Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani with Cucumber Mint Raita
While most often associated with northern Indian cuisine, Biryani is a dish with Persian origins found in various forms from Iraq to Thailand. As you might imagine, there is a huge variety of different preparations stemming from the vast swath of land it calls home. Common elements include some type of meat (goat, lamb or chicken), rice, and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander and mint.

I’m not going to say that my recipe originates anywhere specific, but it relies heavily on Indian flavours. Though it takes a bit of prep work, it’s not complicated and there’s a lot off leeway to improvise with your own blend of spices. The chicken gets married to the rice between layers of caramelized onions. This symbiotic relationship keeps the chicken moist while infusing the rice with some serious flavour.

It’s fantastic with a cucumber raita and a squeeze of lemon, cooling off the heat while adding a fresh zing that brightens all the spices in the dish. The ingredient list below might look intimidating at first glance, but there’s nothing all that exotic on the list and it all comes together in about an hour + cooking time.

for chicken
4-5 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger powder (or 1 tsp grated ginger)
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp oil

for rice
3 qts water
1 tsp salt
10 green cardamom pods crushed
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
2 C basmati rice

for onions
2 medium onions sliced thin
2 serrano chiles minced (remove the seeds and membranes if you want it less spicy)
1 clove garlic minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp salt

for assembly
1 C + 3 Tbs water the rice was boiled in
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbs cilantro minced
2 Tbs mint minced
1/2 tsp saffron (optional)

Wash the chicken, pat dry and trim any excess fat or skin off the chicken. Mash together the garlic, salt, ginger, garam masala, black pepper and oil to make a paste. Coat all the pieces of chicken rubbing into all the crevices.

In a tall deep pot, add the water, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and bay leaf, cover then bring to a simmer on medium low heat.

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy bottomed frying pan over medium high heat until hot. Add a small splash of oil coating the bottom of the pan then add the chicken skin side down. Fry undisturbed until the chicken is nice and brown on that side (about 3 minutes). Flip the chicken then brown on the other side.

Transfer the chicken to a plate, turn down the heat to medium low then add the onions to the pan. Fry the onions, scrapping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan until the onions are fully caramelized (about 20 minutes). Add the chiles, garlic, garam masala, ginger, and salt and continue to cook until the garlic and spices are fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Turn the heat on the water up and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, then turn the heat back down to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain the rice reserving 1 C + 3 Tbs of liquid.

To assemble the biryani, put half the rice back into the tall pot. Sprinkle half the saffron over the rice followed by half the cilantro and mint. Spread half the onion mixture over this then lay the chicken pieces on top. Cover with the rest of the onions then the rest of the rice. Top with the rest of the saffron, cilantro and mint. Pour the reserved liquid from the rice into the pan you fried the onions in scraping up any residual browned bits of onion then dump this on top of the rice.

Cover then cook the biryani over medium low heat for 20-30 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and the chicken is cooked.

Serve with a wedge of lemon and some cucumber raita (recipe below).

for cucumber raita
1 C cucumber peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 C plain yogurt
1 Tbs cilantro minced
1 Tbs mint minced
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients then refrigerate until ready to serve.

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    This is one of my favourite dishes! It’s so true. You can play around with the various spices to achieve a flavour you like. Mmmm…this brings back so many memories!

  • http://www.souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    This is one of my favourite dishes! It’s so true. You can play around with the various spices to achieve a flavour you like. Mmmm…this brings back so many memories!

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    I’m not very well-versed in South Asian/Middle Eastern food but this still looks totally comforting– a perfect meal :)

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com manggy

    I’m not very well-versed in South Asian/Middle Eastern food but this still looks totally comforting– a perfect meal :)

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    blimey that looks really good. i’d pair it with some heavy mutton stew..mmmm.

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    blimey that looks really good. i’d pair it with some heavy mutton stew..mmmm.

  • http://www.kalofagas.blogspot.com/ Peter

    Ooooh, this looks wonderful and the cooling Raita on top is the clincher.

  • http://www.kalofagas.blogspot.com Peter

    Ooooh, this looks wonderful and the cooling Raita on top is the clincher.

