Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chicken Biryani

I love trying new foods and new cuisines and so am always on the lookout for something new and delicious to experiment with. However, I admit that a lot of the time I find something I want to try, but then never get around to making it. Most of the time it is because I don't have a lot of the ingredients on hand and I don't feel like going out and searching for them, and spending more money than I (as a poor graduate student) want to. Recently though, my sister Lara came across this recipe for Chicken Biryani and decided that we were just going to try it. We decided to go out and buy what we needed, regardless of what that was.

Putting this dish together, I had no idea what to expect. The combination of spices and the cooking method was unique to me. It isn't a difficult recipe, but it does have multiple steps and took a good couple of hours to complete. The end result however was totally worth it. The combination of flavors and textures was completely delicious, I couldn't get enough. A wonderful mixture of warm spices coats the chicken which is layered with a sweet and spicy caramelized onions and serrano chiles mixture, seasoned again with some of the same spices as is on the chicken. Layers of seasoned rice complete the dish along with fresh cilantro and mint.

I've posted the original recipe below, but I had to make a few changes when I made it. I used ground cardamom and cinnamon because that's what I had, and I added it directly to the rice after cooking. Maybe not authentic, but still delicious. I also didn't have a tall pot, so I used my cast iron skillet and it worked just fine. I absolutely loved how this recipe turned out and will definitely make it again!

Onions chopped, and spice paste made

My first time using serrano chiles

Chop them up

And some cilantro

Paste for the chicken, yum!

Rub it all over the chicken

Start cooking that chicken

A beautiful brown crust

Ready for the rest of the dish

Take out the chicken and throw the onions into the skillet

Cook them until they are nice and caramelized

Add the chiles

Then it's time for the spices

Remove the onion mixture and start layering;
Layer #1: Rice

Add some cilantro and mint (I didn't splurge for 
the saffron)

Next is the onion mixture

Time for the chicken

Followed by more onions

Then the rest of the rice

Finally, the last of the cilantro and mint.
Cover and cook until the rice and chicken are finished.

This picture doesn't do it justice so just 
trust me, it's delicious!

Chicken Biryani
 From No Recipes
  • 4-5 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs 
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder (or 1 teaspoon grated ginger) 
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 3 quarts water 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 10 green cardamom pods, crushed 
  • 1 cinnamon stick 
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 medium onions sliced thin 
  • 2 serrano chiles minced (remove the seeds and membranes if you want it less spicy) 
  • 1 clove garlic minced 
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
For Assembly
  • 1 cup + 3 tablespoons water the rice was boiled in 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro minced 
  • 2 tablespoons mint minced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron (optional) 
Wash the chicken, pat dry and trim any excess fat or skin off the chicken. Mash together the garlic, salt, ginger, garam masala, black pepper and oil to make a paste. Coat all the pieces of chicken rubbing into all the crevices.

In a tall deep pot, add the water, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and bay leaf, cover then bring to a simmer on medium low heat.

Meanwhile, heat a large heavy bottomed frying pan over medium high heat until hot. Add a small splash of oil coating the bottom of the pan then add the chicken skin side down. Fry undisturbed until the chicken is nice and brown on that side (about 3 minutes). Flip the chicken then brown on the other side.

Transfer the chicken to a plate, turn down the heat to medium low then add the onions to the pan. Fry the onions, scrapping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan until the onions are fully caramelized (about 20 minutes). Add the chiles, garlic, garam masala, ginger, and salt and continue to cook until the garlic and spices are fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.

Turn the heat on the water up and bring to a boil. Add the rice, cover, then turn the heat back down to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain the rice reserving 1 C + 3 Tbs of liquid.

To assemble the biryani, put half the rice back into the tall pot. Sprinkle half the saffron over the rice followed by half the cilantro and mint. Spread half the onion mixture over this then lay the chicken pieces on top. Cover with the rest of the onions then the rest of the rice. Top with the rest of the saffron, cilantro and mint. Pour the reserved liquid from the rice into the pan you fried the onions in scraping up any residual browned bits of onion then dump this on top of the rice.

Cover then cook the biryani over medium low heat for 20-30 minutes or until most of the water has evaporated and the chicken is cooked.


  1. I like the different spices you've used here. Some of them I've never tasted before. Let's try it soon!

  2. Looks yumbo to me. Pops might have to give this one a try.

  3. The crust on that chicken looks bananas. Looks great!!

  4. Hey Jana!! This looks delicious! I love a good plate of biryani rice... will check on your recipe if I have those ingredients on hand! :)