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Classic chicken breyani

The festive season means more family get-togethers and home-made delights! What better way to spend some quality time together than sitting down with this Cape Malay favourite, the classic chicken breyani?

SERVES 8-10 // COOKING TIME 3 hours 20 min

For the chicken
1 cup plain yoghurt
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp grated ginger
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
Salt and black pepper
1 kg chicken pieces
2 tbsp vegetable oil
For the rice
1 cup brown lentils
2 cups basmati rice
1 tbsp vegetable oil
12 cloves
10 cardamom pods, crushed
4 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
For the onions
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 red chillies, sliced

For the chicken
1. Mix the yoghurt, lemon juice and spices. Pour the mixture over the chicken, rolling the pieces to ensure each one is fully coated.
2. Cover the dish and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
3. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the chicken, along with all the marinade. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until tender.
For the rice
1. Cook the lentils until tender, 30–40 minutes. Drain.
2. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then soak in cold water for 20 minutes. Drain.
3. Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the cloves and cardamom for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
4. Add the rice, 2½ cups water, the bay leaves and the salt. Cook for 12–15 minutes, until all the water has evaporated and the rice is tender.
5. Stir in the lentils.
For the onions
1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Fry the onions until brown.
2. Add a splash of water to prevent burning. Then add the chillies and fry for 2 minutes.
For the breyani
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Set out a 20 × 30 cm ovenproof dish with lid.
2. Layer ½ the rice in the bottom of the dish. Follow this with ½ the onions and all of the chicken and sauce. Add the remaining rice and top with the remaining onions.
3. Cover with the lid and bake for 15 minutes. Do not open.
4. Serve with fresh coriander and raita.

Recipe & styling: Jana du Plessis
Photography: Samantha Pinto//

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