Authentic Chicken Biryani


For the Chicken:

  • 1 pound chicken drums or thighs
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Spices: 1 tsp each of garam masala, ground coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, Kashmiri chili powder, and 1/4 tsp turmeric

Homemade Biryani Spice Mix:

  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 7 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes

The Rest:

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 2 shallots, sliced and tossed in flour, then fried for crispy topping
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Serrano chili peppers, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • A handful of fresh cilantro and mint, chopped
  • 1 cup water

For the Saffron Water:

  • Warm water
  • A dollop of ghee
  • A squeeze of lemon juice
  • A pinch of saffron strands


  1. Rinse the basmati rice until the water runs clear and soak for 30 minutes.
  2. In a large pot, bring water to boil for the rice. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, and a few cardamom pods to infuse the water.
  3. Heat ghee and olive oil in a separate pan, and sauté the onions until golden brown. Reserve half for topping.
  4. In a bowl, combine the chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper, yogurt, lemon juice, and the ground spices.
  5. In the same pan used for onions, add the chicken mixture. Brown the chicken, then add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and water to form a gravy. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Parboil the rice for 2-3 minutes, then layer half of it over the chicken in the pan. Sprinkle with cilantro, mint, chilies, and some of the crispy onions.
  7. Repeat the layering with the remaining chicken and rice.
  8. Mix the saffron water ingredients until golden and drizzle over the top layer of rice.
  9. Cover the pan and cook on low heat for 10 minutes until the rice is fluffy.

To Serve:

  • Garnish with the remaining crispy onions and fresh herbs. Serve hot and enjoy the layers of flavors in this beloved dish.

This Chicken Biryani recipe is a true testament to the rich culinary heritage of Indian cuisine, offering a complex tapestry of flavors in a single dish. The perfect blend of spices, tender chicken, and fragrant rice make for an unforgettable meal.

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