Chicken Biryani

I am cooking biryani again. When I am browsing for recipes of biryani, it is as if I have entered a biryani maze. I am forever wandering in the maze looking at all types of biryani, different ingredients, different way of cooking it and oh, another world of maze in spices…


Since there are so many types of biryani and I do lose track in the biryani maze. But after making it for a few times, I come to realize that it doesn’t matter what type of biryani, the most important part is the taste. You will have many many combination of spices to make the biryani uniquely but at the same time, enjoyably to eat. In biryani and every other Indian food, there are a simple rule to follow which is the food must include these tastes:  sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent. OK, not simple actually. But once you get hold of this, it is enjoyable and fun to work around the spices and other ingredients to achieve the balance of the six tastes. You can read more about it here.

As for today, this type of biryani is much easier to cook because this biryani is done by cooking the rice to 90% done and the chicken to 100% done. Then you layer the chicken and rice in a pot and cook for certain period of time. It is easier to control compared to cook all in one pot. Why I say this? If you cook in one pot, you need to be very skillful to estimate the amount of liquid/water you add to the pot of uncooked rice because if you add more, it will get mushy or if too little, the rice will not cook well.

When layering the rice and the chicken, then drizzling with the sauce. The chicken and the sauce will mingle together during the cooking process and the heat will let the rice absorb the sauce like a sponge. At the end, what we are getting is an outcome of  a good mingling session where spice is the main host that brings the rice and chicken together along with some guests playing their roles in the session. A harmonious feast.


Chicken Biryani (Serves 2)


  • For cooking the rice:
  • 1 1/2 cup of Basmati Rice
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/2 tablespoon of salt
  • This is for coloring a portion of the rice: 4 to 5 threads of saffron, grind finely and soak in boiling water for 10 minutes
  • For cooking the chicken:
  • Half a chicken, chop into pieces, about 3 inches
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 teaspoon of ginger garlic paste, from 1 inch ginger and 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 handful of coriander leaves, chop roughly
  • 1 handful mint leaves, chop roughly
  • 1/2 cup of yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar (optional – it is to balance the taste)
  • Spices to cook with the chicken:
  • Whole spice: 1/2 stick of cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom, 2 cloves, 2 bay leaves, 1 star anise
  • Ground spice:
  • 1 tablespoon of ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon of garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • For garnishing the rice:
  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly for caramelising with 1 teaspoon of oil
  • Some mint leaves and coriander leaves
  • Serve biryani with raita (yogurt)


  1. In a pot, bring water to boil and add salt. Put the basmathi rice to cook. Cook until the rice turns long. Don’t overcook the rice. It should be similar to cooking pasta to al-dente, slightly hard in the centre but can break with your finger when you press on the grain.
  2. Drain the rice. Take a portion of the rice (about 1/4) and colour it with the saffron water. Set all aside.
  3. Heat up the pot with oil in medium heat. Put in the whole spice and fry for a while. About 1 minute .
  4. Put in the diced onion and fry until the onion turns soft. Add in the ginger garlic paste and fry for a while. Be careful not to burn the ginger garlic paste.
  5. Put in all the ground spices and mix well. Then, put in the chicken and mix with the rest of the ingredients in the pot. When the chicken’s surface turns white, pour in water, curd, coriander and mint. Cover and cook for about  1 hour with low heat.
  6. After 1 hour, season the chicken with salt and sugar (optional). Turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes while you get ready to steam the rice.
  7. Get a large pot and you need to layer the rice and chicken. Put a layer of rice then the chicken pieces until you finished all the ingredients. Drizzle the sauce on the rice as well.
  8. With very low heat, cook the rice and chicken for about 30 minutes.
  9. While waiting for the rice to be cooked, you can start preparing the garnish. Fry the sliced onion with oil under low heat until the onion turn to golden colour. This could roughly take 20 minutes under low heat.
  10. When the rice is done. Pour it in a big plate and garnish with the caramelised onion, mint and coriander.
  11. Serve rice with raita (yogurt).

This recipe is adapted from Yummy Tummy Aarthi.

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