Chicken Biryani - Feastful Fork
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Super Easy Delish Chicken Biryani

What is chicken biryani

Chicken biryani, or any other biryani, is a dish from South Asia, mostly associated with India and Pakistan. Quite a lot would say it is an Indian dish; however, the origin of biryani is uncertain.  Wikipedia: the word “biryani” is an Urdu word derived from the Persian language, which was used as an official language in different parts of medieval India, by various Islamic dynasties. One theory is that it originates from “birinj”, the Persian word for rice. Another theory is that it derives from “biryan” or “beriyan” (to fry or roast).

Chicken biryani is a flavorful meat and rice dish made from spiced chicken, fried onions, cilantro, and lightly seasoned basmati rice. The pot is covered, and the rice and chicken are cooked over low to medium heat for about 25 minutes, allowing the rice to absorb all the flavors from the curry while maintaining a light texture. Cooking chicken biryani is a labor of love, and the deliciousness you get in return makes it worth the effort. When you lift the lid after cooking, you are greeted with an amazing sight that will make your mouth water! But that moment pales in comparison to when you dig deep into the pot and get a whiff of all those delicious aromas from the curry buried deep under the rice.

I have tasted biryani many times over from its various versions and from different renditions in different restaurants, friends’ houses, you name it!  Gosh, I so love biryani, I am shameless. Understandably so, I  now cook them in my kitchen. I also have created for you the downloadable book, or a flipbook of 12 biryani recipes from My Mothers’ Kitchens.

I am sharing with you in this post my main chicken biryani recipe.

Ingredients and spices for chicken biryani

From just the mention of the word biryani, my brain produces images of five sets of ingredients. They are the meat (chicken for this recipe), grain rice, marinate, spices, and garnishing. A good fresh whole chicken that weighs no less than a kilo is basic for me. This will serve 4-5 people.

Rice is basmati or any other long-grained rice. As the rice will be cooked separately, we would need cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon bark, and bay leaves.

Here is the more interesting part – the spices. I love the smell of these spices on their own and when mixed to flavor this biryani dish. The mere thought of it gives me the inspiration to stay in the kitchen and look forward to getting the smell of spices onto my apron, my shirt, and everywhere.

  • fresh green chili pepper or chili powder
  • ground coriander
  • ground cumin
  • ground turmeric
  • black pepper (optional)

Other ingredients, including garnishing

  • yogurt
  • vinegar
  • sliced onions
  • cinnamon sticks
  • cardamom pods
  • chicken stock or water
  • frozen peas (optional)
  • currants (optional)
  • tomatoes
  • pinch of salt
  • slivered almonds (toasted)
  • fresh cilantro leaves

Garam masala for biryani

Most biryanis call for garam masala as its main spice; in such cases, it refers to the same mixture of the spices above – either in their natural form or powder form – pre-prepared for easier use. I sometimes use garam masala in my biryani dishes as it is easier to deal with. However, this version is close to making the dish from scratch. The resulting taste of this version is my favorite. I do not find this any harder than the other ones; it is simply a different way of doing it. What I truly love in this recipe here is the low salt.

How to cook chicken biryani

There are two ways to cook biryani. Look up my explanation in this post. However, basically, they are 1) cooking the rice and meat separately and 2) cooking rice and meat together. We are doing the former in this recipe. Below are the major steps in cooking this chicken biryani:

  1. Mix chicken spices with pre-cut chicken. I usually make 10 cuts from a whole chicken. Refrigerate for at least one hour – overnight is best.
  2. Wash rice, cover with water and let stand for 20-30 minutes. Boil and drain.
  3. Cook chicken with the rest of the spices. When done, add rice and mix.
  4. Cover and cook further for at least 25 minutes.
  5. Garnish.


How to boil rice for biryani

Boiling rice for biryani is an important step in the preparation of this delicious dish. To ensure that your biryani turns out perfectly, it is essential to get the rice right. Here are the steps and a few tips on how to boil rice for biryani.

  1. Start by washing the rice thoroughly in cold water until the water runs clear. This will help remove any dirt or impurities from the rice.
  2. Once the rice is washed, place it in a pot and add enough water to cover it by about an inch. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is half done. When pinched between your fingers, the rice should feel like it needed a couple more minutes to be fully cooked. This is perfect.
  3. Drain the rice in a colander to remove excess water and set aside.


How to fry onions for biryani

Slice the onions into thin uniform slices. Thin cuts of onions cook faster and become crispier faster. The uniform cut ensures that the onions cook at the same time. Cover the sliced onions with milk for about 10 minutes then drain. Heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add the sliced onions to the pan. Fry the onions until they are golden brown, stirring occasionally to prevent them from burning. Drain on paper towels.

Storing leftover biryani

Leftover biryani can be stored in a container with a tight-fitting lid in the fridge and consumed within 4-5 days. You can place the same container in the freezer and the dish can last up to a month. There are two ways to reheat leftover biryani:

  1. on the stove on low-medium fire for about 15 minutes, stir once, and leave for another 15 minutes.
  2. in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 25 minutes.


Cooking tips

  • Check the list of spices in the garam masala you are buying, if you were to use this option.
  • To achieve fluffy rice, cook it halfway, and drain. Do not wait until the rice is cooked before draining as it could become wet and too soft for the dish.
  • The absorption of spices in this recipe mostly comes from the length of marinating time. Also, depends on the chicken pieces. Smaller pieces tend to absorb more of the spices. Chicken thighs also seem to absorb more flavor.
  • Adding whole peeled potatoes and boiled eggs is a good option.
  • Use a flat griddle under the cooking pot, rather than direct heat, to avoid burning the bottom of the dish. This is best if your lowest heat is not dependable, i.e., you are not sure if it is low enough, it could be just medium heat.
  • As you cook this dish repeatedly, you may decide on your cooking time to achieve uniformity or, on the other hand, the choice of rice versus chicken results.
  • If you want to achieve some variation in the color of the rice, you can a pinch of food coloring at the end of the cooking. I use yellow, orange and red.
  • You can serve the dish with lemon wedges for an additional ting, and quartered yellow onions.


Enjoy this recipe, it is one of my family’s favorites!


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Chicken Biryani - Feastful Fork

Super Easy and Delish Chicken Biryani

  • Author: Magida
  • Yield: 4 1x


super easy to cook and delicious chicken biryani


  • 1 kg chicken (cut up)
  • 2 small fresh green chilies (finely chopped)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup yogurt
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp ghee (you can use cooking oil instead)
  • 2 large onions (sliced)
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cardamom pods (bruised)
  • ¼ cup chicken stock or water
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas (optional)
  • 1/3 cup currants (optional)
  • 2 large tomatoes (quartered, seeded, sliced)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (toasted)
  • ¼ cup fresh coriander leaves


  1. Combine chicken, chilies, ground spices, vinegar and yogurt in medium bowl. (Do not add salt here yet if you are using salt). Cover, refrigerate for at least 1 hour; overnight is best.
  2. Place rice in medium bowl, cover with water. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain well.
  3. Heat ghee in a large pan, cook onions, cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods, stirring, until onions are lightly browned.
  4. Add chicken mixture, chicken stock and salt (if using). Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour or until chicken is tender.
  5. Stir rice into chicken mixture. Let boil, then simmer, covered, stirring very occasionally (if at all), for 10 minutes or until rice is just tender.
  6. Discard cinnamon sticks. Stir in peas, currants, and tomatoes, leave covered for another 10 minutes.
  7. Just before serving, stir in nuts and coriander leaves.

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