Chicken Biryani

Fragrant Chicken Biryani with buttermilk sauce is a delicious Indian dish. Packed with aromatic spices, fluffy rice and juicy chicken, it’s a showstopper!

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.

Even though the best curries are made with a variety of aromatic spices,  if you don’t have all the spices in your pantry you can easily use a good quality curry paste and curry powder/garam masala.

An old Indian friend of mine gave me many of her mom’s tips for making the best biryani and adding a layer of crispy potatoes to the top was one. Another was to serve the finished biryani with buttermilk sauce which is a non-negotiable for us now.

Ingredients Needed

  • Basmati rice.
  • Chicken breasts. Boneless chicken thighs can be used too.
  • Onion.
  • Fresh garlic cloves.
  • Ginger.
  • Spices: Cardamom pods, cumin, coriander, turmeric powder, paprika, hot masala. Spice shops often have biryani masala which will also be delicious. Other spices like cinnamon stick, red chili powder, bay leaf and saffron can also be used.
  • Chicken broth/chicken stock.
  • Chopped tomatoes.
  • Salt and black pepper.
  • Potatoes.
  • For the buttermilk raita: Buttermilk, coriander, cumin, turmeric, chilli powder, fresh lemon juice and salt.
  • For the spiced butter: Butter/ghee, turmeric and salt.
Chicken Biryani with buttermilk raita

How to make chicken biryani

Biryani can seem complicated as there are so many steps before you get to the final dish but they are all so worth it. Start by making a simple chicken curry. Fry the chicken until golden brown then remove from the pan. Add all the aromatics and fry until fragrant then add the chicken back in. Pour in the tomatoes and stock and allow to simmer until the chicken is cooked.

To speed things up, I cook the rice in chicken stock until almost completely cooked as then it the biryani needs less time in the oven. Fry the potatoes until crisp and do the same with the onions and then it’s assembly time.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, layer the rice with the chicken curry and spoon over spiced butter in between. Top with the crisp potatoes and fried onions then cover and bake until golden brown on top. Serve with the buttermilk raita or a spoonful of yogurt and sprinkle over fresh coriander leaves/cilantro.

Chicken Biryani

What kind of rice is used in biryani?

You can use any long grain rice for biryani but Basmati rice is traditionally used. I love using Jasmine rice as well as the rice adds such fragrance to the finished dish.

Is garam masala and curry powder the same?

Although both are spice blends, Garam Masala is often more flavorful and packs a larger punch than curry powder. Curry powder is most often based on turmeric where as Garam Masala is not. Garam Masala also varies from region to region and often contains sweeter spices like nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom. If you can’t find Garam Masala, try to use a really good quality spice blend/curry powder.

Indian spices

Love Indian food? Try these recipe:

  1. Indian-spiced lamb chops
  2. Chicken korma curry
  3. Butter Chicken Curry
  4. Shrimp Curry
Chicken Biryani with buttermilk raita

Chicken Biryani

Fragrant Chicken Biryani with buttermilk sauce is a delicious Indian dish. Packed with aromatic spices, fluffy rice and juicy chicken, it's a showstopper!
4.34 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Chicken, Dinner
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Biryani recipe, butter chicken curry, Chicken biryani
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Calories: 458kcal
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 8


for the biryani

  • 3 cups cooked and cooled Basmati rice
  • 1 kg boneless chicken breasts cubed
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
  • 3 cm 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 1/2 cup of stock
  • 400 g (14oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt to taste

for the crispy onions and potatoes

  • 2 onions finely sliced
  • 3 large potatoes cubed
  • oil for frying

For the spiced butter

  • ½ cup butter
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt

For the buttermilk raita

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
  • Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large pot.
  • Fry the chicken in the oil until they start to brown. Remove and set aside.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Fry the onions in the same oil until crisp and golden and then drain and set aside.
  • To make the spiced butter, melt the butter, turmeric and salt together.
  • To assemble the dish, layer a ½ of the rice at the bottom of a greased oven-proof dish. Drizzle with half of the spiced butter. Next, cover the rice with the chicken curry. Follow with the rest of the rice and the remaining butter. Finally, cover the rice with the fried potatoes and onions (reserve some onions for serving). 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, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  • Remove the biryani from the oven and top with the crispy onions.
  • Serve the Biryani with the Buttermilk Raita and fresh Coriander/cilantro.


Calories: 458kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 795mg | Potassium: 925mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 479IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 122mg | Iron: 6mg

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  1. What happened to the chicken biryani recipe. Every time I try to go to it it only is showing me the cauliflower biryani. Help!! My family loves the chicken one and I went to make it tonight and can’t get it it.

  2. 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…

  3. 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).

    1. 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?

    1. 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. 🙂

  4. 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! 😉

  5. 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!

    1. 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. 🙂

  6. 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!)