Chicken – I choose drumsticks and thighs, (thigh has the best meat of chicken). Skin removed, and shave off most fat.
Mix all ingredients (except oil) under ‘marinade’ and rub into the chicken, marinate overnight for best results, if not atleast for 4 hours in a fridge, covered.
Chop ginger / garlic / tomatoes / onion finely and store separately.
Clean and cut the coriander leaves.
Wash rice once and soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Drain, keep aside till required.
Step 1 – Frying Chicken
In a non-stick pan, heat half the oil under ‘marinade‘ section, fry half at a time, the chicken pieces, about 6 minutes on each side. Maximum for about 15 minutes, as we want only about 70% done chicken.
Using a slotted spoon, spoon the fried pieces onto a plate spread with kitchen towel, to absorb excess oil.
Step 2 – Preparing the Garnish
While the chicken is getting fried, heat oil under the ‘Garnish‘ section, sauté the cashew nuts for about 2 minutes on low flame, till lightly golden brown on all sides equally.
In the same oil, fry the onions till they are crispy. Add salt while doing this, this helps the onion sweat fast and get crispy.
Keep aside till needed.
Step 3 – Preparing the Gravy
Heat the oil under the ‘Gravy Section‘, sauté the onions along with salt, on medium flame till soft and caramelised (about 15 minutes), while stirring occasionally.
Add ginger and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and sauté till soft and melted, about 15 minutes on medium flame.
Step 4 – Rice
In the cheese cloth, gather all spices under the ‘Rice‘ section and tie it up, this is known as `Potli` in Northern India.
Bring to boil the water along with salt, ghee and polti, lower the flame. Remove the potli.
Tip over the rice, bring it to boil, lower flame and simmer for 10 minutes till about 50% done.
Leave it open, or better still spread on a large serving tray and allow the steam to escape and the rice to cool down, this prevents the rice from further cooking.
Step – 5 Layering and Baking
Make a dough of the flour and water under the ‘dough‘ section, roll into a long strip and apply on the edges of the deep bottomed pan.
Apply 1 tbsp ghee on all sides of the vessel, (use the ghee mentioned in the ‘Garnish‘ section).
Spread a layer of gravy and some chicken pieces. Top it with a layer of rice and spread little ghee, cashew nuts and coriander leaves.
Repeat the above step till you have a last layer of rice, decorate with the remaining, coriander leaves, cashew nuts, fried onions and ghee, evenly across the top.
Secure the lid on the dough. In a pre-heated oven, cook for 30 mins on medium.
Serve hot with a cooling cucumber raita, lime pickle, masala poppadum and sweetened Indian butter milk (aka Lassi).
You could also hard-boil eggs, quarter them and decorate on the rice.
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Srikrupa is a food enthusiast who aims to preserve the culinary tradition of India through her interesting blog.