This one pot meal is fit for a celebration! It is a guaranteed stunner for any party. It might look like a lot of work, but once you've done the prep, it really comes down to a simple dish. Serve with a raita and salad and you have yourself an easy meal.
4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
6 garlic cloves
1 - 3”piece fresh ginger
5 medium onions
10 black peppercorns
5 cardamom pods
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
¼ cup lime juice
2 cups yogurt
½ cup vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
4 large whole black cardamom pods
2 teaspoons saffron threads
¼ cup milk milk, warmed
3 cups Basmati rice
For marinade : Peel and coarsely chop the garlic, ginger, and 3 onions. Place in a blender with the cloves, peppercorns, green cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, poppy seeds, mace, 1 teaspoon salt, and the lemon juice. Blend to a smooth paste. Turn into a large bowl, add the yogurt, and mix well. Add the chicken thighs to it. Let marinade for a few hours to overnight.
Peel the 2 remaining onions, halved lengthwise, and sliced fine. Heat the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add the bay leaves and cardamom pods. Fry for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the sliced onions and fry, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until brown and crisp, but not burned. Remove with a slotted spoon, squeezing out as much oil as possible. Reserve the oil, cardamoms, and bay leaves. Drain the onions on paper towels and set aside.
Transfer the chicken and marinade to a large dutch oven or pot. Bring slowly to a boil, cover, lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Lift out the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and set aside. Boil the marinade paste, stirring, over a medium heat, until reduced to about 1 cup of liquid. Add chicken back to pot and arrange in a single layer. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Crumble the saffron into the warm milk and set aside to soak.
Pour about 4 quarts water into a large cooking pot or flameproof casserole. Add 3 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Add the washed rice, bring back to a boil, then simmer for precisely 5 minutes. Drain the rice in a colander, then place it on top of the chicken in the casserole.
Pour the saffron-infused milk over the rice, streaking it with orange lines. Sprinkle the reserved cardamom, bay leaves, and oil over the rice (retaining 1 tablespoon oil, for frying the raisins, if using). Sprinkle the fried onions as well. Cover the casserole dish with foil, cut 2 inches wider than the rim of the dish. Now put the lid on and use the protruding foil edges to seal the dish as best you can by crinkling it and pushing it against the sides. Bake in the oven for 1 hour.
Uncover rice. Gently fluff. Serve hot.