For Saffron rice
Basmati rice -- 2 cups
Water -- 3 1/2 cups
Saffron threads, soaked in a little milk -- a big pinch
Salt -- to taste
Cinnamon sticks -- 3 or 4
Cardamom pods -- 8
Whole cloves -- 5 or 6
Bay leaves -- 3
Paprika -- 1 tablespoon
Coriander -- 1 tablespoon
Turmeric -- 2 teaspoons
Ground cumin -- 2 teaspoon
For the Chicken curry
Oil or ghee -- 1/4 cup
Chicken pieces -- 1 kilogram ( washed and cleaned)
Onions, thinly sliced -- 2
Fresh ginger, peeled and minced -- 3 tablespoons
Garlic, minced -- 5 or 6 cloves
Whole-fat yogurt -- 1 1/2 cups
Water -- 1 cup
Green chili peppers, slit -- 2 or 3
Salt and pepper -- to season
Prunes, chopped -- 6 to 8
Tomatoes, seeded and chopped -- 2
Cilantro, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
Mint, chopped -- 1/2 bunch
For the garnish
Golden raisin - 1/3 cup
Almond pieces - 1/3 cup
Fried onions - 1/2 cup
1. Wash the rice well and soak for about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or pot over medium flame. Add the whole curry spices and dry roast them, tossing now and then, until they begin to release their aroma. Stir in the ground curry spices, then remove everything to a small bowl. Take care not to burn the spices.
3. In a large pot or wok, heat the oil or ghee over medium-high flame. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
4. Add more oil or ghee if needed, then add the onions and saute until they turn translucent and begin to brown. Add the ginger and garlic and saute 1 or 2 minutes more.
5. Return the chicken pieces to the pot, and stir in the toasted spices, yogurt, water, whole green chilies and salt and pepper to season. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the chicken pieces is cooked through and tender.
6. While the curry is simmering, drain the basmati and put it in a medium saucepan. Add the water, the saffron with its milk and a big pinch of salt. You can also add a cinnamon stick and a couple of cardamom pods if you like. Bring to a boil over medium-high flame, then reduce heat to low, cover tightly, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to rest, covered.
7. Meanwhile stir the prunes, half the chopped herbs and half the chopped tomatoes into the curry. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and simmer for another 10 minutes.
8. Spread half of the saffron rice in a large, warm serving dish or platter. Top the rice with the meat curry. Spread the remaining rice over the curry. At this point, the dish can be covered with foil and held warm until serving.
Garnish with the remaining herbs, raisins, almonds and fried onions. Serve along with raita.