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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.

Unsurprisingly, people crave biryani rice, with a distinct flavor even for non-Indians. Cooking in dum style enables the aroma and flavor to be imbued into the rice grains, making every bite blissful.

Latest update: How to cook biryani rice – the easiest (and quickest method)
I have added this new section at the end of this article.  You can access it straight away by scrolling to the end of this article.
But I strongly suggest you read through the whole article and watch the embedded video (you can find it right before the recipe)

1. Chicken biryani, briyani or biriyani?

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

There are two ways to cook chicken biryani.

In kacchi biryani, the chef puts the marinated meat at the bottom of the pot. The rice is half-cooked in another pot, drained, and placed over the meat, alternated 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 leaves later. The Pakki method is easy to prepare, but the kacchi method produces a better result.

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biryani rice with chicken

2. How to cook chicken briyani at home with excellent results

Do not worry about the long list of ingredients. The seemingly 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.

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

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

3. 11 Tips to elevate your chicken biryani to the next level

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

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

chicken thigh meat

My preference is bone-in chicken thighs. You can use mutton or beef if you do not eat chicken. Cut the meat into large chunks with bone-on. The bone adds flavor to the rice while cooking, and it can make the rice much tastier than by using boneless meat.

2. Marinate the chicken overnight for the best result

marinate chicken biryani

The ingredients of the marinade differ slightly for different regions and countries. However, there is a similarity among all the versions. They all contain yogurt, lime or lemon juice, and 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, the spices require more time to penetrate the center. Long marinating time is necessary because a good chicken biryani should have flavorful meat for every bite, not just on the surface.

3. Use fresh herbs and spices

 fresh spices

You should use ground spices for a better marinating effect. Nowadays, many grocery shops provide ready-made ground spices. If you only get the spices in a whole piece (e.g., cumin seeds and coriander seeds), grind it with a spice herb grinder before using it.

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

I use a combination of coriander, cumin, turmeric, green cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. You can add star anise to the list if you like the taste. You may also include some garam masala to enhance the taste.

4. Plain yogurt is the best

yogurt for chicken biryani

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

5. Ghee is better than butter (for authenticity)

ghee for biryani rice

Ghee is purified butter, 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 in the future.

6. Do not oversight the importance of fried onion

fried onion for chicken biryani

Fried onion is an essential ingredient in preparing biryani. Slice the onion paper thin, and separate them by using your hand. Deep fry the onion slice in vegetable oil over low to medium heat. Stir the onions occasionally to ensure even browning until they turn 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.

7. Use coriander and mint leaves for the freshness

mint and coriander for chicken briyani

Coriander 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 to preserve the authenticity. Use either one of them if the other one is not available.

8. Never compromise long grain basmati rice with other substitutes

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

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

9. Cook the rice separately

pre-cook the rice

You 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 rice volume.

Add salt to the water in a large skillet, like cooking pasta. You can add some cloves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and bay leaf into the water to flavor the rice. 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 prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. You will notice that the rice grains slowly become larger and whiter, indicating the rice is cooking. You need to cook the rice until only half cooked, 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 the heat and drain it from the water. The half-cooked rice is ready to cook together with marinated chicken.

You may wonder why it is necessary to half-cook the rice. The par-boiled rice is laid on the chicken in the pot and cooked over very low heat. That means the chicken will get the heat from the stove earlier than the rice on top. Pre-cooked rice for three minutes will solve this problem, in which the chicken and the rice will reach the desired doneness simultaneously. This method also ensures you will get soft and fluffy rice.

biryani rice with butter chciken

10. 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 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 for cooking 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 biryani

The traditional method of cooking biryani is to put the pot on a tawa (a flat, dish-shaped 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 it is still too high, even if you have adjusted it to the minimum. You can also use a Dutch oven if you do not have a suitable pot.

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

Cook the chicken biryani over low flame 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 stand for another 10 minutes before serving.

