Biryani is a rice-based dish cooked with a whole mess of different spices, and usually, though not always, some kind of meat. When that meat is lamb or beef, it consequently takes some time to cook, which means I don't get to write about this dish too often. But this recipe from Madhur Jaffrey's At Home with Madhur Jaffrey solves that problem by using shrimp, so that this dish can be whipped up in less than hour with absolutely no shortcuts.
Not that any of the flavor is left behind. Shrimp are rubbed with a spice blend of cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and pepper, before being sautéed and then removed. The rice then cooks in the same oil, so it picks up the spices and the shrimp flavor. Only at the very end are the rice and the shrimp mixed together, so that the shrimp stay plump and juicy.
Adapted from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined, halved crossways
- 3 medium garlic cloves, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and black pepper
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 2/3 cups low-sodium store bought or homemade chicken stock
- 4 cardamom pods
Toss rice into a mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the liquid that comes off the rice is clear. Transfer to a large bowl and cover with water. Set aside for 30 minutes. When done, drain the rice.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the shrimp with the garlic, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, 1/3 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Toss well. Set bowl aside for 3 minutes.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently until they are nearly opaque, two to three minutes. Turn off the heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and place in a medium-sized bowl with the lemon juice and cilantro. Mix well.
Pour the chicken stock into the pan and add the cardamom seeds. Turn the heat to high. Use a wooden spoon to dislodge any brown bits on the pan. When the liquid comes to a boil, add the rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir well, and then cover the pan tightly, reduce the heat to very low, and cook for 25 minutes.
Turn off the heat. Remove the lid of the pan, and add the shrimp and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Cover and set aside for a minute. Then stir the mixture gently, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve in bowls.