Chicken biryani recipe – how to cook the best rice dish in the world

Everyone loves chicken biryani rice, and here is why this deliciously flavored chicken biryani recipe conquers the heart of the most demanding gastronomes.

It is not surprising people crave for biryani rice, with the distinct flavor even for the non-Indians. The process of cooking in dum style enable the aroma and flavor imbue into the rice grains, which make every bite blissful.

Chicken biryani, briyani or biriyani?

Biryani is also known as biryani, briyani or biriyani. It is a South Asian rice dish with the origin from the Indian subcontinent. The ingredients vary, but always include meat (chicken, mutton or beef), a mixture of spices, mint leaves, coriander leaves, fried onions, and yogurt. These ingredients are combined with meat and marinated for at least half a day, and then cooked together with rice, fried onions, and coriander leaves. The meat and spices will eventually flavor the rice to give a fabulous aroma and taste.

There are two ways to cook the chicken biryani.

In kacchi biryani, the chef put the marinated meat at the bottom of the pot. The rice is half-cooked in another pot, drained and placed over the meat alternate with layers of fried onions, coriander, and mint leaves.

This method produces the best chicken biryani because the flavor of the spices and meat will be absorbed by the rice, which makes it very flavorful and aromatic.

Pakki biryani is slightly different. The chef will cook the marinated meat separately, and then layered with the rice, fried onions, and the leaves later. The Pakki method is easy to prepare, but the kacchi method produces the better result.

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chicken biryani rice

Watch the videoRead on: Watch the video recipe at the end of this post

How to cook chicken briyani at home with excellent result

Do not worry about the long list of ingredients. The seeming complicated process of preparing biryani rice can be made in a jiffy once you know the method. However, don’t compromise the list of ingredients if you want to reproduce the most authentic chicken biryani at home.

What you need is a heavy skillet with a tight lid, plus the patients to cook it over a very low heat. If you are ready to do this, you are on the way to cook up one of the most aromatic rice dishes you can imagine.

Biryani often takes the name of the region where it is originated. For example, Hyderabadi Biryani is from Hyderabad located in Central India. My recipe is the Hyderabadi biryani with some Malaysian influence. I use this recipe for a few year and served in my cafe, and finalize the recipe based on the feedback from my customers

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9 Tips to elevate your chicken biryani to the next level

After cooking biryani rice for some year for my customers, I have learned and discovered the important points to take note while preparing it. Please read the note below before attempting the recipe. I hope all this tips and observation I have gone through so far will help you to produce the best biryani.

1. The choice of meat (if you do not want chicken biryani)

meat for biryaniYou can use either chicken, mutton or beef. Cut the meat into large chunks with bone-on. The bone adds flavor to the rice while cooking, and it can make the rice to be much tastier compared to by using boneless meat.

2. Marinate the chicken overnight for best result

marinate chicken biryaniThe ingredients of the marinade differ slightly from different region and countries. However, there is similarity among all the versions. They all contain yogurt, either lime or lemon juice and a range of ground spices.

Marinate the meat for at least half a day, preferably overnight if time is allowable. Since the meat pieces are thicker than fillets, therefore the spices required more time to penetrate into the center. Long marinating time is necessary because a good chicken biryani should have meat that is flavorful for every bite, not just on the surface.

3. Use fresh spices that are aromatic

biryani with fresh spicesYou should use ground spices for better marinating effect. Nowadays, many grocery shops provide ready-made ground spices. If you only manage to get the spices in a whole piece, ground it with a spice herb grinder before using it.

The aroma and spices lost over time. Buy the amount that you need or the smallest amount that is available. Always store the spices in the cold and dry place, away from light.

3. Plain yogurt is the best

yogurt for chicken biryaniUse plain yogurt (common sense). Most of us have yogurt with fruit flavor in the refrigerator, but they will affect the taste of chicken biryani.

