Chicken Biryani

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Chicken Biryani is a popular rice dish, where long grained Basmati rice is cooked with a variety of aromatic spices and some kind of meat, usually chicken, mutton or lamb. There are various versions of Biryani in South Asia depending on the region and the technique. Perfected by the cooks in the royal kitchens of different kingdoms across India, some of the most popular types of Biryani are from Delhi that has a Mughlai influence, from Lucknow with an Awadhi influence, from Kolkata which uses potatoes and less spices, and perhaps the most popular, Hyderabadi Biryani, from South India. Cooking biryani is no mean feat, and every region takes great pride in their version of this dish.

Traditionally, two different techniques are used in making biryani: kacchi or pakki. In kacchi (raw), raw marinated meat and rice are cooked together on a low flame and the pot is sealed with a flour dough so that the steam does not escape. This is also known as dum pukht, that is, baked or slow cooking. In pakki (cooked), the nearly cooked rice and meat is layered in a pot and covered on low flame for a few minutes. This is a faster version of making biryani and I mostly follow this method.

(A few years ago I had posted a recipe for Vegetable Biryani cooked in a pressure cooker. It does not do justice to what biryani is actually supposed to taste like. But when you don’t have the necessary ingredients at home, you can try it out once in a while.)

Nevertheless, biryani is not something that you can just decide to make; it requires planning, patience, time, a very long list of ingredients and multiple steps. Most of the ingredients are usually present in Indian households, or you can easily buy them from any Indian store. It is the combination of all the spices and careful techniques which leads to an explosion of flavors and aroma every time you have this delicious dish.

PS. I had some guests over last week and served Chicken Biryani with raita, shorba, boiled eggs, sliced onions and lemons. I adjusted the recipe a bit as I cooked 5.5 cups of rice and used 6 green chillies because everyone wanted it to be extra spicy!

chicken biryani

Ingredients and Method:

For Marination:

Boneless Chicken pieces: 1.5 kgs or around 3 pounds
Chopped garlic: 6 cloves
Chopped ginger: 1 inch-piece
Yogurt: 1 1/2 cups
Chopped fresh or dried mint leaves: 2 tbsp
Chopped coriander leaves: 2 tbsp
Kasuri Methi: 1 tbsp
Garam Masala: 1 tbsp
Salt: 1 tsp

Method:
1) Wash and cut the chicken into medium sized pieces. I have used boneless chicken, but you can use with bone too.
2) Mix the rest of the ingredients to make a thick marinade. Apply it all over the chicken pieces and coat them well. Cover and let it marinate in the fridge overnight, or at least 4 hours. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start cooking the biryani.

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For Biryani Masala:

Cloves: 10
Cinnamon stick: 2 inches
Black cardamom seeds: 3
Green cardamom seeds: 10
Whole black pepper: 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
Shah/Shahi Jeera or dark cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
Chilli flakes: 1 tsp
Mace: 1 inch piece

Method:

1) Grind all the ingredients into a coarse powder.

biryani
2) You can also use readymade Biryani Masala powder available in the market.

For Chicken Curry:

Marinated chicken pieces
Chopped onions: 3 large
Chopped garlic: 8 large pods
Chopped ginger: 1 inch piece
Cloves: 8
Cinnamon: ½ inch stick
Green cardamom: 6 pods
Black cardamom: 2 pods
Bay leaves: 2
Slit green chillies: 2
Coriander powder:  1 tsp
Red chilli powder: ½ tsp
Nutmeg powder: ¼ tsp
Refined oil: 1/4th cup
Salt to taste

Method:

1) Heat oil in a wok and fry the onions in medium to medium high heat till they become brown.

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Remove and blend this with a little water into a smooth paste.

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Also, blend ginger and garlic with a little water into a paste too. Keep aside.

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2) In the remaining oil, add whole cloves, cinnamon, green cardamoms, black cardamoms and bay leaf. Once the aroma is released, add the green chillies, coriander powder, red chilli powder, nutmeg powder and salt to taste.

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3) Now add the blended onion paste and the ginger-garlic paste and fry till the oil leaves the sides of the masala.

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Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook it with the spices. Cover for 15 minutes and stir occasionally. (At this stage you can start cooking the rice to save time; I have described the steps below.)

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4) Sprinkle around 2 tbsp of the biryani masala we had prepared earlier. You can store the rest if you have any extra. Let the spices coat the chicken pieces well and cook covered for another 10-15 minutes, or till nearly done Keep aside.

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For Rice:

Extra Long Grained Basmati Rice: 4 cups
Water: 8 cups
Salt: 1 tbsp
Ghee/clarified butter: 1 tbsp
Black cardamom: 2 pods
Green cardamom: 3 pods
Cloves: 8
Bay leaf: 1

1) Wash the rice gently and let it soak in lukewarm water for 30 minutes. The type and quality of the rice is extremely important, otherwise you will end up with soggy, starchy biryani. I use aged, extra long grained Basmati rice, which not only has a great texture, but also an aroma of its own that complements the spices in the dish.
2) Heat water in a large pan and add the rest of the ingredients. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the rice to it and cover. Let it cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, or till it is about 3/4th cooked.

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3) Drain the rice and spread it on a baking tray or any flat utensil. Cover and keep aside.

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Other Ingredients:

Shah/Shahi Jeera or dark cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
Ghee/clarified butter: 1 tbsp
Saffron strands: A small pinch
Milk: 1/4th cup
Water for sprinkling
Food coloring: Orange, yellow, red (optional)
Crispy, fried onions (optional)
Boiled eggs: 2 (optional)
Sliced onions and lemon (optional)

Method:

1) Melt clarified butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Sprinkle the shah jeera and let it splutter for a few seconds.

