Shrimp (or Chicken) Biryani – Prepared Easy Style

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Shrimp Biryani

Simply Asia makes an Indian Essentials Spice Packet called: Chicken Biryani.  Being a big fan of Biryani, often eaten at our local India restuarant I was up to the challenge of testing a quick and easy way to make Biryani vs a more complicated recipe that involved no short-cuts.  (The long method will be posted later this week and was also equally successful).  The dish was easy to make.  The skillet did take a little effort to clean but overall clean up is reasonable for the quality of the dish.   We had zero left-overs for three people, one of who is under 5 and one of whom is a hungry man.  So I suggest doubling the recipe if your crowd is large or if you want any leftovers.  The serving amount on the packet notes 6.  Given we had no sides, our portions were on the larger size.

This dish looks and tastes great.  The dish does have some nice, yet mild heat.  The spices noted in the packet are chili peppers, turmeric, red pepper paprika, and salt.  The packet also lists sugar but that was not detectable  and the packet itself only lists 15 calories so it cannot be too much.  Sodium is listed as 440mg (18% of daily value) which is not too bad for a prepared packet like this.

Ingredients:

3/4th cup of plain vanilla yogurt

1 package of Simply Asian Chicken Biryani -see photo

2 tbsp. oil (I used olive oil)

1 medium onion thinly sliced

1 pound of uncooked shrimp (shelled and deveined)  – Packet calls for 1 pound of chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes.  Thighs would likely taste fine too.

1 medium tomato, chopped

3 cups of water combined with 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth (original recipe calls for all water)

1 cup of white basmati rice (I used brown which did complicate the recipe some given a longer cooking time) – Read directions carefully before starting recipe if using brown rice.  Otherwise you will waste time waiting for your rice!

1/4 cup sliced almonds (original recipe calls for cashew halves)

1/4 cup raisins

2 TBSP butter, melted (microwave 40 seconds)

Directions (Prep Time 15 minutes, Cook Time around 35 minutes white rice, 45 minutes plus if brown Biryani rice

  1. If using brown biryani, rinse with water mixing up the rice with a spin over a strainer prior to prepping your ingredients.  This will help cook the rice faster.
  2. Mix yogurt and seasoning mix, set aside
  3. Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat
  4. Add onion to skillet, cook and stir for 3 minutes
  5. If using brown biryani and directions note cooking time for 40 minutes, begin prepping your brown rice now; otherwise skip to step 6 now .  Bring water/chicken stock to a boil in medium saucepan on medium high heat.  Add rinsed rice.  Stir.  Once the water begins to boil, cook your brown rice for 20 minutes uncovered on medium heat (vs medium high).  Drain rice in strainer, discarding liquid.
  6. Stir into skillet, prepped chicken (if using chicken), tomato and yogurt mixture.  If using shrimp see step 7 for adding shrimp which takes less time to cook.
  7. Bring skillet to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; (if using shrimp add now); cover skillet and simmer for 10 minutes
  8. If using white biryani, while covered skillet is simmering in step 7 above, begin to bring water/chicken stock to a boil in medium saucepan on medium high heat.  Add rice.  Stir.  Once the water begins to boil cook your white rice for 5 minutes uncovered on medium high heat.  Drain rice in strainer, discarding liquid.
  9. Spoon rice on top of shrimp (or chicken) mixture.  Sprinkle with nut choice above and raisins.   Drizzle with melted butter.
  10. Cover with tight fitting lid.  Cook on low heat 15-20 minutes if white rice – although cook further if rice is not ready.  Add a little bit of water if necessary to cook rice longer.  If using brown rice cook on low heat 25-30 minutes  although cook further if rice is not ready.  Add a little bit of water if necessary to cook rice longer.
  11. Let stand at least five minutes off heat covered before serving.

