Chicken and Rice Casserole

I woke up this morning to Hindi songs from the 60's wafting through the walls at that high decibel that only Hindi songs seem to reverberate at. My aunt is visiting and every morning, I hear my dad and her in the next room, listening to music from their childhood and chatting, waking me up at least an hour earlier than I’d like to. The rains are here and the days are idyllic and tinged with a sweet nostalgia. Idyllic if you don’t have to step outside and deal with the torrential downpour, that is. But if you do, you’re rewarded with that ridiculously intoxicating smell of fresh earth and the world suddenly twice as vibrant, like an oversaturated photograph. It’s my favourite time of the year; and if you could sit here with me on the verandah, watching grey clouds cast a silvery light over the garden, making it glow, I know you’d agree.


On the first day of my aunt’s stay, we had a lunch-do for her, and one of the things on the menu was a chicken and rice casserole that I want to tell you about. We ate a lot of this when I was growing up, after which, for some reason, it completely disappeared from the dinner rotation. But a few weeks ago I had a craving for it out of the blue, and we’ve made it a few times since. Although technically it isn’t like risotto at all, I think it’s comforting in the way that a good risotto is- creamy, hearty flavourful and soul -bolstering. (I had to google soul-bolstering to see if that is a thing. It is!) And it is just the sort of thing you’d want to eat on a rainy day.


What usually happens around here is that there’ll be some left over ghee-rice waiting to be used up, a few pieces of cooked chicken left over from making stock; and we’ll put the two together, pour some white sauce over it and bam!, easiest, yummiest use of left-overs. And although a huge part of this casserole’s charm is that excepting for the white sauce, it can be made entirely from left overs, it is so delicious that it’s worth making from scratch. In fact, I urge you to do so at least once, because there really is nothing as delicious as rice cooked in chicken broth. 


And lastly, can I say that I love you for being patient with me and checking the blog every now and then to see if we’ve updated? Thank you, you’re a loyal bunch and every time I look at the stats, I smile.


                  Chicken and Rice Casserole


 For chicken and broth:

250 g chicken breast

3 cups water

salt and pepper to taste

For rice:

1 cup broth

½ cup long-gran white rice

1 tbsp butter

For white sauce:

4 tbsp butter

1/3 cup flour

1 cup milk

½ cup broth

salt and pepper to taste

½ cup shredded mozzarella

¼ cup shredded cheddar




For the chicken and broth:

In a medium-sized pot, add the chicken, water, salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high until it comes to a boil. Now cover the pot, reduce the flame to a low and cook for or 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. When cool enough to handle, remove the chicken from the stock, shred and set aside.

(The broth will be used to make white sauce, and to cook the rice).

To make the rice:

Bring broth and butter to a boil in a pot that is deep and not wide (to reduce evaporation). Add the washed rice. Add salt to taste, if desired. When the liquid reduces to the level of the rice, reduce heat, cover and cook on low flame for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked to your liking.

To make the white sauce:

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat until foaming. Add the flour and stir for 1-2 minutes or until it changes colour slightly. Remove from heat, slowly add milk and broth, mixing constantly, until mixture is smooth. Return to heat, stir until sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

To assemble casserole:

Spoon the rice into a baking dish with 4 cup capacity (8"x 1 1/2" round pan) and flatten, top with shredded chicken, pour the white sauce on top, sprinkle with the cheese and bake at 170 degrees Celcius 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Serve hot.