chicken biryani

Chicken biryani

A chicken biryani recipe made with tender chicken on bone, saffron, cashews and long grain basmati rice. So good!

  • Author: Saima Zaidi
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 60 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Cuisine: Indian



For the chicken gravy:

  • 400 grams chicken on the bone, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced fine
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, pureed
  • 2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt, slightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp Shan Sindhi Biryani Masala

 For the rice:

  • 500 grams basmati rice, washed and soaked for 15 minutes
  • 2 black cardamom
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  • 5-6 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 tbsp sea salt

 For the garnish:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced finely
  • 8-10 cashewnuts (optional)
  • 8-10 strands saffron dissolved in half a cup warm milk


The Chicken Gravy:

  • In a dutch oven or deep pan, fry the finely sliced onions in oil until reddish brown. Add cumin seeds and stir.
  • Add pureed onion, ginger-garlic paste, coriander and Kashmiri chilli powders, Shan Sindhi Biryani Masala. Cook this mixture for 5-7 minutes, adding yoghurt 1 tablespoon at a time in between. Keep stirring the masala throughout.
  • Add chicken and cook until the oil separates and the chicken is tender. Keep adding splashes of water to keep the gravy from burning (25-30 minutes). The gravy should be thick and shiny when the chicken is done, not watery.

The Rice:

  • While the chicken is cooking, take around 12 glasses of water in a large pot and set it on high heat. Add salt and whole spices.
  • When the water starts boiling, add rice and cook until the rice is 80% done (al dente).
  • Drain the rice in a colander and discard the water and whole spices.

Assembling the chicken and rice for biryani:

  • In a heavy-bottomed, deep and wide pot (it could be the same one in which you boiled the rice), spread half the rice at the bottom. Then, spread the cooked chicken in a layer above the rice and top with the remaining rice.

The Garnish:

  • Fry cashews (if using) in oil until light brown and add them to the biryani. Reserve the oil.
  • Fry onions in the same oil as above until they are reddish-brown and pour immediately over the biryani.
  • Pour the saffron-infused milk over the biryani.
  • Sprinkle the food colour on top of the rice, if using.
  • Cover the pot with a lid and set it on the lowest heat possible for 15-20 minutes.
  • Take off the lid and with the help of a wide spoon, gently mix the rice and meat together. Your chicken biryani is ready to be served now!


  • Shan Sindhi Biryani Masala and Tilda rice (no affiliate links) are available at any Indian or Pakistani grocery shop or the international aisle of major supermarket chain like Walmart. If you can't find Shan, any biryani masala will do. I have a personal preference for Shan.
  • It is important to assemble the biryani in a large enough pot as mentioned earlier in step 7 above because the rice needs space to bloom. If the pot is smallish and the rice and chicken are crammed in, the rice will break and the biryani will look smushed.
  • If you don't want to go to the trouble of removing the whole spices from the cooked rice by hand (step 6), take the spices in a square piece of cheesecloth and tie the ends firmly. Immerse this bag in the pot of water at the same time as you add salt. Simply remove the bag once the rice is done and ready to be layered. The rice would have absorbed the flavours of the spices just as well.
  • Serve the biryani with raita (cold yoghurt with dry roasted and ground cumin and salt) for a truly lip-smacking combo!