4. Ghee is better than butter (for authenticity)

ghee for biryani riceGhee is purified butter, which is the preferred oil for biryani and other Indian dishes. You can use unsalted butter as the substitution if you do not want to buy a large can of ghee, which you may not use it in future.

5. Do not oversight the importance of fried onion

fried onion for chicken biryaniFried onion is an essential ingredient to prepare biryani. Slice the onion paper thin, and separate them by using your hand. Deep fried the onion slice in vegetable oil over low to medium heat. Stir the onions occasionally to ensure even browning, until it turns golden brown. Drain away the excess oil.

You will notice the aroma of fried onion is entirely different from raw onion, which is what we need to cook chicken biryani.

6. Use coriander and mint leaves for the freshness

mint and coriander for chicken briyaniCoriander and mint leaves add freshness to the rice. You can either use the whole leaves or give a few rough chops. However, please do not substitute with other leaves as to preserve the authenticity. Use either one of them if the other one is not available.

7. Never compromised basmati rice with other substitutes

Basmati rice is the long grain rice suitable to prepare biryani. Since it is less sticky than other types of rice, every grain of rice is well defined and separated from each other. That is what it should be for a good biryani rice.

Medium and long grain rice is stickier and therefore will not produce the beautiful texture as basmati rice. The reason behind the selection of basmati rice is similar to use Arborio rice for risotto, in which it is explicitly for such purpose.

Cook the rice separately

basmati rice for biryaniYou can shorten the time to cook the rice by soaking the basmati rice in water for 45 minutes before boiling it. After that, put the soaked rice in a large pot of boiling water, with the amount of water at least three times the volume of the rice.

Add some salt to the water, much like cooking pasta. You can also add some cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaf into the water to add some flavor to the rice. I find that you can omit this step since the spices from the marinade the chicken will eventually absorb by the rice during cooking.

Stir the rice occasionally to avoid it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. You will notice that the rice grains slowly become larger and whiter, which indicates that the rice is cooking. You need to cook the rice until only half done, which takes about three minutes.

How to check if the rice is half-cooked

Remove a grain of rice from the boiling water and place it on a flat surface. The rice is half-cooked if you can break it into half by pressing it with your fingers. When this happens, remove the rice from heat and drain away the water. The half cooked rice is ready to cook together with marinated chicken.

You may wonder why is it necessary to half cook the rice. The rice is laid on top of the chicken in the pot and cooked over very low heat. That means the chicken will get the heat first from the stove earlier than the rice on top. Pre-cooked the rice for three minutes will solve this problem, in which the chicken and the rice will reach the desired doneness at the same time.


biryani rice with butter chciken



8. The right way to cook biryani rice

If you have seen the traditional method of making chicken biryani, you will be amazed that the chef uses the chapati dough to seal the edge of the cover. He will seal the edge of the lid with chapati dough (or any bread dough) to prevent steam from escaping from the pot.

What if you do not have any bread dough?

If you do not have the chapati or bread dough, seal up the edge of the lid with a piece of kitchen towel. The whole purpose is to let the steam inside the skillet to cook the chicken, which is the best way to keep the steam in the pot.

You need to use very low heat to cook the biryani. The yogurt at the bottom of the pot can burn fairly quickly over high heat.

Place the pot in a saucepan or tawa

cook chicken biryaniThe traditional method of cooking biryani is to put the pot on a tawa (a flat, dish-shape frying pan) or a saucepan. The heat from the stove will be further away from the pot and is partially insulated by the tawa. This method is useful if the is still too high even you have adjusted it to the minimum.

Let the steam to cook the rice and the meat. Cooking with steam in an enclosed utensil produce the best biryani rice.

Cook the chicken biryani over very low heat for about 40 minutes. You will start to smell the aroma of the biryani after about 20 minutes. Do not open the lid until the end.

After 40 minutes, switch off the stove and let it stands for another 10 minutes before serving.

You may like the following items:

Homasy 4 Piece 2″ Spice Herb Grinder

GreenPan Rio 5QT Ceramic Non-Stick Covered Skillet

9. Use saffron to improve the flavor and aroma

saffron for biryaniSaffron is an expensive herb, which renders fragrance to the biryani. You can do without it if you do not have saffron.

