Chicken Casserole, 2015 Edition

February 14, 2015 | Posted by Stephanie Banyas

Chicken and rice is pure comfort food. I think just about every culture has a version of chicken and rice that they call their own. Consider the magnificent versions: paella, from Spain, arroz con pollo from Latin America, clay pot chicken and rice from China…the countries and versions are endless. New York City even has its very own version.

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As Oprah might say, “what I know for sure” is: I have never met a version of chicken and rice that I didn’t love. Except, that is, that version from the good old USA that is served in a casserole dish swimming in “cream” sauce from a red and white can, with overcooked white rice and a few carrots and peas thrown in for good measure. One person’s comfort is another person’s misery.

I decided to try to create a very good version based on that very bad version. I took my inspiration from a version that hails from India called Chicken Biryani (learn more about its origins here).

My Chicken & Rice, Biryani-Style contains lots of the exotic spices that are associated with Indian cooking (cinnamon, curry powder, ginger, coriander), and the creaminess does come from a can -- but this time, it is in the form of gloriously rich coconut milk that adds sweetness to balance all of the intense flavors.

American Texmati brown rice adds amazing flavor and texture and, well, is all-American. This dish takes a little time and patience to prepare but it is so worth it. You will never look at that other chicken and rice the same way again.