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Chicken Biryani

In a hurry? You can
use a pre-mix
season packet:

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This a flavorful, aromatic, medium spicy dish made with basmati rice, spices, herbs and chicken. It can also be made with beef or even goat meat.

Total time: about 1.5 hours not counting optional overnight marinating

Preparation time: about 1 hour

Cooks for about: 25 minutes

Yield: 10 - 12 servings. You can scale this up or down and it freezes very well.

Easy to make!


For the Marinade:

  • 1.25 cup (281.25 ml) yoghurt , plain
    0.94 cup (234.38 ml) water
    3.75 tbsp vegetable oil (or other plain oil)
    11.25 garlic cloves , minced
    3.75 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
    0.23 tsp ground turmeric
    0.47 tsp cinnamon
    0.94 tsp cayenne (adjust spiciness to taste)
    0.94 tsp ground cardamom
    3.75 tsp garam marsala (Note 2)
    3.75 tsp coriander
    1.88 tbsp cumin
    3.75 tbsp paprika , sweet / ordinary (not smoked)
    3.28 tsp salt

Par Boiled Rice:

3.75 tbsp salt
18.75 cloves
9.38 dried bay leaves
1.88 star anise
11.25 green cardamon pods
4.22 cups (843.75g) uncooked basmati rice (Note 3)
Crispy Onions (Note 4):
3.75 medium onions (yellow, brown) , halved and finely sliced
1.88 cup (468.75 ml) oil , for frying
1.88 tsp saffron threads (loosely packed) (Note 5)
3.75 tbsp warm water
1.88 cup coriander / cilantro , chopped
0.47 cup (112.5g) ghee or unsalted butter , melted (Note 6)

For the chicken biryani marinade

  • Whole spices (see the whole spice section below)
  • 5 lbs chicken (6 kg) I prefer boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 cups plain yogurt (curd or dahi)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 6 teaspoons minced ginger root - either already prepared (sold in tubes at the grocery store fresh herbs section) or from 1 inch of ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon salt (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 to 2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 3 tablespoons ground paprika, use the less spicy variety)
  • 3 to 6 tablespoon garam masala (or biryani masala)
  • 6 teaspoons coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons Lemon juice

Other ingredients

  • 5 cups basmati rice (aged basmati rice is best)
  • 5 tablespoon ghee or butter
  • 4 large onions sliced thinly
  • 3/4 cup to 1.25 cup mint leaves chopped fine (about 25 - 35 leaves)
    If you don't have mint, you can use fresh, chopped cilantro
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt (or Indian curd)
  • 3/4 to 1.25 teaspoon red chili powder (optional, adds heat)
  • 3 teaspoons garam masala (or biryani masala)
  • water, as directed in the recipe, around 6 cups water (or coconut milk) (more if needed )
  • 2 teaspoons salt (to stir in water) (optional)
  • 5 tablespoon fried onions (optional, as a garnishl)
  • 2 or 3 pinches saffron (optional)(soak for 30 minutes in 2 Tablespoons hot milk)

Whole spices

They add flavor, but are also for appearance and tradition. The downside is some folks don't like biting into a pure spice, it can be intense. So I put them in a cheesecloth bag or just add a pinch of the ground versions (aside from the bay leaves) instead. If you don't want to do this, you can use the ground equivalents shown below

  • 3 bay leaf (tej patta)
  • 15 green cardamoms (choti elaichi)
    or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 45 cloves (lavang)
    or 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2.5 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
    or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 star anise (chakri phool )
    or 1/4 teaspoon ground star anise) (optional)
  • 2 teaspoon caraway seeds (shahi jeera)
    (optional or substitute with cumin if you don't have caraway seeds)
  • Optional
    3 strands of mace (javitri)
    or 1/2 teaspoon ground mace


  • Dutch oven OR 12 to 16 quart pot
  • Cutting board, knife
  • Measuring cups and measuring spoons
  • Mixing bowl, cutting boards, utensils, etc.


Step 1 - Mix the marinade in a bowl

In a large container that you can seal, add

  • yogurt,
  • ginger paste,
  • garlic paste,
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt,
  • garam masala,
  • turmeric,
  • cinnamon
  • coriander
  • paprika
  • |lemon juice and
  • cayenne powder.

Step 2 - Prep the chicken and let rest at least 1 hour, preferably overnight

Make slits on the chicken pieces. Add it to the marinade and mix well. Cover and put in the fridge for at least 1 hour to as long as overnight.

Step 3 - Rinse and partly cook the rice

Rinse the basmati rice three times and then Rinsing gets rid of some starch which keeps the rice from becoming mushy.

Next add the whole spices bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, shahi jeera and mace. Skip this step if you do not want to use whole spices or if you wantthem in a cheesecloth bag. In this case, you'll add the ground versions to step 5.

Partially cook the rice (add 2 cups of water per cup of rice) over very low heat for 15 minutes. This results in the rice being mostly but not completely cooked.

Then drain the water and discard, using a colander or sieve.

Step 4 - Cook the onions, then add the chicken to the ghee/butter/oil pot

Heat the ghee, unsalted butter in a large pot.

Add onions and fry them evenly stirring often until uniformly golden brown but not burned (about 15 minutes)

Add chicken and sauté until for 5 minutes on a medium heat.

 Then cover and cook on a low flame until the chicken is cooked and tender about 20 minutes more. Uncover and sauté to evaporate any excess moisture in the pot.

Step 5 - Add the seasonings

To the pot add

  • the whole spice bag and/or the ground equivalents.
  • 1/4 cup yogurt ,
  • chopped mint leaves or cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala.

Step 6 - Layer with in a pot

 Mix everything well and layer chicken evenly at the bottom.

 Spread the drained basmati rice in a layer over the chicken and gently pat down.

Step 7 - Add water

To a separate bowl, add 3.5 cups water.

 Pour 2 cups of this water across the sides of the pot. Gently pour the rest on top of the rice.

 Pat the rice level again if needed. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons mint leaves.

Add the saffron-soaked milk. Drizzle the saffron across rice surface in random pattern.

Step 9 - Cook in the pot on the stove

Put in a pot, cover and cook on a low flame until the chicken biryani is done to your liking, about 30 minutes. If the rice is still under cooked or hard, pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup boiling water and cook further. When done it has to be fully cooked, yet remain grainy.

Step 10 - Rest and serve

 Fluff up the chicken biryani with a fork.

 Serve from top to the bottom layer. Each serving gets biryani rice from top and chicken from the bottom layer..

Serve the chicken biryani with raita and shorba (biryani gravy)

Another version of Chicken Biryani is here

Click here for related items on Amazon

Click here for related items on Amazon

Click here for related items on Amazon

Click here for related items on Amazon