Chicken Biryani

 In Chicken, Curry, Dinner/Supper


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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.

And under no circumstances are you allowed to serve this without the Buttermilk Raita. It compliments the Biryani perfectly and without it, it just elevates it to new levels of awesome. The crispy potatoes are another fantastic addition and one that an Indian friend of mine told me about. Her mom always adds a layer of crispy fried potatoes to the top of her biryani. ??? Yes please!

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.

Layer the rice with the chicken curry and spoon over spiced butter in between. Top with the crisp potatoes and onions then cover and bake until golden brown on top. Serve with the buttermilk raita and fresh coriander/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. Prawn curry and Naan bread


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! 
Course Chicken, Dinner
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Biryani recipe, Chicken biryani, Curry recipe
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 8
Calories 402kcal
Author Alida Ryder


  • 2 kg chicken breasts skin removed and deboned
  • 2 onions finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 cm piece fresh ginger grated
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg and ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp hot garam masala
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt to taste


  • 2 cups Jasmine/ Basmati rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock/water

For the crispy potatoes and onions

  • 2 large potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 2 onions thinly slices
  • oil for frying

For the spiced butter

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

For assembly

  • 1 cup chicken stock for assembly

For the Buttermilk Raita

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


  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (338°F).
  • Heat 3 tablespoons 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.
  • 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. 
  • Serve the Biryani with the Buttermilk Raita and fresh Coriander/cilantro.


Calories: 402kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 799mg | Potassium: 980mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2.5% | Vitamin C: 17.8% | Calcium: 10.1% | Iron: 21.5%

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Showing 24 comments
  • gaynor

    Hi hun when you say one tin of tomatoes is that 400g or 800g plz x

  • 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…

    • 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.

  • torviewtoronto

    delicious looking biryani looks wonderful

  • 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).

    • 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?

  • anjelina

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

    • Ally_R

      Anjelina : Me too! I just LOVE Biryani!

  • Kevin (Closet Cooking)

    That chicken biryani looks so good!

    • Ally_R

      Kevin : Thanx so much! 🙂

  • Lisa

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

  • Barry

    What oven temperature?

    • Ally_R

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

  • Marisa

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

    A fellow Indian food lover

    • 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. 🙂

  • Robyn

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

  • 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! 😉

  • 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!

    • 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. 🙂

  • 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!)

    • 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!

  • Ally_R

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

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