Christmas Leftovers

Christmas time is usually not a very busy time for us. But this year was different. We bought a house and moved in to this house the same week that led to Christmas. So ho ho ho…was it tiring and busy or what!

Surprisingly enough, we managed to make the house presentable and the guest rooms ready as this Christmas was to mark our very first Christmas hosted by us at our own house.

Christmas was busy, I cooked Turkey (a giant one), that fed about 8 grown ups and will feed the four of us for the next two weeks.

Although it is a joyous time and one looks forward to having family over, cook massive meals, smell the wine mulling away and exchange presents ofcourse; it is also very nice to have your house back to yourself after Boxing day.

The house can be a bit quiet, but somehow being able to wake up without worrying about the guests who might have woken up first, the elderly ones who probably need some tea, basically the conundrums of being a good host. Being back to the sloppy home-maker and a lazy git is freedom!

One other thing about post Christmas time is cooking the leftovers. Today’s post is about one of those left-over cooking recipes.

This morning when I took the dog out for a walk, one of my dog walking friends who also happens to be a chef said that he is going home to cook some Biryani. And that inspired me to cook biryani with the leftover turkey and some chicken that I had in the freezer.

Biryani is a wholesome meal, served best with cold yoghurt. Traditional biryani takes ages to cook and is to e honest hardwork. But my recipe is quick but not quick enough to be called a cheat. It still can claim respect and love that most mum’s hour long Biryani calls for.


Here’s the recipe…


2 medium chicken breast (or leftover turkey)

3 onions, sliced and browned

1 onion sliced

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

2 whole green or red chillies

2 medium tomatoes

100 grams of yoghurt

1 ½ tsp turmeric

¾ tsp chillie powder (or to taste)

Fresh mint leaves and coriander

1 tsp Sugar

Salt to taste

One stick of cinnamon

4 cloves

4 cardomans pods

2 bay leaves

1 star anise

2 tsp cumin seeds (preferably caraway seeds)

1 tsp garam masala

oil or preferably ghee

1 ½ cups of cooked rice (cook and set it aside)

Rose water (optional)

1 lemon


Heat oil and butter or some ghee in a pan, sauté cloves, cinnamon, cardomans, bay leaves, star anise, cumin seeds for half a minute. Add onions, chillies and fry till translucent but not browned. Then add the chicken/ turkey and ginger garlic paste.  Fry it until it loses the pungent smell of the ginger garlic paste. Then add turmeric and chilli powder along with sugar and salt. Then add tomatoes followed by yoghurt. Now make sure that the heat is on high when adding yoghurt to prevent it from breaking.  I also added some dried mint leaves as I didn’t get to the supermarket on time to get some fresh ones.

Now cook away until tomatoes melt completely and the meat is cooked. There should be enough gravy, but if you are worried add some stock. In my case, I simple ladled some Turkey stock that was bubbling away on the next stove top.

Once cooked add some garam masala and juice of a whole lemon. I say 1 tsp but all the spices are honestly to taste. Some like it hot some like it mild. If it is too hot, increase the amount of yoghurt – simple!

Now the last step is my favourite. Spread the cooked rice in a big flat plate or pan or even baking tray (like me). Then pour the chicken base we cooked on top. Fork  it a bit until it is mixed. Don’t mix it too well leave some whiteness visible! Then I added a few (more than a few actually) drops of rose water everywhere, then sprinkled the browned onions all over and garnished it with some coriander (or parsley).

And voila…..home-made biryani is ready to warm you up in a cold winters evening, serve it with some yoghurt (slice some cucumber in the yoghurt).


My cheat is that I didn’t really layer up my biryani. Traditionally, one would divide the rice into parts and add different colourings to it.

Then in a big pot layer up white rice, followed by the gravy, oions, mint leaves, rose water, saffron, some coloured rice and repeat. There are usually about 3 to 4 layers and then cooked for another 10 minutes (bear in mind that the rice in this case is only ¾cooked.  They fork it after cooking it and when served once can see these amazing colours and smell the richness of spices, rose water and saffron.

If you have the time, add all the above. It definitely makes a difference, but a quick fix is enough to make your appetite feel well-looked after.


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