Chicken Biryani / Slow cooked Rice with Chicken and Indian spices

CHICKEN BIRYANI ~ Chicken cooked with rice and spices

Chicken biryani needs very little introduction – this hearty dish brings together flavorful Basmati rice with the juicy pieces of chicken spiced with all those famously delicious ingredients from the sub-continent like cloves, coriander, cardamoms, cinnamon, mint and many others! Well, you get the picture 🙂 My love affair with this hearty Indian specialty began a long time ago, when mom used to serve up biryani every Sunday for lunch along with the simple raita that is the perfect accompaniment to this feisty rice entrée.

Here is my very own tried-and-tested version of the dish that has never failed to impress and is simple enough even for beginners to make on their own.

And a picture from my point-and-shoot almost 2 years ago, for old times’ sake!

Source: My own!

Serves: 4

Cooking Time: 15 minutes prep + (1+ hours marination) + 50 minutes cooking


  1. 1 medium chicken (skinless, cut into small-medium size pieces) – approx. 2 lbs or 1 kg
  2. Rice (Basmati or Jeera samba preferred) – 1.5 cups, soaked for 30 minutes in 3 cups water (typically 1:2 rice: water proportion or adjust according to the rice variety you are using)
  3. Onions – 2-3 large, thinly-sliced (more onions means less water later)
  4. Tomatoes – 1 or 2 medium, chopped (optional)
  5. Green chilies – 14 regular sized or to taste, sliced (I add 6-8 chilies per cup of rice and it is usually on the spicier side)
  6. Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  7. Cloves – 3 or 4
  8. Cinnamon – 3 sticks of about 1 or 2 inches each
  9. Bay leaves – 2
  10. Cardamoms – 2
  11. Salt – to taste
  12. Lemon – 1 or to taste
  13. Oil / ghee – 2 tbsp
  14. Coriander and mint leaves for garnishing the rice – a handful of each, chopped
  15. Curry leaves – a few leaves for flavor (optional)
For the marinade:
  1. Plain yogurt – 1/2 cup
  2. Salt – to taste
  3. Turmeric – 1 tsp
  4. Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp or to taste
  5. Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
  6. Garam masala -1/2 tsp
  7. Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
  8. Pepper powder – 1/2 tsp

Pre-preparation / Marination:

  1. Marinate the chicken in the ingredients listed under “For the marinade” at least for an hour (Tip: If you are short of time even 30 minutes will do, especially if the chicken if fresh and tender. Personally I’ve found that marinating overnight or 5-6 hours helps the chicken taste yummy all the way to the bone).


Making the base masala:
  1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan or pressure cooker (Tip: Adding some ghee enhances the flavor).
  2. Add the whole garam masala spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns) and saute for a few seconds taking care not to burn them.
  3. Add the sliced onions and cook until they begin to brown and are well done, along with some salt to help speed-up the cooking process. This step is very important and it is essential to get the onions to be brown all over. It takes 10 – 15 minutes to get that to happen.
  4. Add the ginger garlic paste and sliced green chilies and cook for a couple of minutes until they lose the raw flavor.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and saute until done.

Cooking the chicken:
  1. Add the chicken along with the marinade mix and mix well and saute for a few minutes until fully mixed together.
  2. Close the pan and allow the chicken to cook on medium heat stirring occasionally until the juices are released and the meat is tender. If using a pressure cooker, cook for 1 or 2 whistles. If using a kadai or pot, it takes approx. 30 minutes on med-high to be fully cooked.

Cooking the rice:

Similar to mushroom biryani
Important: Rice needs just as much water as is left behind in the soaking bowl, so the key is to minus the quantity of water already in the chicken masala and add only what is needed as extra
  1. First add the rice, without the water, to the chicken masala. Retain the water in the soaking bowl.
  2. Add the mint, coriander leaves and lemon juice to the mixture and stir everything together.
  3. Eyeball the chicken mixture to see how much water is already in there. Usually, I seem to not need additional water, except maybe a 1/4 cup at the most as there is a lot of moisture from the chicken, onions, tomatoes and other stuff already in the masala/gravy.
  4. If the mixture seems to have less water/liquid than there in left behind in the rice’s soaking bowl, then add water from the soaking bowl as needed.
  5. Mix well and check for salt or lemon juice and add as needed. Cook with lid on. If using a pressure cooker, do not use the gasket and pressure pin, just use the lid to cover.
  6. Stage 1: Cook on med-high, bring to a boil and cook until most of the excess water has been absorbed. Stir once in between.
  7. Stage 2: Reduce heat to med, continue to cook for 10 minutes until rice is mostly cooked (90%) but a little soggy.
  8. Stage 3: Reduce heat to low, cook for 5 to 10 minutes until fully done. At this stage you can place the pot on top of a tava/girdle to provide indirect heat (cooking on dum) and prevent burning of the bottom-layer.
  9. Turn off the heat. Wait for 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to settle in and then serve.

Your perfectly flavorful chicken biryani is ready. Is your raita done? Bring them together and enjoy the meal!

  1. You can add boiled eggs to the rice during the stage 1 of rice cooking, optionally.
  2. I sometimes use a tbsp of  MDH Tandoori Barbecue masala instead of the dry spices (coriander, cumin) in the marination. It gives a nice flavor to the dish.
  3. Be prepared to chop a lot of onions and green chilies!

5 Responses to “Chicken Biryani / Slow cooked Rice with Chicken and Indian spices”
  1. PoppyBhavan says:

    Appa’s favorite.Soooo Tempting.

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