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Chicken Biriyani

Chicken Biriyani

Biriyani is a flavorful rice-dish made with chicken or lamb or even vegetables and spices. There are different styles of preparing biriyani, each having it's own unique taste. It is believed that this dish was introduced to India in the olden days by Mughal travelers. In this recipe, chicken is cooked with spices and then layered with cooked rice. This is then steam cooked, locking in all the flavors. Serve with raitha (onions mixed with yogurt) and you have a wholesome meal.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Calories 1425 kcal


Ghee Rice

  • 2 cups Basmati Rice
  • 1 tbsp Butter You can use Ghee instead
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • ¾ tsp Saffron
  • Salt to taste


  • 15 Peppercorns
  • 8 Garlic Cloves medium sized. Remove the outer skin.
  • 5 Cloves
  • 5 Cardamom Pods remove the skin
  • 2 tbsp Coriander Powder
  • 2 Serrano Pepper add more for extra spice
  • 2 inch Ginger wash and remove the skin
  • 1 tsp Fennel Seeds or Saunf
  • 1 inch Cinnamon

Chicken Gravy

  • 1.5 lbs Chicken cut into 2 inch pieces approximately 600 gms
  • 2 Onions medium sized sliced
  • 5 tbsp Canola oil
  • 5 tbsp Coconut fresh. Grated
  • ¼ cup Yogurt
  • ½ cup Chopped Mint Leaves
  • ½ cup Chopped Cilantro
  • Salt to taste


  • ¼ cup Cashew Nuts
  • cup Raisins
  • 1 Onion medium sized sliced thin.
  • 2 tbsp Canola oil
  • pinch Salt


Marinate chicken

  • Using a mortar and pestle or a mixer-grinder, crush all the ingredients for the marinade into a coarse paste.
  • In a mixing bowl, mix the marinade with the chicken pieces to cover all the pieces. Keep it in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Preparation for the ghee rice

  • Wash the rice and soak it in water for 10 minutes.
  • Drain the rice for about 20 minutes.
  • Soak the saffron in milk. After 5-10 minutes of soaking saffron in milk, the color of the milk would turn yellow.

Prepare the garnish

  • In a pan (you could use the same pan later to cook the chicken pieces), heat 2 tbsp oil and add the cashew nuts and roast them to a golden brown color. Drain and transfer to an absorbent paper.
  • n the same pan, add raisins and remove when they fluff up. Remove from the oil and transfer to an oil absorbent paper.
  • Next add the sliced onions and fry. You can sprinkle a little salt to speed up this process.When they turn brown and are caramelized enough, transfer them to an oil absorbent paper. The onions lose their crispiness when you drain on the absorbent paper. But, I prefer to do this to get rid of the excess oil.

Prepare the chicken gravy

  • In the same pan where you roasted the garnish ingredients, add extra oil if necessary. Add the sliced onions for the chicken curry and saute till they turn translucent.
  • Add the marinated chicken pieces and mix well. Add salt, cover with a lid and cook for 5-8 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, grind the grated coconut to a very smooth paste using as little water as possible.
  • Add yogurt, ground coconut, mint leaves and cilantro to the chicken. Stir to mix everything well. Cover with a lid and cook till the chicken is well done.
  • When the chicken is cooked, you may have a lot of stock in the pan (though you have not added any water). Using a ladle transfer this stock from the pan to a measuring cup (this stock will be used later to prepare the ghee rice). Remove enough stock , but not all of it. We would still need some stock remaining in the chicken gravy to boil it further. (See Recipe Notes)
  • Bring the chicken gravy to a boil again and remove from heat.
  • Prepare ghee rice
  • Heat butter/ghee in a pan and add soaked and drained rice and saute it for 2-3 minutes.
  • To cook the rice you would need 4 cups of water (for every cup of rice, you need 2 cups of water). You can re-use the stock you had removed from the chicken gravy (step 5 of prepare the chicken gravy). Add additional water to make it 4 cups (for e.g., if you had removed 1 cup of stock from the chicken gravy, then you would need 3 additional cups of water to make it 4 cups). Along with the stock & water, add salt and the soaked saffron (along with the milk) to the rice.
  • Transfer the above mixture to the rice cooker bowl and cook in the "white rice" setting. When the rice is cooked, "fluff" it gently using a fork.


  • Grease a big cooking pot with a little oil.
  • Layer half of the rice in the cooking pot.
  • Add the chicken gravy layer.
  • Layer the rest of the rice and and top the rice layer with the already prepared garnish (of roasted cashew nuts, raisins and caramelized onions). Close the cooking pot tightly with an Aluminum foil (typically the cooking pot is closed with a lid and sealed with dough).
  • The next step is to steam cook these layers. Heat a skillet (big enough to hold your cooking pot) on high heat. Reduce the heat to low/very low heat setting. Place the cooking pot on the skillet. Steam cook for 15-20 minutes.
  • Use a fork to 'fluff" and mix all the layers. Serve hot biriyani with raitha


Even if you do not get a lot of stock (to be later added while preparing ghee rice) to remove from the chicken gravy (step 5 of prepare the chicken gravy) - do not worry. You can use water to cook the rice.
Biriyani tastes good if you leave it to rest after preparing for 4-5 hours (or more if possible). Just reheat either in the microwave or in the oven just before serving.