Wider Horizons

For Chef MD Sharif Muntasir (Culinary Careers 2019; current Cook Apprentice), biryani is the dish that reminds him of home. He grew up in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, and left at the age of 19 to pursue his passion for cooking. “We always have biryani at any family get-together or celebration,” he says. “As I don’t have any family in Canada, sometimes I cook chicken, beef or lamb biryani and eat it with my girlfriend. The aroma from the biryani reminds me of my childhood and all my family members back at home.”

Muntasir says he “didn’t know how to hold a knife properly” before coming to the college, and that the program prepared him well for industry. He currently works as a cook/chef at Earls Lethbridge and as a food service supervisor for Compass Group at the University of Lethbridge, and he was eager to share his favourite recipe with the readers of Wider Horizons. “The most satisfying aspect of my work is cooking for my customers,” he says. “It really makes me happy when customers love my dishes and give compliments to the host/hostess.”

To enjoy the creations of Lethbridge College chefs, make a reservation at the Garden Court Restaurant by calling 403-320-3230. Bon appétit!

 

INGREDIENTS

FIRST STAGE

1.1 pounds...........................................boneless chicken thighs or 
                                                     breast (bone-in is possible too)

3 tbsp ....................................................................... plain yogurt

1¼ tbsp ............................................................ginger garlic paste

½ to 1 tbsp ............................... garam masala (or biriyani masala)

½ tsp .......................................................................................salt

¼ tsp ................................................................... ground turmeric

½ to 1 tsp ...............................................red chili powder (to taste)

 

SECOND STAGE

2 cups............................................................................basmati rice

 

 

THIRD STAGE

3 tbsp ....................................................................vegetable oil

1 ...................................................................................bay leaf

1 ...................................................................thinly sliced onion

4 ....................................................................green cardamoms

6 ......................................................................................cloves

1 inch .................................................................cinnamon stick

1 ................................................................................ star anise

¾ tsp ............................................................jeera (cumin seeds)

 

LAST STAGES

Handful..........................................................chopped cilantro

Handful....................................................... fried crispy onions

 

METHOD

1. Make a few slits on all the chicken pieces and place them in a large bowl. Then add the marinade ingredients listed in the first stage and mix well. Cover and set aside for at least 45-60 minutes; you can also let it rest overnight in the refrigerator.

2. Rinse basmati rice well (at least three times) and then cook as directed in a rice cooker or pot.

3. Prepare to cook the chicken by heating oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the items listed in the third stage. When the onions are translucent, add the marinated chicken and sauté about five minutes.

4. Lower the heat. Cover the pot and cook until the chicken is soft, tender and completely cooked through. Check doneness by pricking the chicken with a fork or knife. It has to be just cooked and not overdone. Add more salt if needed.

5. Add cilantro to the chicken and get ready to assemble the biryani.

6. Preheat the oven to 350F.

7. In an oven-proof pot or dish, ladle a layer of chicken and gravy (sauce) in the bottom of the pan. Add a layer of rice. Cover with 1 tbsp of cilantro and 1 tbsp of crispy onion. Repeat this layering process at least three or four times.

8. Cover the pot/dish, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes.

9. Before serving, garnish with more fried onions and cilantro.

10. Serve with a large rice paddle, making sure each portion gets chicken from the bottom and rice from the top in layers. Enjoy!

Wider Horizons
Story by Lisa Kozleski | Photos by Rob Olson
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