Menu 22: Chicken Biryani and Pear, Mascarpone and Hazelnut Tart

It seems that Cynthia and Sam must love their rice.  For the second week in a row, we have another rice dish in our menu line up.  This time from one of my favorite places,  India.  Then we have a nice and fruity, rich tart with a nutty topping.  Another great meal, if you ask me, to invite some friends over and have lots of wine.

  • Chicken Biryani - page 305
  • Pear, Mascarpone, and Hazelnut Tart - page 482

Just like last weeks risotto is known as the quintessential Italian dish, Chicken Biryani is by far the most popular Indian recipe around the globe.  Since this will be the first time I cook this, I was heavy on the internet research and found a couple of “secrets” for making a perfect Biryani.

Use only good quality basmati rice.  And apparently the key to making a good biryani lies in the way the rice is par boil.  Apparently the trick is too never over cook the rice.  It is also recommended to try to use all the ingredients, specially the spices, since they are a major element in the contribution of the final flavor of the dish. The onions have to be deep fried to a light brown color (this are called “barista”). Desi ghee (clarified butter) is also very essential. 

Looking at the recipe from The Kitchen Bible, clarified butter is not being used and the technique of cooking the onions to a light crispy brown color is also not noted.  But, I think I’m going to give them a try, since I have used Desi Ghee before and any clarified butter in a dish is a “very good thing”… also I like the idea of the onions being really brown and crispy, it should add a great texture to the final dish.  I would try to do a bit of research, since there are so many variations out there and it may give you a different take on the dish.

Then to balance all the spiciness of the Biryani, our Gutsy hosts choose the Pear, Mascarpone, and Hazelnut tart as a desert component.

I been skipping the desserts of late, and if most of you been reading Sweetbites for a while, know my aversion for cooking fruit in desserts.  But, this recipe has everything that I love to eat by itself – pears, the recipe calls to use canned, I’m going to totally go the deep end and I’m going to go for broke and use fresh and poach mine! Using either David Lebovitz poaching recipe, or Elise from Simply Recipes using Marsala which I truly believe will set off the creamy mascarpone, which I have a deep love for.  Finally, don’t get me started on the hazelnuts; they are my favorite nuts besides pistachios and almonds. Now put all of that together and I’m sure this will be a winner.

Ready to see?  Let’s get cooking gang!