Chicken biryani step-by-step recipe with video and photos.
What is biryani
Biryani is a rice-based dish that originated in the Indian subcontinent. It is made with long-grain rice (mostly Basmati rice) and meat or vegetables that are cooked in whole spices. Be it a party or indulging your guests, biryani is a winning dish loved by all. The secret behind making the perfect biryani is the use of whole spices.
Biryani has two main variations - kachi biryani and pakki biryani. Some regional variations call for adding boiled eggs or big chunks of potatoes.
Kachi biryani calls for layering soaked raw rice and raw marinated meat along with spices and simmering them together until they are all cooked. Pakki biryani is where the rice and meat/vegetables are par-cooked separately, assembled in layers, and finished with cooking them completely on "dum" (steam). Kachi biryani is more difficult to make and requires a lot of experience as the ratio of water, rice, and meat have to be perfect, along with the correct temperature and cooking time. The timing is important as there is a chance of either the meat being undercooked or the rice becoming overcooked. Since the pot is sealed, it is not possible to monitor the dish while being cooked.
About this recipe
The recipe I am sharing here is the Hyderabadi-style pakki biryani or dum biryani. The chicken gravy/curry and par-boiled rice are assembled by layering them alternatively and then cooked on "dum" (steam). This lets the rice soak up the flavours of the gravy/curry making it flavourful and delicious.
The layering and steaming create a beautiful variation of texture, colour, and flavour which makes this biryani truly royal.
I have earlier shared the recipe for vegetable biryani. Here is my fail-proof recipe to make chicken biryani. Read on for ingredients, tips and tricks, and all FAQs to make delicious chicken biryani at home.
Chicken: Use thigh and leg pieces in this dish.
Rice: Use Basmati rice to make biryani
Spices: There are a variety of whole spices used - bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, star anise, and black cardamom. The powdered spices (turmeric powder, chilli powder, garam masala) are used to marinate the chicken.
Yogurt: Plain yogurt is used to marinate the chicken.
Onion, ginger, garlic: They form the base of the chicken gravy.
Ghee: I make this dish with ghee; however, you may replace it with any cooking oil of your choice.
Other ingredients: Mint leaves, coriander leaves, saffron
Step by step instructions
Marinate chicken with yogurt, salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, and garam masala for 30 minutes (steps 1,2,3).
Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot and add whole spices - bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black cardamom, star anise, and mace (step 4).
Add the rice. Let it cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes until rice is half done. Drain the water and cool the rice uncovered (steps 5,6).
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a thick bottom pot. Add a handful of sliced onions. Fry until the onion is crispy and golden. Set aside (steps 7,8).
Heat 1 tablespoon ghee. Add shah jeera, bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and pepper. Saute for a few seconds (step 9).
Add the remaining onion and fry until golden (step 10).
Add ginger and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes (steps 11,12).
Add the marinated chicken and mix well. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the chicken is almost done (steps 13,14).
Add half of the cooked rice to completely cover the chicken (step 15).
Add mint leaves, coriander leaves, and fried onions (step 16).
Add the remaining rice and spread it. Add saffron milk and 1 tablespoon ghee (step 17).
Heat a tawa or griddle. Once it is hot enough, place the biryani pot on top of the tawa and reduce the flame to the lowest setting. Let the biryani cook on very low heat for 30 minutes (step 18).
A good biryani should have
- long-grain rice that is not sticky yet cooked to perfection
- fresh vegetables/good-quality meat
- aromatic whole spices
Use Basmati rice. Not only does Basmati rice have a great aroma, but it also has long grains that if cooked correctly, are separate, non-lumpy, and do not stick to each other.
Wash the Basmati rice thoroughly in running water, till the water is clear. Once it is washed, soak it for at least 30 minutes to an hour. Soaking the rice is an important step while making biryani and should not be skipped. Washing and soaking the rice will help to remove excess starch from the rice and achieve a non-sticky texture.
It is important to check the salt in boiling water as this is the only way you are adding salt to the rice. Before adding the soaked rice, check the saltiness of the water. It should be very salty. Since most of the water will be drained, the salt in the rice will be fine.
