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 biryani rice, with a distinct flavor even for non-Indians. The process of cooking in dum style enables the aroma and flavor to imbue into the rice grains, which makes 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 with an origin in the Indian subcontinent. The ingredients vary but always include meat (chicken, mutton, or beef), a mixture of 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.
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 patients 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 take note of 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)
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
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 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, 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 spices that are aromatic
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.
4. Plain yogurt is the best
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 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 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 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.
7. Use coriander and mint leaves for the freshness
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 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
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 volume of the rice.
Add some salt to the water, much like cooking pasta. You can also add some cloves, cinnamon stick, 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 prevent 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 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 away 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 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 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.
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
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 the 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 stands 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.
Ingredients to marinate the chicken
- 30 g ghee
- 200 g onion
- 500 g chicken, bone-in
- 4 cloves garlic, , chopped
- 1 teaspoons ginger, , chopped
- 7 g ground coriander
- 7 g ground cumin
- 1 g chili powder
- 8 g ground turmeric
- 12 green cardamom pods
- 6 pieces cloves
- 2 pieces bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 140 g plain yogurt
- 1 teaspoon 5g of salt
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 green chili
- 1 small bunch of coriander leaf
- 1 small bunch of mint leaf
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
- Cut the chicken into large chunks, bone-in, skin on.
- Cut the onion into thin slices. Deep fried in oil over low to medium heat until the onion is caramelized and turn golden brown.
- Mix half of the fried onion, coriander and mint leaves with the rest of the ingredients for marination.
- Keep the marinated chicken in the refrigerator overnight.
Cook the rice
- Soak the basmati rice in water for 45 minutes. Drained.
- Bring the water to a boil. Add some salt.
- Add the basmati rice.
- Cook over medium to high heat for three minutes. Keep stirring.
- Remove the rice when the rice grain can be broken into 2-3 parts
- Place the marinated chicken in a heavy bottom pot.
- Spread half of the rice on it.
- Spread half of the remaining fried onions, coriander, and mint leaves on the rice.
- Layer the remaining rice on the fried onion, coriander, and mint leaves.
- Add some ghee.
- Close the lid and seal it with chapati/bread dough.(Use a kitchen towel to seal if dough is not available)
- Cook over low heat for 20 minutes.
- Place the rice pot on top of a saucepan and cook the rice over very low heat for another 30 minutes.
- Open the lid.
- Remove the chapati dough
- Garnish with more coriander, mint leaves, fried onions and cashew nuts
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
GreenPan Rio 5QT Ceramic Non-Stick Covered Skillet with Helper Handle, Black - CW000058-003
OMorc 2" Spice Herb Grinder 4 Piece Set-Black
Original Grass-Fed Ghee by 4th & Heart, 16 Ounce, Pasture Raised, Non-GMO, Lactose Free, Certified Paleo, Keto-Friendly
Veetee Dine In Rice - Microwavable Basmati Rice - 9.9 oz - Pack of 6
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
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 develop this recipe because our customers want us to serve the rice with beef rendang, curry chicken, and butter chicken. This biryani rice enables us to match with anyone 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.
Here are the steps:
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
10 cardamom pods, crushed
100ml plain yogurt
250mll chicken stock
Prepare the rice just like the main recipe. Since there is no chicken in the pot, you must mix the rice with all the ingredients.
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.