Biriyani is a baked Indian dish of spiced rice combined with chicken, seafood, or other meats. This version omits the baking step while maintaining the authentic flavors which come from the combination of spices. Note: Whole milk yogurt keeps its creamy texture when cooked; don’t substitute low-fat yogurt, which will curdle.
Bring water, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the saffron to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the rice and cinnamon stick, cover and reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is evaporated. Discard the cinnamon stick.
Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from the pan, cover, and keep warm.
Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the pan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes until lightly browned. Add curry and the next 5 ingredients (through chiles) and cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add yogurt, stirring with a whisk, cook 3 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Add chicken and raisins. Cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add rice; stir well to combine. Sprinkle evenly with cashews and cilantro.
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