You can add a few drops of coloring to the rice, but I prefer the natural color. You may I want to add a few drops of red coloring if you want since the base color of biriyani rice is bright yellow.

In 1/2 cup of warm milk crush a pinch of saffron strands and put some whole strands. Wait till it turns yellow. Pour onto the rice before cover the pot with the lid.


chicken biryai rice



A picture worth a thousand words. BUT a video tells more than a thousand pictures.

Watch how to prepare chicken biryani!


5 from 2 votes
Chicken biryani recipe
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr
This recipe is the biryani rice I use in my cafe, based on Hyderabad biryani with some Malaysian influence.
Course: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 2500 kcal
Author: KP Kwan
Ingredients to marinate the chicken
Ingredients to cook rice
  • fried onions coriander, and mint leaves
  • Tomato and cucumber slices
Marinate the chicken
  1. Cut the chicken into large chunks, bone-in, skin on.
  2. Cut the onion into thin slices. Deep fried in oil over low to medium heat until the onion is caramelized and turn golden brown.
  3. Mix half of the fried onion, coriander and mint leaves with the rest of the ingredients for marination.
  4. Keep the marinated chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
Cook the rice
  1. Soak the basmati rice in water for 45 minutes. Drained.
  2. Bring the water to a boil. Add some salt.
  3. Add the basmati rice.
  4. Cook over medium to high heat for three minutes. Keep stirring.
  5. Remove the rice when the rice grain can be broken into 2-3 parts
  6. Drained.
  1. Place the marinated chicken in a heavy bottom pot.
  2. Spread half of the rice on it.
  3. Spread half of the remaining fried onions, coriander and mint leafs on the rice.
  4. Layer the remaining rice on the fried onion, coriander, and mint leaves.
  5. Add some ghee.
  6. Close the lid and seal with chapati/bread dough.(Use kitchen towel to seal if dough not available)
  7. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
  8. Place a saucepan under the pot and cook the rice over very low heat for another 30 minutes.
  9. Open the lid.
  10. Remove the chapati dough
  11. Garnish with more coriander, mint leaves, fried onions and cashew nuts
Nutrition Facts
Chicken biryani recipe
Amount Per Serving (1180 g)
Calories 2500 Calories from Fat 756
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 84g 129%
Cholesterol 520mg 173%
Sodium 3.6mg 0%
Total Carbohydrates 250g 83%
Sugars 20g
Protein 180g 360%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Chicken biryani recipe – how to cook the best rice dish in the world was last modified: December 16th, 2017 by KP Kwan


  • KP Kwan

    Reply Reply April 2, 2017

    Hi, this is KP Kwan. I am happy to see you in this comment area, as you have read through my recipe. I am glad to reply any questions and comments as soon as possible.

  • Sue

    Reply Reply October 1, 2017

    Hi KP
    Tried your chicken biryani rice recipe today and it was fantastic. Really delicious minus the extra oil as compared to those from restaurant. Thank you for sharing the recipe plus all the extra tips.

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply October 2, 2017

      Hi Sue,

      Feel really happy that the biryani recipe works for you. I will sure put in the effort to have more quality recipe in future.

      KP Kwan

  • Mark

    Reply Reply October 11, 2017

    Hi kp

    When you say put a saucepan under the potdo you mean upside down. So the pot sits raised on the bottom of the pan.


    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply October 11, 2017

      Hi Mark,
      You can try both ways- upside down and the other way round. The problem that I faced was the heat of my stove is too high (even I set it at the minimum), and I just want the raise the pot of rice a little far from the heat.If you have a good stove that can adjust to very minimum temperature, you may not even need to do that at all.

      KP Kwan

  • Mark

    Reply Reply October 12, 2017

    Thank you very much kp

    • KP Kwan

      Reply Reply October 12, 2017

      You are welcome 🙂

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