This dish is mainly prepared for important occasions, and is truly fit for royalty. Every cook in India has a subtle
variation which is kept a closely guarded secret.
Preparation time: 1 hour
- Chicken breast fillet – 750 gm skinned and cut into medium pieces.
- Biriyani Masala – 4 teaspoon (Red Chilli, Coriander Seeds, Cumin Seeds, Black Pepper, Clove, Cardamoms, Star
Anise, Cinnamon, Bay Leaves, Mace and dried Mango ground together in equal proportions.)
- Green chillies, chopped – 2
- Ginger paste – 2 teaspoon
- Garlic paste – 2 teaspoon
- Coriander, freshly chopped – 1 small bunch.
- Mint leaves, finely chopped – 8 (this can be substituted with 1 teaspoon mint sauce.)
- Natural plain yoghurt, beaten – 150 ml
- Tomato puree – 2 teaspoon
- Salt – 4 teaspoon or to taste.
- Water – 75 ml (1/2 cup)
- Vegetable oil, for shallow frying – 50 ml
- Onions, chopped into long thin slices – 4 large
- Potatoes, peeled and quartered – 4 large
- Cashew nuts – 50 gm (1/3 cup)
- Sultanas (golden raisins) – 50 gm (1/3 cup)
- Basmati rice, washed and soaked for 5-6 hours – 3 cups
- Ghee or unsalted (sweet) butter – 6 tablespoon
- Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Bay leaves – 4
- Cardamom pods – 4
- Cinnamon stick, 5 cm 2 inches long – 2
- Red chillies – 6
- Yellow food colour – few drops (Optional)
- Milk – 4 tablespoon
- Saffron – 12 strands
- Mix the chicken pieces with the first nine ingredients (i.e. biriyani masala, green chillies, ginger and garlic paste,
fresh coriander, mint leaves, yoghurt, tomato puree, 2 teaspoon salt) in a large bowl and marinate in a cool place for
at least 3-4 hours.
- Heat oil for shallow frying. Fry the onions in oil until they are light brown and set aside in a bowl. Fry the potatoes
until they are evenly browned on all sides. Drain the excess oil and set aside. Fry the cashew nuts and sultanas
(golden raisins) and keep aside in a separate bowl. These will be used for garnishing. Do not drain off the excess oil.
- Boil a large pan of water and add 2 teaspoon of salt to it. Cook the soaked rice for 5 minutes or until it is half
cooked. Keep stirring it to ensure it does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain off the excess water and spread
evenly on an oven proof dish.
- Add 2-3 drops of yellow food colouring randomly over the surface of the rice. Add saffron strands to milk and
warm for 30 seconds. Make random holes and sprinkle this on the rice. Spread 2 tablespoon of ghee on the surface.
- Transfer the rice to a pre-heated oven at 160º C and cook for 10-12 minutes. This finishes cooking the rice and also
allows the food colouring to ‘set’. Take the rice out from the oven. Give it a stir with a fork and see the rice turn
- Heat oil and add 4 tablespoon of ghee to it. Add the cumin seeds, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, red
chillies and fry for 30 seconds. Add the marinated chicken, the fried potato and fry it together.
- Cover with a lid and keep stirring occasionally to avoid burning for 5 minutes. Add half a cup of water now
allowing the chicken and potato to cook for another 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and keep aside.
- Spread the cooked chicken evenly over the rice. Garnish with the fried onions, cashew nuts, sultanas and serve hot.
You can layer the rice with the cooked chicken. Add one layer of rice followed by chicken, fried onions, cashew
nuts, raisin and repeat the same layer again. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes at 160º C. You can substitute chicken
with lamb, mutton, beef, prawns or vegetables.
Biriyani involves a lot of steps and is a time-consuming dish. To make it easier, cook it over two days by doing
some of the preparation in advance!