Chicken Biryani is a very popular dish when it comes to South Asian food. Usually this dish can be only associated with South Asian cuisine, but it’s actually traced back to Persia. It’s made with different preparations and ingredients across the Asian continent. This is the go-to dish for my family or any dinner party that I host.
The chicken and the rice are cooked separately than layered to make a one-pot deliciousness. My take on this recipe is easy but not compromising flavor. I like to use readily available spices and ingredients so you can enjoy this lavish meal often.
Make sure to use Basmati rice, this rice is very aromatic and cooks up fluffy.
Today I only seasoned the rice water with salt. You can season the rice water with some whole spices like bay leaf, cumin seeds, cloves and green cardamom.
I fully boil the rice because I am usually layering in a serving dish. You can boil the rice half way than layer and finish on low heat till rice is fully done.
Protein can be your choice of chicken, beef, goat, fish or shrimp.
Keep in mind that bone in chicken, not all pieces have much meat. You can use chicken thighs or chicken breast cut into cubes. Avoid excess water in the chicken.
I have used a mix of whole spices and ground spices. The Kashmiri chili powder gives the sauce a beautiful color you can substitute with Paprika.
Tamarind is sour you can get the pods, concentrates or pastes. You can skip the tamarind if you don’t have any. Usually you can get this at any international store. You may also find tamarind pulp with the seed or tamarind. You can take the seed out by soaking it in some warm water. But you can leave it out as well, it’s not essential to this recipe.
You can make as many layers of rice and chicken depending on the size of your pot or serving dish. Make sure the bottom layer and final top layer is with rice.
There are many options for garnish: fresh cilantro, mint, nuts, saffron or caramelized onions.
This recipe makes medium spicy Biryani if you like it extra spicy adjust the green chilies and chili powder.
Cook time 1 hour also include layering. It takes me 1 1/2 hour from start to finish.
We enjoy this dish with side of salad and this refreshing cucumber raita (a yogurt sauce with shredded cucumber).
- 2 1/2 lb Chicken (bone in) (you can also use chicken thighs or breast)
- 3 1/2 cups Basmati rice (rinsed till water runs clear. I do not keep the rice soaked)
- 1 cup oil
- 3-4 medium tomatoes (pureed)
- 2 medium onions (chopped)
- 2 mild or spicy green chilies (chopped)
- 2 tbsp. fresh garlic minced
- 2 tbsp. fresh ginger minced
- 6 dried prunes
- 1 cup full fat yogurt (whisked)
- 2 tbsp. tamarind paste (see notes)
- Zest of 1 lemon and juice
- 4 green cardamom
- 4 brown cardamom
- 1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 cloves
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tsp. heaping cumin powder
- 2 tsp. heaping coriander powder
- 2 tsp. garam masala
- 1 tsp. turmeric powder
- 2 tsp. red chili powder (adjust to taste)
- 1 tsp. Kashmiri chili powder or paprika powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt (adjust to taste)
- 1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint (chopped)
- 1 lemon sliced for presentation
- Red/yellow food color mixed in little water separately. This is optional just for presentation
- 1 cup plain yogurt (whisked)
- few tbsp. milk
- 1/3 cup shredded cucumber
- salt & black pepper to taste
- Shred cucumber on a grater. Squeeze all water from the cucumber.
- Add to whisked yogurt.
- Add a few tbsp. of milk to yogurt to consistency you desire. Not to thick or thin
- In a large heavy bottom pot heat oil on medium high.
- Add onions. Sauté till light golden brown about 8-10 minutes.
- Add green chilies, whole spices, sauté for 2-3 minutes till onions get more golden.
- Add ginger/garlic, sauté for 30 seconds. Onions will have gotten nice golden brown color.
- Add chicken, let it sear for 5 minutes on high. This adds extra flavor.
- Add tomatoes, powder spices, yogurt, prunes & tamarind (you can add everything to the tomatoes to make it easier to mix) Mix well. Let it cook for 25-30 minutes on medium. You should not have to add any water. But if you feel like sauce is sticking and too thick before chicken is done you can add some water.
- Oil will separate and rise to top. Sauce should be thick not too watery. Add Zest of lemon and juice.
- Minutes before chicken is done. Start on the rice.
- Rinse rice till water runs clear, about 4-5 times.
- In large pot bring 4quarts of water(16cups) to boil.
- Add 1 tbsp. salt to water
- Add rice, boil till done, about 10 minutes.
- Drain rice and place back in pot with lid covered till ready to layer.
- Have everything ready: the chicken, rice, garnish ingredients.
- Layer 1/2 of rice to a serving dish
- Drizzle with food colors if using any (don't add too much of color)
- Layer all the chicken pieces on top of the rice and half the sauce.
- Garnish with some chopped cilantro/mint.
- Layer rest of rice over chicken, drizzle with food color. Layer rest of sauce over the rice. Garnish with rest of cilantro/mint. Place lemon slices and squeeze some lemon juice all over. Enjoy!
This looks so good! I love your recipe for biryani– it’s traditional, well-written, and simple to follow!
Thank you! So many ways to make this dish.
What do you mean by adding “food colors”?
Food colors can be added to some water. Like red, yellow or orange. It’s purely for aesthetics. Sometimes the blend of colors in the rice look nice. It’s not going to alter the flavor of the dish. Totally optional. 🙂