Do not cook the rice completely in boiling water. It should be half done and must have a bite. The rice is going to cook further in steam after the biryani is assembled so cooking it fully in water will make it mushy.
Layering and steaming the biryani is a key step. This will allow the rice to soak up all the flavours from the curry. Always place the biryani pot on a tawa/griddle and then steam it on low heat. Placing the pot on a tawa will prevent the bottom layer of meat from burning.
For an authentic tasting biryani, use all the spices I used in this recipe. But if you do not have access to all the spices, you may skip them.
Fried onions are an important garnish and I highly recommend not to skip them. Fry a handful of onions in ghee until they are golden and crunchy, taking care not to burn them.
Use ghee to make the best-tasting biryani.
Seal the biryani pot before steaming. The lid for my pot sits tightly without any gap for the steam to escape. If the lid is not tight enough, cover the pot with aluminum foil and then close it.
Pro-tip: If you are planning ahead to make the biryani, marinate the chicken overnight in the refrigerator. This way, you will have melt-in-mouth chicken in your biryani.
Both biryani and pulao are rice-based dishes. The most important difference is in the assembly of the dish. In pulao, soaked rice is added along with vegetables/meat and cooked while in biryani, the rice is parboiled first and then layered with a gravy/curry made with vegetables/meat.
The biryani will turn mushy if the rice is overcooked. This happens if you let the rice cook completely in the water. Always make sure that the rice is around 80% cooked. This way, it will be cooked perfectly when you steam it. Also, before cooking, wash the rice thoroughly till the water runs clear.
Always place the biryani pot on a thick tawa/griddle and then place the tawa on low heat.
If you overcook the biryani rice, spread the rice on a wide tray immediately and let it sit uncovered. This way, it will cool quickly. Also, if your rice is fully cooked, reduce the steaming time to half.
If you undercook the rice, sprinkle 3-4 tablespoon water during the steaming process.
This dish is:
- perfect for parties
- delicious and flavourful
- complete meal
For the chicken gravy
- 1 kg chicken
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoon ghee
- 2 large onions
- 2 inch ginger grated
- 5 cloves garlic grated
- 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds (shah jeera)
- 2-3 small pieces cinnamon
- 5 green cardamom
- 5 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Salt to taste
For the rice
- 3 cups Basmati rice
- 5 green cardamom
- 5 cloves
- 1 black cardamom
- 2-3 small pieces cinnamon
- 1 star anise
- 2-3 mace
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoon milk
- Few strands saffron
- ½ cup mint leaves
- ½ cup coriander leaves
- 1 tablespoon ghee
Marinating the chicken
- Clean and cut the chicken
- To this, add yogurt, salt, turmeric powder, chilli powder, and garam masala
- Mix well and let it marinate for 30 minutes
To make the rice
- Wash the rice well in running water. Soak it for 30 minutes
- Meanwhile, take water in a large pot and bring it to boil
- Add salt and whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black cardamom, star anise, and mace)
- Drain all the water from the rice and add it to boiling water
- Let it cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes until it is half done. Take care not to cook the rice completely
- Drain the water and cool the rice uncovered
To make the chicken gravy
- Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a thick bottom pot. Add a handful of sliced onions
- Fry it until the onion is crispy and golden. Set aside
- In the same pot, andd 1 tablespoon ghee
- Add shah jeera, whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and pepper). Saute for a few seconds
- Add the remaining onion and fry until golden
- Add ginger and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes
- Add the marinated chicken and mix well
- Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until the chicken is nearly done
To assemble the biryani
- Soak saffron strands in milk for 10 minutes
- Once the chicken is almost done, turn off the heat
- Add half of the cooked rice to completely cover the chicken
- Add mint leaves, coriander leaves, and fried onions
- Spread the remaining rice on top
- Add saffron milk and 1 tablespoon ghee
- Heat a tawa or griddle. Once it is hot enough, place the biryani pot on top of the tawa and reduce the flame to the lowest setting
- Let the biryani cook on very low heat for 30 minutes
- Turn off the heat
- Serve chicken biryani with raita of your choice
Click here t watch the biryani web story.