Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chicken-Prosciutto Rolls in Lemon-Thyme Biryani

May 5, 2009

It's Cinco de Mayo!

Yesterday, it was Myrna's birthday (my sister). Although we didn't get together, I celebrated her birthday by creating a new simple, healthy dish that didn't have too many ingredients. I kept thinking that she would want to try this out some day. Then, I remembered that I had kept this Biryani spice mix that my friend, Padma Mangharam Siap, had introduced me to during a field trip to a special district in Chicago --- DEVON --- where South Asians, Russians, Muslims, and other ethnic groups commingled in commercial "bliss." When you hear the names, Chicken Biryani or Beef Biryani, please note that the dishes are mildly spicy, Sindhi style.

At the Indian grocer, A to Z Pantry, at the corner of North Elmhurst Road and Camp McDonald, I had tried to get "Harry" to give me recipes for the past 2-1/2 years. I was trying to be helpful. I wanted more SPICE for my recipes without the food necessarily getting hot, as in fiery and smoldering to my taste buds. I explained to "Harry" that many of his customers were non-Asian and would benefit from knowing how certain spices in his ethnic retail store's shelves could make their American home cooking sizzle.

I have used my Biryani spice mix in my barbecued pork, chicken, and beef dishes. For non-South Asian cooks, just use a little bit of the spice. Add Filipino white vinegar (the most popular brand being Datu Puti Cane Vinegar, a.k.a. Sukang Maasim), some soy sauce, or oyster sauce, and a little sesame oil. Yummy barbecues!

The following recipe is meant for the typical Midwest kitchen. There are some Italian, German, and Polish immigrants in my lovely white picket fence neighborhood so I thought I'd share my simple recipe with them also.

All my neighors would have to do is make a trip to "Harry's" store, A to Z Pantry: Indian Grocers, and buy any Biryani mix. Of course, my neighbors can buy their lottery tickets or "scratch-offs" there as well.


6 skinless chicken breasts, defrosted
12 slices of prosciutto
1 tsp. of Biryani mix per chicken breast (you can use more!)
1 sprig of fresh thyme, chopped (without the stem)
1/2 lemon
about 2 to 3 tbsps. of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
12 toothpicks

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Rub each chicken breast with 1 tsp. (or more) Biryani mix. Set aside.
3. Use a plate to assemble the following for each chicken breast:
- Put a piece of prosciutto on the plate.
- Put the chicken breast on top of the prosciutto.
- Then, on the top layer, add another piece of prosciutto.
- Roll the chicken breast tightly.
- Secure the chicken-prosciutto roll with two toothpicks.
4. Get an oven-proof baking dish and arrange the chicken-prosciutto rolls on it.
5. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the rolls.
6. Squeeze the juice of a 1/2 lemon over the rolls.
7. Sprinkle the chopped thyme over the rolls.
8. Season the chicken-prosciutto rolls with a little salt and pepper. (If the proscuitto is not very salty, you can add more salt.)
9. Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes. Turn the chicken rolls so the bottom part of the chicken breasts get browned.
10. Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes.
11. Before serving, cut each roll into four slices. (Do remember to remove the toothpicks.)
12. Serve hot. Spoon the Lemon-Thyme Biryani juices over the chicken-prosciutto rolls.


The brand A to Z Pantry carries is MTR Imports, Inc. Ready-to-Eat Lemon Rice. What I like about this rice-in-a-pouch is that I don't need to cook! All I do is immerse the unopened pouch of rice in boiling water for about 5 minutes. After I remove the hot rice from its foil container, I would mix it with pre-roasted pine nuts. If I'm more adventurous, I would garnish the top of the rice with sauteed scallions or chopped green onions. Your family or guests will not be able to figure out that you've just spiked a traditional recipe with the best of South Asian spices.

This dish would make a great potluck meal since it can be gently reheated.

Bon Appetit!

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