  • http://whiteonricecouple.com/ White On Rice Couple

    Gosh, this dish has so much great history. I love learning about the origins of food. This looks really delicious!

  • http://whiteonricecouple.com White On Rice Couple

    Gosh, this dish has so much great history. I love learning about the origins of food. This looks really delicious!

  • http://newlywedcooking.blogspot.com/ sharon

    Such an elegant looking dish!

  • http://newlywedcooking.blogspot.com sharon

    Such an elegant looking dish!

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    I’ve never heard of this before but it is elegant looking and lovely. So many great spices and with juicy thighs.

  • http://www.noblepig.com/ noble pig

    I’ve never heard of this before but it is elegant looking and lovely. So many great spices and with juicy thighs.

  • http://bettylives.com/ Alison

    Oh my god, this looks divine! I’m drooling!

  • http://bettylives.com Alison

    Oh my god, this looks divine! I’m drooling!

  • http://blogchef.net/ Bobby

    This looks like it could take some work, but wow, does it ever look amazing! I am a huge chicken lover and I would like to try this recipe.

  • http://blogchef.net Bobby

    This looks like it could take some work, but wow, does it ever look amazing! I am a huge chicken lover and I would like to try this recipe.

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    That chicken biryani sounds interesting. I have been wondering what exactly biryani was.

  • http://closetcooking.blogspot.com/ Kevin

    That chicken biryani sounds interesting. I have been wondering what exactly biryani was.

  • Marc

    Thanks Peter G and Manggy!

    Diva, AWESOME! I’ve always wanted to say “Blimey” about something:-)

    Thanks Peter!

    White On Rice Couple, I love dishes with history too. Somehow it makes them that much more enjoyable picturing someone eating a dish centuries ago.

    Thanks sharon, noble pig and Alison!

    Bobby it’s actually not too bad, I am perpetually lazy, but this is totally manageable.

    Kevin, it depends on the country, but this is sort of the quintessential biryani.

  • Marc

    Thanks Peter G and Manggy!

    Diva, AWESOME! I’ve always wanted to say “Blimey” about something:-)

    Thanks Peter!

    White On Rice Couple, I love dishes with history too. Somehow it makes them that much more enjoyable picturing someone eating a dish centuries ago.

    Thanks sharon, noble pig and Alison!

    Bobby it’s actually not too bad, I am perpetually lazy, but this is totally manageable.

    Kevin, it depends on the country, but this is sort of the quintessential biryani.

  • http://my2002in1001days.wordpress.com/ Cassandra

    This looks really great. In London (where I live) indian cooking is probably as well-loved as british cooking (maybe even more so!) So biryani is a dish that I’ve tried many times at indian restaurants. I have been planning on making it at home soon- making biryani is actually on my list of recipes to try soon!- so I might have a go at your recipe, it looks lovely, very appetizing. So: thanks.
    Best wishes,
    Cassandra

  • http://my2002in1001days.wordpress.com/ Cassandra

    This looks really great. In London (where I live) indian cooking is probably as well-loved as british cooking (maybe even more so!) So biryani is a dish that I’ve tried many times at indian restaurants. I have been planning on making it at home soon- making biryani is actually on my list of recipes to try soon!- so I might have a go at your recipe, it looks lovely, very appetizing. So: thanks.
    Best wishes,
    Cassandra

  • Muhammad Hamza

    I enjoyed it a lot. If you want Pakistani recipes click the link below for delicious Pakistani recipes.
    Pakistani Recipes

  • Muhammad Hamza

    I enjoyed it a lot. If you want Pakistani recipes click the link below for delicious Pakistani recipes.
    Pakistani Recipes

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16238942671262749285 Pavithra

    Wow thats awesome biriyani….

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16238942671262749285 Pavithra

    Wow thats awesome biriyani….

