Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani

I’ve said it many times before and I’ll say it again, I love India. I’ve never actually been there but my mind has been taken away on a Turmeric flavoured cloud many times in my life. I love the vibrant colours, the intense aroma’s and the beautiful Sari’s. I would easily walk around in a blinged-out Sari with jewels dripping off of me everyday.

I wouldn’t say Indian cuisine is my absolute favourite but it’s definitely in my top 3. There is just nothing like walking into a kitchen where a pot of curry is on the stove. The smell is intoxicating and I am almost always reduced to a puddle of drool by it. And any dish you add a pinch of Turmeric or Garam Masala to, just transforms into something magical.

Chicken Biryani

During Winter, curry, in any shape or form is on our menu at least twice a week, but during the hotter Summer months when a blow-your-head-off curry just seems too unbearable to handle, I still need my spicy fix, so I often revert to Biryani. I have an intense love of anything Lamb but Chicken is a close second. Not only is it cheaper but it also requires less cooking time which means the Biryani gets to be eaten sooner.

Chicken Biryani

I take a lot of short-cuts with my Biryani and food-purists might get upset at my ways, but I just cannot stand infront of a hot stove for hours on a hot day. It’s just not going to happen. So I try to take shortcuts wherever I can without compromising the flavour of the end product. One of these shortcuts is the use of spices in two forms. I use a mild curry paste packed with coriander, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, ginger and onions, and then I also use all of the above in it’s original or ground form. I know it sounds like that would result in a ‘too-spicy’ curry, but I assure you it works. Especially because the actual chicken curry is layered with Jasmine rice and fried potatoes. If you don’t have all the spices in your pantry and you don’t want to buy all of them, just omit them and use a good quality curry paste and curry powder/garam masala.

Chicken Biryani

And under no circumstances are you allowed to serve this without the Buttermilk Raita. It compliments the Biryani perfectly and without it, even though still delicious, the Biryani tends to be a bit dry.

Serves 6-8

2kg chicken breasts, skin removed and deboned
2 onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2cm piece fresh ginger, grated
2tbsn curry paste (I use a mild one) – optional
2tsp each ground coriander, ground turmeric and ground cumin
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
2tbsn hot garam masala (I use the mother-in-law spice you find at most spice shops)
2 bay leaves
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1tsp sugar
2 cups chicken stock
salt to taste

4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
oil for frying

3 cups Jasmine/ Basmati rice, cooked (I cook mine in the microwave oven with 1tbsn turmeric and salt)
1 cup chicken stock

Buttermilk Raita :

1 cup Buttermilk
1tsp Ground Cumin
1 ½ tsp Ground Coriander
½ tsp Turmeric
½ tsp Chilli powder
1tbsn lemon juice
1 tsp Salt

  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°c.
  • Heat 3tbsn oil in a large pot.
  • Cut the chicken breasts into large chunks and fry in the oil until they start to brown. Remove and set aside.
  • Fry the onions, garlic and ginger for 2 minutes before adding the curry paste and spices. Allow to fry for another minute and add the chicken back into the pot.
  • Stir to coat the chicken in all the spices and add the tomatoes, sugar and chicken stock.
  • Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a large frying pan and fry the potatoes until golden and crisp. Season with salt and set aside.
  • To assemble the dish, layer a 1/3 of the rice at the bottom of  a greased oven-proof dish. Next, cover the rice with the chicken curry but reserve some of the sauce. Follow with the rest of the rice and spoon over the remaining sauce. Finally, cover the rice with the fried potatoes. Pour over the chicken stock and cover with foil (or a lid if your oven-dish has one).
  • Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  • To make the raita, simply combine all the ingredients.
  • Serve the Biryani with the Buttermilk Raita and fresh Coriander leaves.

If you like this dish,  try the Lamb Biryani

Simply Delicious Recipe Ebook
Alida Ryder
Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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  • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

    Really? It’s not hard to believe though, who doesn’t love Chicken Biryani?

  • http://willworkforbiltong.blogspot.com/ Adele

    Beautiful, but I’ll have to save it for when the temperature drops to below 40 degrees here in Melbourne. We’re on salads at the moment (and I don’t even like salad!)

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Adele, Oh goodness! I can’t imagine it being that hot! We have been having temps of max 35 so far but in the Cape it’s been much hotter!

  • http://www.foodandthefabulous.com Ishay

    Hello. I’m all for shortcuts myself…these are the flavours I grew up with and I too can not conceive of slaving in the kitchen on a hot summer’s day for hours on end…I suspect the blinged out Bollywood version of our reality is a tad different, right? ;-)
    Roasting the taters makes it easier (no hot oil and frying), but is a longer method. My Mum always roasted, so that’s what I do. Thanks for the recipe!

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Thanx for the idea Ishay. :) I got this recipe from a dear friend of mine who’s mother fries the potatoes but I’ll definitely give the roasting a try. :)

  • Tess

    Have been planning to make chicken biryani this weekend. My recipe is for “green” chicken biryani, similar to yours but with added coriander, basil, mint and tarragon…..Will let you know how it turns out! If not good, I’ll come back to your recipe! ;)

  • http://www.chocswirl.wordpress.com Robyn

    Yep, Cape Town is cooking. I’ll have to save this for winter! It looks awesome!

  • http://www.thecreativepot.net Marisa

    Okay the food looks great, but I honestly can’t take my eyes off of those pretty spoons!

    Signed,
    A fellow Indian food lover

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Marisa, lol! They’re actually forks. We got them as a gift AGES ago from family who bought them at Mr P home. Not one fork or knife matches so I always have something different to photograph. :)

  • Barry

    What oven temperature?

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Barry : Thanx for notifying me that I forgot to add the temperature. It should be between 160 and 170deg. :)

  • Lisa

    thanks – this looks like a nice and easy recipe for some YUMMY biryani!

  • http://www.closetcooking.com Kevin (Closet Cooking)

    That chicken biryani looks so good!

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Kevin : Thanx so much! :)

  • anjelina

    I luv the taste of Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani, its awesome and exotic.

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Anjelina : Me too! I just LOVE Biryani!

  • Amber Dextrous

    Ok so i’m a bit exasperated with this recipe, It says to add the chicken stock with the tomatoes and sugar which is what I did, but then it says to pour over the chicken stock once it’s all in the dish!? So which one should it be? (unfortunately mine is now in the oven so fingers crossed it was the former and not the latter).

    • http://www.simply-delicious-food.com Ally_R

      Amber, as you’ll see in the ingredients list, there are 2 different quantities for chicken stock. You add the first quantity (2 cups) to the chicken mixture as it cooks. The second quantity (1 cup) you pour over the Biryani before it bakes. I hope this clarifies it for you?

  • http://torviewtoronto.blogspot.com torviewtoronto

    delicious looking biryani looks wonderful

  • nandi

    Hi Alida,

    may I please ask, which spice shop do you buy ur garam masala from? I couldn’t
    find in it at the usually food retailers and I bought Pakco masala, don’t know
    whether that’s fine as well…

    • http://simply-delicious-food.com/ Alida Ryder

      Nandi, I usually buy bulk when I go to Durban from their spice shops and keep it in airtight containers. I also like Woolworth’s spice mixes.

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