A classic of Cape Malay cuisine, this gloriously aromatic comfort food consists of chicken, potatoes, spices and herbs cooked with fragrant fluffy rice.
This is a dish sure to bring a nostalgic tear to the eye if you have childhood memories of the scented sizzle of spices drifting from the kitchen on rainy afternoons!
Akhni is similar to a Cape-style breyani or biryani, but it’s simpler: the chicken doesn’t need to be marinated ahead of time, and the ingredients are not layered. You can add frozen (or fresh) peas and carrots to your Akhni if you like, but it’s wonderful just as it is, and especially good served with a contrasting fresh sambal made with tomatoes, onions and chilliies.
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1kg chicken pieces
75ml (5 tbs) butter
15ml (1 tbs) vegetable oil
5ml (1 tsp) cumin seeds
2 pieces cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
10 Robertsons pepper corns
1 large onion, finely chopped
15ml (1 tbs) ginger/garlic paste
10ml (2 tsp)Rajah Mild Masala Curry Powder
1.25ml (¼ tsp) Robertsons Turmeric
10ml (2 tsp) Robertsons Chilli Powder
5ml (1tsp)ground cumin
10ml (2 tsp)ground coriander
7.5ml (1½ tsp) garam masala
2 large tomatoes, skins removed and blended
10ml (2 tsp) tomato paste
1 cup (250ml) uncooked basmati or long-grain rice
3 potatoes, quartered
a handful of fresh coriander
a handful of mint leaves500ml (2 cups) water
2ml salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Pat the chicken pieces dry on kitchen paper and set aside. Peel the potatoes and cut them into four pieces,or smaller if you prefer. Add a few tablespoons of water, cover and steam for 5 minutes in the microwave, or cook them in boiling water on the stove for 10 minutes. Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot. Add the cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves and peppercorns, and fry until fragrant. Now add the onion and fry until golden brown and caramelised.Stir in the ginger/garlic paste and fry for a minute. Add the Rajah Mild Masala Curry Powder, turmeric, chilli powder, cumin, coriander and garam masala, and fry for 2 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces and mix well. Leave the pot uncovered and fry the ingredients for 10 minutes over a low heat. Add a few drops of water if required. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover the pot and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir in the rice, potatoes, coriander and mint. Add 2 cups water (or less, depending on how quickly you think your potatoes will cook). Season to taste with salt. Cover the pot and place it in the oven. Bake for one hour, or until the potatoes and rice are cooked. When cooked, the Akhni should remain a little moist but should not be mushy. Halfway through the cooking time, cut the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter into little cubes and place them in the pot. Serve hot.Let us know if you try this Akhni recipe by reviewing it: https://bit.ly/3sJdyTF