Do­mes­tic dilem­mas

Don’t be daunted by that diva de­meanour – Fri­day’s very own chef Sil­vena Rowe is happy to an­swer all your culi­nary queries

Friday - - Society - ● Do you have a ques­tion for Sil­vena? Email her at Fri­ Please write ‘Do­mes­tic Diva’ in the sub­ject line of your email.

My fam­ily loves eat­ing biryani. But I just can’t seem to get it right and al­ways end up over­cook­ing the rice. How can I get it to be as fluffy as they serve in restau­rants?

It is im­por­tant to choose the right kind of rice for biryani. Choose bas­mati rice that has been aged as it has less starch. This is why most well-known brands are ex­pen­sive when com­pared with reg­u­lar rice as it has been aged well to give the best re­sults.

Rinse the rice then soak it in room tem­per­a­ture wa­ter for 30 min­utes be­fore you start cook­ing. This helps to get rid of ex­cess starch and will pre­vent the grains from stick­ing to­gether as they cook.

Now par­boil the rice. To do so, place wa­ter in a large pan, add salt and bring to a boil. Drain the rice from its soak­ing wa­ter and add to the boil­ing wa­ter. The rice to wa­ter ra­tio should be one to five, that is one cup of rice to five cups of wa­ter. It seems like too much wa­ter but it’s es­sen­tial for good re­sults.

Let the wa­ter boil again and then re­duce the heat to a sim­mer. Cook the rice un­til it’s al dente – it’s still opaque to look at and has a bite to it.

At this point, drain the rice com­pletely and rinse it gen­tly un­der run­ning wa­ter to stop the cook­ing process. Drain it well and spread it in a thin layer on a tray so it cools quickly. Next, in a large pan, layer the rice with meat, fish or veg­eta­bles, de­pend­ing on the kind of biryani you are mak­ing. Seal the pan well so that the steam from the cook­ing process does not es­cape.

Heat a heavy-bot­tomed fry­ing pan and place the sealed pan over it. Let the biryani cook for the time spec­i­fied by the recipe you’re fol­low­ing.

Do not open the pan dur­ing this process and you’ll have rice grains that are fluffy and sep­a­rate.

Please give me an easy recipe for chicken soup.

Chicken soup is my favourite com­fort food. Here’s an easy, no-fuss recipe:

Boil a whole chicken in five to six cups of wa­ter along with two to three car­rots cut into large chunks, two cel­ery sticks also cut into large chunks, two onions that have been quar­tered, and salt. I like to also add a few slightly crushed pep­per­corns, a cin­na­mon stick and a few cloves for ex­tra flavour.

Let the chicken boil for about 30 min­utes, skim­ming off any ffoam that ap­pears on the sur­face, oor un­til the chicken is com­pletely ccooked and you’re left with stock that is golden in colour. Care­fully re­move the chicken from the stock and let it cool so you can shred it. Strain the stock and dis­card the veg­eta­bles and spices. Heat the stock and add the shred­ded meat.

If you like veg­eta­bles in your soup, add thinly sliced car­rots, cel­ery and onions to the stock, let them cook then add the shred­ded chicken.

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