Prepped ingredients below

 

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Yogurt mixed with spice packet

 

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Uncooked slice onions

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Browned onions

 

 

 

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After shrimp added

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Drained cooked rice

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Just before covering skillet

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Adding in rice, nuts, raisins

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Quick stir

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Final dish

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Indian Shrimp with Coconut Dipping Sauce over a Bed of Quinoa

Finished Dish: Shrimp with Coconut Dipping Sauce over Quinoa

Shrimp with Coconut Sauce over Quinoa

The recipe comes from Modern Spice by Monica Bhide.  Her inspiration for the recipe per her cookbook is from Chef Jose Andres from Washington DC who owns a few restaurants in DC.  It is very easy to make and tastes and smells wonderful.  I added the quinoa, removed the shrimp tails and served over quinoa versus the recipe presented in Bhide’s book.  It is incredibly tasty and not a typical India heavy dish.

This recipe makes enough for 4 small appetizer servings or 2 dinner dishes.  To bulk up the counts increase your shrimp count.  If you multi-task the quinoa, shrimp, and sauce well, this dish can be completed in well under an hour easily and cleanup is painless.  You can use the same large pot to cook the tomatoes, the shrimp, and the sauce.  You only need one cutting board.

Ingredients Coconut Sauce and Shrimp

1 small red onion minced

2 small tomatoes pureed * instructions below

1 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin (her recipe called for 1 teaspoon of the actual seeds which I don’t stock in my pantry)

1 teaspoon red chili powder (or less if you prefer less spicy)

1 inch piece fresh ginger peeled and minced (go fresh if you can versus ground ginger spice)

1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce

Pinch of sea salt

Cooked 1 pound of nice sized shrimp **

* Puree tomatoes – WikiHow has great instructions on how to do the puree.  I left the seeds and juices in. I stopped after Wiki step 8 because I was just needed simple tomato puree.  You can reuse the pot from the tomato puree step for the recipe later.
Before Puree

After Puree

After a few pulses (above)

http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Tomato-Puree

** For cooking the shrimp, I keep it pretty simple because I want the sauce to be the flavor of the shrimp.

Remove shells, tails, and devein the shrimp (dark brown or black vein) with a sharp knife.

Rinse what you just prepped in cold water and drain.

Fill pot with enough water to cook shrimp; then boil the water on high heat.

Add shrimp and push under water initially, allow the shrimp to cook 1-2 minutes until you see small bubbles to break the surface of the water.  Stop at that point and remove pot from heat.  Shrimp cook quick and should start to have a nice pink tinge (you will need to peak at a shrimp because the water will be murky).  Cover the pot and let the shrimp cook in the hot water off the heat for about 5-10 minutes depending on the size of shrimp.  They will now fully have that nice pink color you are looking for.  Don’t overcook.  Drain the shrimp and set aside.

Prepped Shrimp

Shrimp ready to go off heat

Cooked after staying in warm pot 7 1/2 minutes.

Above 3 shrimp photos – prepped, in the pot on heat with bubbles surfacing, fully cooked

Directions for Coconut Sauce

1) Combine the onion, tomatoes, coconut milk, cumin, chili powder, ginger, pinch of salt, and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl and mix well.  Add more salt after tasting if desired.

Uncooked Sauce

2) Pour mixture into a large pot and bring to a boil over medium heat.    Begin to prepare your Quinoa ***

Cooked Down Sauce

3) Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

4) Remove from heat and allow to cool at room temperature

5) Process in a blender until smooth – can serve sauce cold or warmed

Blender Pre Blend

Sauce After Blending

After blending thoroughly (immediately above)

*** Preparing Quinoa –  I admit I am spoiled here and use my Zojirushi rice cooker which makes it perfectly with little fuss in less than a half hour.  Rinse one cup of quinoa over a fine mesh strainer and once drained place in rice cooker pot.  Add 2 cups of either water, vege stock, or chicken stock (my preference), add a pinch of sea salt, set on the quick start and wait for it to be done.   As for stove top methods there are tons of options online or follow the instructions on your Quinoa container.   Again for this recipe I keep the quinoa flavor simple because I am counting on the coconut sauce to flavor the shrimp and quinoa.  

Cooked Quinoa

Serve

Layer a plate with quinoa bottom, add shrimp portion, and pour over some sauce.
Shrimp with Coconut Sauce over Quinoa