Indian Barbecued Chicken and Lamb Biryani

Posted By Stephen

We decided to plan ahead for Saturday and do something a little more elaborate than a mid-week meal.  And while we were keen to involve the barbecue, we didn’t want that to be the sole focus of it in case it rained.


So first up was barbecued chicken legs, which at a push we could haave grilled in our oven if it started raining heavily.  We followed a general chicken tikka style recipe, except we used whole pieces of chicken rather than pieces on a skewer.  Having planned ahead a lot more than we usually do, we had the chicken and marinade ready the night before and let the chicken sit in it overnight.  We skinned the chicken and cut a few slashes into each piece to allow the marinade to penetrate more deeply.  The marinade contained the following, which we simply mixed together and it made about the right amount for two drumsticks and two thighs.

1/4 cup yoghurt
juice of 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cardamom pods, ground
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp turmeric

When it came to cooking the chicken, we cooked it on the barbecue with the lid on, for 20 to 30 minutes, turning it a couple of times during cooking.  This was really delicious.  The chicken had taken on the flavours of the marinade very well – there is a lot to be said for planning ahead and marinating it overnight!  The outside of the chicken tasted slightly sweet, almost fruity, it must have been the work of the yoghurt and lemon juice.  Having the barbecue char-grilled flavour added a lot to it, giving it a tandoori-like taste – a lot better than doing it under an electric grill – thank you rain for staying away!


We tried cooking naan bread on the barbecue too, but it didn’t turn out very well.  We suspected it wouldn’t be great because the dough hadn’t risen much.  We ended up with what were essentially two large naan crisps.  Tasty, but not quite what we were after obviously.  We followed Anjum Anand’s recipe, which is supposedly easy but suspiciously contained neither yeast nor yoghurt, which would cast doubts on its authenticity if nothing else.

We followed this with a Hyderabadi lamb biryani.  Having gone on about how well prepared we were, we actually did miss out the fact that we should have marinated the lamb pieces for about two hours before cooking them, so they only got half an hour.  The basic method is to parboil some basmati rice and marinade the lamb in yoghurt and spices, then layer the rice and lamb into a pot with deep fried onions (yum!) and flaked almonds (not sure how authentic these are but we had them lying around so put them in), pour on some saffron-infused milk and some melted butter (or ghee) and a little of the rice cooking water, then cover with a tight-fitting lid and bake in the oven for 45 minutes.  The aroma when lifting the lid after cooking is wonderful.


We were a bit disappointed in the flavour of this dish after the brilliance of the chicken.  However, I think we were being a bit hasty in our initial judgment – it had a milder flavour than the chicken had but it did have its own complexity to it.  It didn’t help that I’d been a bit heavy handed with both the cardamom and the saffron, which gave it something of a mouth-drying quality.  Somehow I can never get saffron right – it looks like so little when it goes in, but it’s really easy to overdo it.  Or at least I find it really easy to overdo it.  Maybe others don’t.  Maybe I should concentrate on learning from my mistakes rather than moaning about it.

One particularly good thing about the biryani was how well it went with the Alsace gewurtztramminer that we were drinking.  We tried some with Thai curry recently but that curry was too hot to match with wine.  As a standalone wine, this one didn’t seem as interesting an example as the previous one (this one was Sainsbury’s “Taste the Difference” label), but it did have typical rose petal and fruity lychee aromas, round texture and a dash of residual sweetness which were a perfect match for the mild spices and butteriness of the biryani.

Jun 21st, 2009

9 Comments to 'Indian Barbecued Chicken and Lamb Biryani'

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  1. Happy Cook said,

    I do wish i was htere for the meal there.
    Looks so so delcious.

  2. Jules said,

    Looks delicious. I’m yet to masted Naan bread, nothing beats the naan bread from the local indian. I think the key is a super hot tandoor oven.

  3. Lizzie said,

    Why did you skin the chicken, are you guys on a health kick? It’s naughty, but oh-so-nice…
    .-= Lizzie´s last blog ..A Cream Tea =-.

  4. Stephen said,

    Jules, I think next time we should still try to make naan but just order a couple of take-aways too on the assumption that ours isn’t going to work out!

    Lizzie, often we try to be on at least a semi-health kick but this time we felt it would allow the marinade to flavour the meat better – the recipe that we were following was for cubes of chicken breast which wouldn’t have had skin on them. And as delicious as chicken skin is, it often ends up burning on the barbecue.

  5. goodshoeday said,

    Shame to naan recipe didn’t work well. Back up plan clearly a good idea but the search for good naan must continue – although not authentic there must be a recipe out there that can get close in a domestic oven??
    Chicken looks good and as I love biyriani might have to give that a go.

  6. You two are the BBQ king and queen – perhaps this site should be renamed BBQ diary! You are just making all those without BBQs very jealous
    .-= Gourmet Chick´s last blog ..Market Thai =-.

  7. Ted said,

    I remember watching Heston make nan on his ‘in search of perfection’ show. You can find the recipe here:

    It seems pretty simple but his method of using two pizza stones at right angles to each other is the usual complexity you come to expect from him.

    Would love to try except I don’t have a square pizza stone and I think it would be difficult with a round one!
    .-= Ted´s last blog ..Pork and Chorizo Burgers =-.

  8. Stephen said,

    Ted, that looks interesting and we only have one round pizza stone rather than two square ones, but I think we can make it work. Coincidentally we’re planning to cook this chicken again today and will attempt to make naan bread again, so we may have some good news later!

    I remember watching Heston make an approximation of a tandoori oven building piling a funnel of bricks onto his barbecue; I’m keen to try that too at some point.

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