Recipe: Chicken biryani (Indian chicken and rice)

For the longest time, I held an incorrect preconception that biryani is too difficult to bother with at home. However, once you get the hang of it, it is about as involved as making your own meat sauce and putting together a lasagna with it. I can honestly say that the most cumbersome part was making the trek out to Central Square to obtain Indian spices!

R is usually extremely disciplined about not taking second helpings, but today he specifically requested this for dinner and ate an unprecedented three servings. Try it for yourself!

Adapted from Cooking the Globe


Fried onions

  •  3 onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Chicken Marinade

  • 1 lbs boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 1 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 serrano chilis
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2″ piece of ginger
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 1.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric


  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken up
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bashed with a wooden spoon


  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • Plenty of salt

Finishing touches

  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp onion-infused oil (from your fried onions)
  • 3 tbsp water


  1. Marinate the chicken.
    1. Combine all marinade ingredients, except for chicken and greek yogurt, in a mini food processor, and process until minced fine.
    2. Mix into yogurt and add chicken.
    3. Marinate in the fridge for 3 hours.
  2. Soak the rice.
    1. Soak rice in a large bowl with plenty of water for about an hour.
  3. Make fried onions.
    1. Heat oil over medium heat in a saute pan, until the back of a wooden spoon dipped in the oil starts bubbling within three seconds.
    2. Fry onions until golden brown.
    3. Scoop out onions with slotted spoons onto a paper towel lined plate.
  4. Boil the rice. 
    1. Drain rice from its soaking water.
    2. Get a large pot of water boiling and add the rice. Be sure to salt water until it is as salty as ocean-water; otherwise, the biryani will be bland.
    3. Boil rice for 7 minutes and drain.
  5. Make a quick chicken curry.
    1. Use same pan that was used for the fried onions. Preserve all but 3 tbsp of onion-infused oil in a glass container.
    2. Toss in all spices in the curry ingredient list and cook for about a minute.
    3. Add chicken with all the marinade and allow to come to a simmer.
    4. Add tomatoes, and allow to come to a simmer and cook for about 13 minutes.
    5. Scoop out the chicken and cook down the gravy for about 7 minutes.
    6. Remove from heat and add chicken back in.
  6. Assemble and cook.
    1. Take a 3.5-quart dutch oven or similar heavy-bottomed, lidded cooking vessel. Add 2 tbsp of onion-infused oil and water at the bottom.
    2. Add 1/3 of the rice.
    3. Layer with 1/2 of the curry.
    4. Top with 1/2 of fried onions.
    5. Repeat steps 2-4.
    6. Finish layering with the rest of the rice. Drizzle melted butter on top.
    7. Place lid on top, and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes.
  7. Fluff the biryani and serve!




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