Welcome to the fourth entry in my Remembering India series, where I share recipes, meals and adventures from my 2008 studies abroad. Today I share my recipe for chicken biryani, inspired by an unforgettable meal I ate on an overnight train from Mumbai to Goa.
You can find the story about this meal in the third installment of this series.
For 8 years I’ve been dreaming of a single serving of chicken biryani. I ate it from a tin on an overnight train—a setting I least expected for one of the best meals of my life.
Since that meal, I’ve eaten a lot of biryanis, hoping that I could relive those bites from the Konkan Kanya Express. Nothing has ever come close, so I’ve spent the last 6 months re-creating it at home.
Biryani is a special rice dish whose ingredients vary from region to region and family to family. There are lamb, chicken, vegetable and even fish biryanis—each one a distinct representation of the person in charge of making it. As someone from an Italian family, I have come to understand biryani the way I think about tomato sauce. Every cook has their own recipe, and they’re probably going to prefer the one they grew up eating.
Since I didn’t grow up eating biryani, my source of inspiration was this single dish from 8 years ago. I remembered that it was red-ish, juicy and unmixed—with bone-in chicken and flavorful white rice. As for the spices, I’d only recognize them by taste….