then of course a boiled egg on top.
I visited my local nut vendor to stock up on some dried fruits and nuts yesterday, when I saw packets of with  Breyani Mix on the shelf. It was just a blend of bay leaves, dried coriander, fennel, cinnamon, cardamom pods and all spice. Brilliant, I did not have to measure and count, I could just use this packet! In the end I used only some of the packet ( less than ½) which to you means absolutely nothing since you do not know the size of the packet, so I have scribbled down some quantities for you.

Chicken Breyani

4 chicken breasts – I used bone and skin  on ( more flavor)
500gr rice – basmati or normal
2 large onions sliced thinly
2-3 cloves garlic – crushed
thumb size piece fresh ginger – grated
1 tbsp  fennel seeds
1 tbsp dry coriander seeds
2 sticks cinnamon
2 star anise
5-6 all spice
2 bay leaves
3-4 cardamom pods – just cracked to release flavor
1 tbsp gara masala
1 tbsp curry powder
vegetable oil
about 1½ liters of  chicken stock
salt/pepper
1 tin lentils – drained and washed

4 boiled eggs
finely chopped tomato
chopped coriander
toasted almond slivers
½ cup sultanas or chopped dried apricots

Heat the oil in a pot and add all the spices at once and stir around for a few seconds.( this will release essential oils and flavors) Add the onions and brown slightly and allow to soften. Add the garlic and then the chicken. Move the chicken and onions around in the pot, allowing the chicken to brown slightly. Add some of the chicken stock and simmer for about ½ hour. Now add the rice and again fill up with more chicken stock. Lower the heat, place the lid on and let the rice and chicken cook together until the rice is cooked and has absorbed all the liquid. Add the lentils and sultanas or apricots  and stir through. Taste and adjust seasoning. Dish up and dress with the almonds, chopped tomato, a boiled egg and chopped coriander.

Other Cape Malay Inspired recipes that you can find here on My Easy Cooking.