  • http://weareneverfull.com/ Jonny

    marc, great-looking dish. Funny you should mention that it’s typically associated with north Indian dishes. Among the Bangladeshi population of Shadwell in the East End of London where I used to live, it’s the quintessential Bengali dish. My friend Faisel’s mother (born and raised in Sylhet, Bangladesh) made the best biryani I’ve ever had from her family recipe. It came with a brownish-red spicy sauce with it rather than a raita. I wonder if the widespread and diverse Muslim populations of the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia accounts for the number of divergent places and cultures in which baked rice dishes show up and are considered to be native?

  • http://weareneverfull.com Jonny

    marc, great-looking dish. Funny you should mention that it’s typically associated with north Indian dishes. Among the Bangladeshi population of Shadwell in the East End of London where I used to live, it’s the quintessential Bengali dish. My friend Faisel’s mother (born and raised in Sylhet, Bangladesh) made the best biryani I’ve ever had from her family recipe. It came with a brownish-red spicy sauce with it rather than a raita. I wonder if the widespread and diverse Muslim populations of the Middle East, South Asia and South-East Asia accounts for the number of divergent places and cultures in which baked rice dishes show up and are considered to be native?

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  • Chefette

    Wow, Marc, this recipe sounds divinely delicious, and relatively easy for those who have cooked Asian/Eurasian cuisine. Lucky for me I live in a large city where every ethnic food is available to me. I think the only ingredient that will throw some cooks is the garam masala; I happen to blend my own and use it in my locally-known peach chutney. If home cooks are unsure of this ingredient, then you might offer a garam masala spice blend recipe for them–just a thought. I am definitely going to make this dish for the next small gathering of foodie friends!

  • Inti Wierenga

    Made it a couple of nights ago, but switched in brown basmati for an extra fibre boost: SO yum. thanks!!

  • Satsumagurl

    Made this today. YUMMMMM and my house smells wonderful too. Thanks for the recipe. The carmelized onions really make this dish taste wonderful.

  • janice

    hello! i was wondering is 3 qts about 3 litres? i really want to try cooking this :)

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Janice, 3 quarts = 2.8 liters, but since this is just for boiling rice, approximate measures are fine:-)

  • ankush telawde

    thaks…m using dis recipe for my kitchen assignment….

  • suzzie

    could you use black cardamon instead?

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Suzie, I think black cardamom would taste great in this dish due to their smoky meaty flavor. However if you’re asking if black cardamom has a similar flavor to green cardamom, they are very different.

  • meanduto

    Can I use my rice cooker? Since there would be no left-over water, what would you suggest I use? And how will I ever find your response?

    I read your Bastilla recipe and it made me drool. Bastilla is one of my favorite foods and in my opinion, one of the most wonderful foods in the world! YES!

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      I think using a rice cooker will end up being more work since you’d have to start and stop it many times whole cooking to add ingredients. I have a rice cooker and am all about saving time in the kitchen, but I don’t use it when I make biryani.

      • meanduto

        Thank you for your prompt response.

  • Ben

    Unfortunately disgusting. I followed the recipe to a T, and came out with plain rice and plainer chicken. Really, what spice made it yellow in the picture? There is no turmeric in this. And there’s also no flavor.

    • http://norecipes.com Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Ben, sorry to hear it didn’t turn out to your liking. The yellow color comes from the saffron, my guess is that you may have not added enough. It’s the problem with using volumetric measurements with items like saffron that don’t really fit into a measuring spoon. That’s why I’ve started writing all my new recipes with weight measures for things like this unfortunately I have not had a chance to update my older posts. Saffron gives it the color but it doesn’t give it a ton of flavor, which doesn’t really explain the problem you described. I make this on a regular basis and it is quite flavorful. I’m wondering if some of the spices you used might have been a little old? Spices tend to lose their flavor over time, so if it’s been sitting on your shelf (or on the grocery store shelf) for a while it’s possible that that was the culprit. Maybe if you can describe the problem in a bit more detail I might be able to point you towards the issue. Was it not spicy enough? Not salty enough? Not savory enough?

  • A reader from Washington, DC.

    Hi: Could I use ground cardamon instead of the 10 whole cardamon pods for the rice? I only have the ground, and the price of whole cardamon is incredibly high (at least over here). Thanks.

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!

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