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Chicken Biryani is a delciious savory rice dish loaded with spicy marinated chicken, caramelized onions, and flavorful saffron rice.

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani is a delicious savory rice dish that is loaded with spicy marinated chicken, caramelized onions, and flavorful saffron rice. For my Biryani, I simplify the order of operations, while retaining the traditional layered approach to assembling it.
Course Entree
Cuisine Indian
Level Intermediate
Main Ingredient Poultry, Rice
Diet Gluten-Free, Low Sugar
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings 5 servings
Calories 707kcal


for chicken

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 10 grams garlic (grated)
  • 10 grams ginger (grated)
  • 1 serrano chili peppers (to taste, minced)
  • 5 grams mint (finely chopped)
  • 10 grams cilantro (finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 900 grams bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (or drumsticks)

for rice

  • 6 cups water
  • 2 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 5 pods green cardamom (smashed)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 360 grams basmati rice (~2 cups)

for onions

  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 medium onions (sliced thin)

for Biryani

  • 1 cup reserved boiling liquid (from rice)
  • ½ teaspoon saffron threads
  • cilantro (for garnish)


  • To marinate the chicken for the biryani, combine the vegetable oil, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, mint, cilantro, garam masala, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl and stir together. Add the chicken pieces and toss together making sure the chicken is thoroughly coated in the marinade. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  • In a pot wide enough to hold the chicken in a single layer, add the ghee and onions and saute the onions until they are well caramelized (15-20 minutes). Transfer the caramelized onions to a bowl and set aside.
    Caramelized onions add a pleasant sweetness to contrast the spicy chicken in the Biryani.
  • While the onions caramelize, prepare the rice by washing in a strainer under cold running water until the water runs clear.
    It's important to wash your rice thouroughly to rid it of any excess starch so your Biryani turns out fluffy.
  • To par-boil the rice, add the water, salt, cardamom, cumin and bay leaf to a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and boil for 7 minutes. Drain the rice, reserving 1 cup of the liquid.
    Parboiling the rice with spices not only ensures the rice is cooked through, it infuses your biryani with tons of flavor.
  • In the pot you caramelized the onions in, add the chicken in a single layer, skin-side down. Fry until golden brown on one side (about 5 minutes). Flip the chicken over and fry the other side until golden brown. Transfer the chicken back to the bowl you marinated it in.
    Browning the chicken for the Biryani brings out the flavors of the spices and aromatics in the marinade.
  • To assemble the biryani, add the saffron to the rice and toss to distribute evenly. Add half the rice mixture to the bottom of the pot you browned the chicken in.
  • Top the rice with the chicken in a single layer.
    The browned chicken gets layeed on the rice.
  • Top the chicken with an even layer of caramelized onions.
    A layer of caramelized onions goes on top of the chicken for the Biryani.
  • Finish putting together the Biryani by adding the rest of the rice in an even layer. Add 1 cup of reserved liquid from boiling the rice. Cover the pot with a lid and put the pot on the stove over medium heat and set the timer for 20 minutes. When you can see steam escaping from under the lid, turn down the heat to low and continue cooking until the timer goes off and then turn off the heat.
    The Biryani is finished off with a layer of saffron rice.
  • Without opening the lid, set the timer for another 10 minutes to steam the biryani.
  • Mix the Chicken Biryani together and then transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.


Calories: 707kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 35g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 165mg | Sodium: 1771mg | Potassium: 505mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 310IU | Vitamin C: 5.5mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 2.1mg