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2) Gently put a layer of cooked rice in the pan. Mix saffron strands in milk and pour some of it on the rice and also sprinkle a few drops of food coloring.

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3) Now add a layer of the chicken pieces and cover it with a layer of rice.

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Pour the saffron and food coloring over the rice again. If you have too much gravy left from the chicken, keep it aside and have it as shorba or a sauce with the biryani.
4) Sprinkle some water over the rice and cover with a heavy lid. Let it cook for about 10-15 minutes. Make sure that you don’t overcook the rice.

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5) Gently serve the biryani in a flat dish so that you don’t break the rice grains.

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Garnish with crispy fried onions, boiled eggs and sliced onions and lemon. Serve hot.

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Chicken Biryani
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Chicken Biryani is a popular rice dish, where long grained Basmati rice is cooked with a variety of aromatic spices and some kind of meat, usually chicken or lamb.
Author:
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
For Marination:
  • Boneless Chicken pieces: 1.5 kgs or around 3 pounds
  • Chopped garlic: 6 cloves
  • Chopped ginger: 1 inch-piece
  • Yogurt: 1½ cups
  • Chopped fresh or dried mint leaves: 2 tbsp
  • Chopped coriander leaves: 2 tbsp
  • Kasuri Methi: 1 tbsp
  • Garam Masala: 1 tbsp
  • Salt: 1 tsp
For Biryani Masala:
  • Cloves: 10
  • Cinnamon stick: 2 inches
  • Black cardamom seeds: 3
  • Green cardamom seeds: 10
  • Whole black pepper: 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Shah/Shahi Jeera or dark cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Chilli flakes: 1 tsp
  • Mace: 1 inch piece
For Chicken Curry:
  • Marinated chicken pieces
  • Chopped onions: 3 large
  • Chopped garlic: 8 large pods
  • Chopped ginger: 1 inch piece
  • Cloves: 8
  • Cinnamon: ½ inch stick
  • Green cardamom: 6 pods
  • Black cardamom: 2 pods
  • Bay leaves: 2
  • Slit green chillies: 2
  • Coriander powder: 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder: ½ tsp
  • Nutmeg powder: ¼ tsp
  • Refined oil: ¼th cup
  • Salt to taste
For Rice:
  • Extra Long Grained Basmati Rice: 4 cups
  • Water: 8 cups
  • Salt: 1 tbsp
  • Ghee/clarified butter: 1 tbsp
  • Black cardamom: 2 pods
  • Green cardamom: 3 pods
  • Cloves: 8
  • Bay leaf: 1
Other Ingredients:
  • Shah/Shahi Jeera or dark cumin seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Ghee/clarified butter: 1 tbsp
  • Saffron strands: A small pinch
  • Milk: ¼th cup
  • Water for sprinkling
  • Food coloring: Orange, yellow, red (optional)
  • Crispy, fried onions (optional)
  • Boiled eggs: 2 (optional)
  • Sliced onions and lemon (optional)
Method
For Marination:
  1. Wash and cut the chicken into medium sized pieces. I have used boneless chicken, but you can use with bone too.
  2. Mix the rest of the ingredients to make a thick marinade. Apply it all over the chicken pieces and coat them well. Cover and let it marinate in the fridge overnight, or at least 4 hours. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before you start cooking the biryani.
For Biryani Masala:
  1. Grind all the ingredients into a coarse powder.
  2. You can also use readymade Biryani Masala powder available in the market.
For Chicken Curry:
  1. Heat oil in a wok and fry the onions, garlic and ginger in medium to medium high heat till they become brown. Remove and blend this with a little water into a smooth paste. Keep aside.
  2. In the remaining oil, add whole cloves, cinnamon, green cardamoms, black cardamoms and bay leaf. Once the aroma is released, add the green chillies, coriander powder, red chilli powder, nutmeg powder and salt to taste.
  3. Now add the blended onion paste and fry till the oil leaves the sides of the masala. Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook it with the spices. Cover for 15 minutes and stir occasionally. (At this stage you can start cooking the rice to save time; I have described the steps below.)
  4. Sprinkle around 2 tbsp of the biryani masala we had prepared earlier. You can store the rest if you have any extra. Let the spices coat the chicken pieces well and cook covered for another 10-15 minutes, or till nearly done Keep aside.
For Rice:
  1. Wash the rice gently and let it soak in lukewarm water for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat water in a large pan and add the rest of the ingredients. When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the rice to it and cover. Let it cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, or till it is about ¾th cooked.
  3. Drain the rice and spread it on a baking tray or any flat utensil. Cover and keep aside.
Other Ingredients:
  1. Melt clarified butter in a large, heavy bottomed pan. Sprinkle the shah jeera and let it splutter for a few seconds.
  2. Gently put a layer of cooked rice in the pan. Mix saffron strands in milk and pour some of it on the rice and also sprinkle a few drops of food coloring.
  3. Now add a layer of the chicken pieces and cover it with a layer of rice. Pour the saffron and food coloring over the rice again. Repeat the process one last time so that you get two to three layers of rice and meat. If you have too much gravy left from the chicken, keep it aside and have it as shorba or a sauce with the biryani.
  4. Sprinkle some water over the rice and cover with a heavy lid. Let it cook for about 10-15 minutes. Make sure that you don't overcook the rice.
  5. Gently serve the biryani in a flat dish so that you don’t break the rice grains. Garnish with crispy fried onions, boiled eggs and sliced onions and lemon. Serve hot.
 

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Author: Meghalee Das (118 Posts)

Meghalee Das is a former journalist, who occasionally writes as a freelancer. She loves traveling, camping, hiking, kayaking, gardening and of course, cooking. Currently she is doing her MBA from Texas State University and updates her blog whenever she gets the time!


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