TURKEY BIRYANI (for six)
2 turkey legs, about 3-1/2 pounds (or 1-1/2 pounds leftover roast turkey meat, preferably leg and wing)
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne
2 cups best-quality basmati rice
6 tablespoons ghee. clarified butter or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 cups turkey or chicken broth
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
6 cardamom pods
one 2-inch stock cinnamon
½ cup golden raisins
1 cup raw cashews
4 hard-cooked eggs, shelled (optional)
½ cup roughly chopped cilantro, leaves and tender stems
yogurt sauce to accompany (recipe follows)
1. Season turkey legs with salt and roast for 45 minutes at 375*. Let cool, remove skin and bones, then chop meat into rough 1 inch pieces. (If using leftover turkey, simply chop the cooked meat).
2. In a mixing bowl, combine yogurt, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric and cayenne plus 1 teaspoon salt. Add the turkey meat, mix well, and let marinate in mixture for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, wash and rinse the rice with cold water until the water runs clear. Soak the rice in cold water for 20 minutes then drain in a colander.
4. Melt 4 tablespoons ghee over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy-bottomed, ovenproof, Dutch oven. In batches, fry the onions until crisp and brown, about 5 to 7 minutes per batch. Drain on paper towels and salt lightly. Return half the onions to the pot and reserve the other half.
5. When the onions begin to sizzle, add the turkey mixture, stirring well to coat and let fry lightly for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to combine, then add 1 cup broth and bring to a simmer. Cook 2 minutes, then add 2 cups broth and bring to a gentle boil. Taste broth; it should be well salted and highly seasoned. Add the peppercorns, cloves, cardamom and cinnamon.
6. Heat oven to 375*. Add the drained rice to the pot and stir. Adjust the heat to a brisk simmer and cook, uncovered, for eight minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the surface of the rice looks dry. Top with reserved fried onions. Cover tightly and bake for 20 minutes. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. (The biryani may be cooked to this point several hours ahead and reheated.)
7. In a small skillet, melt 2 tablespoons ghee over medium-high heat. When ghee is hot, add raisins and lightly fry for about 1 minute, until heated through and puffed a bit. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a small bowl. In the remaining ghee fry cashews until barely golden, about 2 minutes. Remove and combine with raisins. Sprinkle with salt.
8. Pile biryani on a large platter. Top with raisins and cashews. Garnish with hard cooked eggs if desired and shower with cilantro. Serve with yogurt sauce.
YOGURT SAUCE (about 1-1/2 cups)
1-1/2 cups medium-thick plain yogurt
½ teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon roughly chopped mint leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped green serrano or jalapeno chile
salt and pepper
1. In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt, ginger, mint, chile and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the flavors meld at least 5 minutes. (May be prepared several hours ahead.) Serve chilled.
from David Tanis, printed in the New York Times