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Chicken Biryani

6 onions, medium sized
4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 piece ginger, 2 inches long, peeled and chopped
10 cloves, whole
20 peppercorns, black, whole
seeds from 8 whole cardamom pods
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp coriander, ground
1 tsp cumin ground
1 tsp poppy seeds, whole
1/4 tsp mace, ground
4 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp lemon juice
8 oz plain yogurt
8 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
4 cardamoms, large, black (if available)
2 lb chicken legs and breasts
2 tsp leaf saffron, roasted and crumbled
2 Tbsp milk
2 cup long-grain rice

2 Tbsp golden raisins, fried
2 Tbsp blanched almonds
2 eggs, hard-boiled, sliced or quartered

Peel and coarsely chop 3 of the onions. Place chopped onion,
garlic, and ginger in an electric blender, along with the cloves,
peppercorns, the seeds only from the 8 cardamoms, cinnamon, coriander,
cumin, poppy seeds, mace, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the lemon juice.
Blend all of these at high speed until you have a smooth paste.
Place this paste in a large bowl. Add the yogurt and mix well.

Now peel the 3 remaining onions. Slice them into very fine rings,
and halve all the rings.

In a 10-inch heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over medium flame.
When hot, add the bay leaves and 4 black cardamoms. Fry for about
10 to 15 seconds. Now put in the onions and fry them, stirring,
for about 10 minutes or until they get brown and crisp (but not
burned). Remove them carefully with a slotted spoon, squeezing
out as much of the oil as possible. Reserve all the onion-flavored
oil, the black cardamoms, and the bay leaves. You will need them
later. Mix in two-thirds of the fried onions with the marinade
paste. Place the rest on a paper towel to drain. Set aside for
garnishing. Remove skin from the chicken legs and breasts. Cut
the legs into two pieces each (drumstick and thigh), and quarter
all the breasts. Pierce the chicken pieces with a fork and place
in the bowl with the marinade paste. Mix well. Cover the bowl
and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Turn occasionally.

After 2 hours (or more), remove the bowl from the refrigerator and
place all its contents in a 3-4-quart heavy-bottomed pot. Bring
slowly to a boil, cover, lower heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove only the chicken pieces, place them in a 5-quart casserole
dish, and cover. Set aside. On a medium flame, boil down the
marinade paste, stirring, until you have about 9 to 10 tablespoons
left. Spoon the paste over the chicken. Cover again.

Preheat oven to 300 F.

Soak the saffron in 2 tablespoons hot (not boiling) milk. Bring
about 13 cups water with 3 teaspoons of salt to a boil in a 4-quart
pot, then add the rice. After it has come to a boil again, cook
5 minutes, timing very carefully (the rice must not cook through).
Drain the rice in a colander, then place it on top of the chicken
in the casserole. Pour the saffron milk over the rice, streaking
it with orange lines. Spoon out the onion-flavored oil from the
pan, reserving a level tablespoon to fry the raisins if you like.
Sprinkle the oil, cardamom, and bay leaves over the rice. Cover
the casserole dish with aluminum foil, cut 2 inches wider than the
rim of the dish. Now put the lid on and use the protuding foil
edges to seal the dish as best you can by crinkling it and pushing
it against the sides. Bake 1 hour.

Garnishes: There are several garnishes that can ber used for biryani;
you can use them all, or only what you like, but the fried onions
are a must. If you wish to use raisins, you can fry them in a
tablespoon of the onion-flavored oil just after you have fried the
onions.

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