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Chicken Biryani

 In Chicken, Curry, Dinner/Supper, Recipes

Chicken biryani

If you had to ask me what my favourite cuisine was, I would probably not be able to tell you. But I might be able to narrow it down to three or four and in those Indian food would rank pretty highly. I am so obsessed with Indian cuisine. I love how the Northern and Southern regions differ so much with their use of ingredients and methods and above all, I can’t get enough of the depth, fragrance and flavour that accompanies all things Indian.

Chicken biryani

As an Afrikaans girl, my introduction to Indian food was “Kêrrie en Rys” which was served at church fêtes all over the country. This very loose interpretation of curry was made from minced beef and included onions, carrots, peas and small cubes of potatoes and would be flavoured with curry powder bought from a supermarket. It was usually served with turmeric-flavoured rice, Mrs Balls chutney, desiccated coconut and some sliced bananas. I don’t want to knock my culture but let me just say, it was not great. Usually bland and under seasoned and not really deserving of the word “curry”. In my early teens a few Indian restaurants opened in our town and I started experimenting with proper curries. For my limited palate, butter chicken and lamb korma was a hit and as I got used to spice I quickly fell in love with vindaloo as well. I loved the copper bowls the curry was served in, I loved the raita and poppadoms and naan bread it was served with. I just loved it all.

Crispy onions

Best of all is that Winter is coming up and Winter time = Curry time in this house. In anticipation, I decided to make a Chicken Biryani over the weekend which is one of my favourite curries. And the way I do mine makes it a really easy chicken biryani recipe. There are a few steps but they are very simple and the end result is so worth it.  I topped my chicken biryani with crisp, fried onions which added stunning texture as well as a lovely sweetness to the finished dish and served it with a big bowl of herbed yoghurt sauce which adds a bit of creaminess and finished it off beautifully. It’s also a great make-ahead dish and can be assembled up to a day in advance before baking off before serving. What more could you ask for?

Chicken biryani

5.0 from 1 reviews
Chicken Biryani
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Curry, Dinner, Chicken
Serves: 4-6
for the biryani
  • 3 cups cooked and cooled Basmati rice, cooked with ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1kg boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3cm piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon hot masala spice
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock, reserve ½ cup of stock
  • 1x 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 large potatoes, cubed
  • oil, for frying
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
for the crispy onions
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • enough oil to deep fry the onions
for the herbed yoghurt sauce
  • 2 cups Greek yoghurt
  • 2 tablespoons coriander, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • salt, to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
  2. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot.
  3. Fry the chicken in the oil until they start to brown. Remove and set aside.
  4. Fry the onions, garlic and ginger for 2 minutes before adding the spices. Allow to fry for another minute and add the chicken back into the pot.
  5. Stir to coat the chicken in all the spices and add the tomatoes, sugar and chicken stock.
  6. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
  7. Heat ½ cup of oil in a large frying pan and fry the potatoes, cumin seeds and chilli flakes until golden and crisp. Season with salt and set aside.
  8. To assemble the dish, layer a ⅓ 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 reserved chicken stock and cover with foil (or a lid if your oven-dish has one).
  9. Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  10. To make the crispy onions, heat the oil in a small saucepan then fry the onions until they are brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper before seasoning with salt.
  11. To make the yoghurt sauce, combine all the ingredients then set aside.
  12. Remove the biryani from the oven and top with the crispy onions.
  13. Serve with a generous dollop of the yoghurt sauce.

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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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Showing 9 comments
  • Venessa

    Great! My picky son ate two plates and I send some along for his school lunch. Sure the picky American kids will ask about all those wonderful aromas! Thanks will make again.

  • Venessa

    I have just made this. When I was ready to assemble, the last step said to pour chicken stock over dish and then bake. But the chicken stock was added to the chicken and spices to cook for 15 minutes. It did not mention to divide the stock. Not sure what to do for this step. I assumed that the sauce was enough for the rice, in that mentioned step. It smells great. Sure it is going to taste divine!

    • Alida Ryder

      Oh dear! That’s completely my fault Venessa. I forgot to add that you must reserve 1/2 cup of stock. However, if you’ve added it all to the sauce, there should be enough sauce there to make the whole thing luscious and moist. How did it turn out?

  • Reply

    This looks awesome!! These is nothing better than a huge plate of biryani in my opinion… I get it every time we go get indian for dinner (which is pretty much on a weekly basis 😉 ) and now I can’t wait to try your version at home!

    • Alida Ryder

      I also simply love it! Please let me know what you think once you’ve made this. I’d love to know if it measures up to your weekly one. 😉

  • Reply

    Indian has to be one of my favourite International cuisines too – I just cant get enough of the fragrant spices & delicious aromatics. This chicken biryani looks divine!

  • Anne

    This recipe sounds delicious and I am sure to make it this weekend. In reading your recipe you have cumin and chili flakes after the potatoes in ingredient list – (cumin is listed above in same list) but you never mention when to add.
    I am going to assume you add these just before the potatoes are done along with the salt. But please let me know if different
    thank you
    I enjoy your website and the recipes are wonderful ! thank you

    • Alida Ryder

      Thanks for pointing that out Anne! I’ve amended the recipe. You’re right, the spices are fried with the potatoes. 🙂

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