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4 people

Prep time:


Time to cook

2 hours

Good for:


Chicken biryani

It’s not an easy dinner fix, but it is really worth the effort. Comfort food, lovely and aromatic. Not my picture yet, so borrowed with thanks. 


500 g chicken  cut up in 2inch pieces. I use thighs with no bones and no skin.

Mixed spices for the marinade as follows:

1 dried bay leaf, 2 small dried red chiles, 2 inch cinnamon stick, 5 cloves, 5 cardamon pods, 1 star anise, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/2 black peppercorns, 1/4 tsp fennel, 1/4 tsp carom seeds (if using) 


80 g of full fat yoghurt

1 tbsp sesame oil


.230 g long grained basmati rice

1 tbsp sea salt

1/2 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Whole spices:

2 medium bay leaves,4 cloves, 4 cardamon pods, 4 star anise, 3 inch cinnamon stick, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 6 black peppercorns 



oil as needed

2 tbsp Ghee or butter

250 g chopped yellow onion

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 inch  ginger crushed

1 small (50g) tomato chopped

2 green chili peppers if using

4 dried plums if using 



Step 1

prepare the spices for the marinade. Use a spice grinder until you have a mostly smooth mix. Mix with yoghurt and salt to taste. Add chicken and leave overnight in Fridge.

Step 2


Make sure to leave the meat an hour in the kitchen before cooking.

Wash the rice well, leave to soak for 30 minutes at least.

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion first and saute until golden. Then add ginger, garlic and whole spices and saute 2-3 minutes more until aromatic. Add 2 tbsp of water to deglace the pan. Once water dries up, you are ready for next step


Step 3

Add the chicken with the marinade and cook for 2-3 minutes until it changes color. Then add the tomatoes, chili and plums. add 1/2 cup of water and leave to gently simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 4

Turn off the heat on the pot when chicken is cooked- water should have evaporated by now. Otherwise you can cheat and quickly cook it away or pour any excess water out. Cook the rice: Bring water to boil in a separate pot,  add salt, oil and lemon, stir once water boils again add the drained rice. Stir and bring back to boil. Cook for 5 minutes. No more. You do not want mushy rice. Turn off the heat. remove any excess water. stir in rose water,if you like and a 1 tbsp of lemon juice. 

Step 5

 Oil the bottom of as Dutch oven or pot. Layer 1/2 the rice. Sprinkle with a tsp of garam masala on top. then add the chicken and top with the remaining rice. Sprinkle the remaining garam masala. Drizzle with a bit of red food coloring or saffran water. Add coriander leaves and mint leaves and lemon slices. Cover the top with aluminium foil and the tightly closed lid. Turn the heat to medium and let the steam develop for 4-5 minutes. You can hear it. Turn down to lowest heat and allow to steam 20 minutes. Leave to stand for 10 minutes and serve. Serve directly from pot with raita.   


See I told you it was a lot of work, but well worth it. 2 main tips is make sure you do not have excess water with the chicken. It should not be in a sauce, but should mingle perfectly to a ‘dry dish’. the other tip is that you can buy the biryani spices mixed already in the Indian super markets. I have my own, but I appreciate it is a lot of different spices for one dish. However if you are often using my recipes, you will have most. You can use the cinnmon ground as well as ground cardamon- makes it easier. 

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