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