11. Use saffron to improve the flavor and aroma


Saffron is an expensive herb that 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. 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 the saffron water onto the rice before covering the pot with the lid.

chicken rice
Chicken biryani recipe

Chicken biryani recipe

Yield: 3 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

This recipe is the biryani rice I use in my cafe, based on Hyderabad biryani with some Malaysian influence.


Ingredients to marinate the chicken

Ingredients to cook rice

  • 250 g basmati rice
  • 2 liters boiling water
  • 20 g salt



  • 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 leaves 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 it with chapati/bread dough.(Use a kitchen towel to seal if dough is not available)
  7. Cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
  8. Place the rice pot on top of a saucepan 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 Information:
Yield: 3 Serving Size: 3 servings
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 996Total Fat: 57gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 29gCholesterol: 233mgSodium: 4185mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 8gSugar: 11gProtein: 62g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix on 5/28/2019

4. How to cook biryani rice – the easiest (and quickest) way to prepare this Indian cuisine

The following is my short-cut method to prepare the delicious biryani rice. If you are looking for an easy way out, this is THE ONE recipe you should follow.

Note that this is NOT the traditional method but is a proven recipe endorsed by our customers.

I developed this recipe because our customers want us to serve the rice with beef rendang, curry, and butter chicken. This biryani rice enables us to match with any of this cuisine.

You need chicken stock since the rice is not cooked on the marinated chicken. We prepare our stock, but you can get the ready-made one. (For a vegetarian version, use vegetable stock and omit the meat to make vegetable biryani).

Here are the steps:

Step one:

Measure the following ingredients and put them into a pot. Mix all the ingredients with a spatula.

30 g butter
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped ginger
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 cloves
10 cardamom pods, crushed
100ml plain yogurt
250mll chicken stock

mix the spice
rice recipe

Step two

Prepare the rice just like the main recipe. Since no chicken is in the pot, you must mix the rice with all the ingredients.

easy biryani rice

Step three:

Place the fried shallot, mint leaves, and coriander leaves on the rice. Cook over low heat for 35 minutes. The exact time depends on the rice quantity, the pot’s distance from the flame, and the stove’s power. You can test the doneness by tasting it. If it is still too hard, cook another five to ten minutes over very low heat. The rice can burn quickly, so be patient.

easy biryani rice recipe


Monday 15th of May 2023

I am not understanding the part about placing a saucepan under pot. If it am using a heavy pot, how will a saucepan work ‘under’ it?

KP Kwan

Tuesday 16th of May 2023

Apologies for any confusion. What I intended was to place the rice pot on top of a saucepan. By doing so, the saucepan acts as a barrier between the bottom of the pot and the stove, effectively preventing the rice from burning too quickly.


Friday 14th of January 2022

nice recipe it was tasty. thank you


Saturday 29th of May 2021

Hello can we use equal quantity of rice and chicken. Actually what is the right propertion of chicken and rice. I am always confused.

KP Kwan

Saturday 29th of May 2021

I do not have a fixed proportion of chicken to rice. But, of course, it is more flavorful if you add more chicken. Use ready-make chicken broth to substitute part of the water to add flavor if you use less chicken.


Sunday 31st of January 2021

Great! I just finished it last night and the result was unexpected, my wife and daughter both liked it, which made me happy. Thanks for your recipe!

KP Kwan

Monday 1st of February 2021

Great to know that you and your family love it :)


Sunday 24th of January 2021

I have purchased some Sona Masoori rice and wish to use it in this recipe. You stated above very strongly to use Basmati. Do you really think the recipe will fail with Sona Masoori? I appreciate your help!

KP Kwan

Sunday 24th of January 2021

Hi Kat, You can use it for cooking biryani, although it may turn out slightly different in appearance. Sona masoori rice is medium-grain rice. Basmati is long and slender, and it has a better presentation. Basmati rice is also fluffier than other rice, which is ideal for biryani.

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