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 Chicken Biryani Recipe

Chicken Biryani
Click any picture to enlarge
Our Biryani recipe is a self contained meal. Biryanis are really meat and rice casseroles with lots of spices. This recipe uses chicken as the meat but lamb does equally well.


 Pre-cooking Time: 45 mins, but see preparation steps below  Cooking Time:  2 hrs 30 mins
 How Difficult Complicated  Freeze?   No

 4 to 6

Ingredients for Chicken Biryani




Basmati rice 12 oz 340 grams
Skinned and boned chicken breast 1 lb 680 grams
Natural yoghurt 8 fl oz 240 ml
Butter 2 oz 55 grams
Onions 3 medium
Garlic cloves 5
Ginger 1 in 2 cm
Cloves 5
Cumin seeds 1 teaspoon
Ground Coriander 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon stick 1 in 2 cm
Whole nutmeg
Cardamom seeds teaspoon
Freshly ground pepper teaspoon
Saffron threads 1 teaspoon
Cayenne pepper teaspoon
Salt 2 tablespoons
Flaked almonds 4 tablespoons
Sultanas 3 tablespoons
Vegetable oil 12 tablespoons
Eggs 3 medium

Biryanis are served as the centre-piece of a feast and if cooked in the traditional manner they take roughly 2 hours to prepare and cook. There are recipes around which cut this time dramatically but they are very poor substitutes for a properly cooked biryani.

Our recipe gives you a biryani in the traditional style. To help you achieve that authentic taste in the minimum of time we have analysed the cooking process in some depth and taken timings. We have also taken lots of helpful pictures and used our cooking experience to make the best use of your time.

Large pan
Casserole dish with a lid

For the very whitest rice with the best grain separation, soak it in salted (one tablespoon) water at room temperature or a few hours. Anything from 3 to 24 hours is good. Soak the rice after it has been rinsed several times to remove the starch on the grains.
If the above timing is too long then soak for just 30 minutes.

Add one onion (peeled and cut into 8), ginger, garlic, half the almonds, three tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to an electric blender bowl. Blend for a couple of minutes until the mixture forms an even paste.

Peel the 2 remaining onions, cut them in half and then slice thinly. Cover and put aside for use later on.

Cut the chicken breast roughly into 3 cm (1 in) cubes.

Fring chicken pieces Add four tablespoons of vegetable oil to the largest pan you have and heat to medium high. When the oil is heated add the chicken. If your pan is not large, you may need to fry the chicken in two batches. Turn frequently and cook for around 8 minutes until the chicken pieces are slightly brown. Remove the chicken from the pan.

Add two more tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan and allow it to heat. Add the onion based paste (see Preparation steps above) to the pan.

Fry the onion based paste for five minutes stirring constantly. The edges of the paste may well turn brown as it cooks - keep mixing.

Cooking the biryani paste

Turn the heat to low then add in the chicken pieces, one teaspoon of salt and 150 ml / pint of water. Add the yoghurt to the pan, one tablespoon at a time, stirring it in each time.
Let the mixture simmer (barely bubbling), uncovered, for 30 minutes. The mixture can start to dry up. In this case add a small amount of water.

While the chicken is cooking, grind the following herbs finely; cloves, cumin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. The nutmeg can be ground with a pestle and mortar though is is easier to use a grater.
Put the eggs in boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove the egg shells and leave to cool.

Grinding spices for biryani

Spices added When the chicken has cooked for 30 minutes, add the ground spices from the step above, the cayenne, ground pepper and coriander. Mix well and leave to simmer for a further 30 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, perform the steps below.

Prepare the saffron now by placing the threads in a small bowl and crushing it with the back of a teaspoon. Add three tablespoons of water, and stir well. Put the saffron, in the water, aside for later use.

Add 1 oz (28 g) of butter to a casserole dish, cover and place in the oven at 150C / 300F / Gas Mark 2.

Bring a large pan of salted (1 tablespoon) water to the boil. Drain the rice and add it to the boiling water. Boil for 6 minutes. Remove the rice from the water and leave to drain for a minute or two.

Take the casserole dish from the oven and spread the melted butter round the base and sides of the casserole.

Layering chicken and rice for a biryani

Authentic biryani is cooked with the rice and chicken in layers. So, place a quarter of the rice in the base of the casserole then follow with half of the chicken. Follow with another layer of a quarter of the rice followed by the remaining chicken. The final layer is the remaining half of the rice. Gently firm down the contents of the casserole.

Chop the remaining butter into eight and place on top of the rice. Dribble the saffron water over the centre part of the rice (click to enlarge picture).
Cover the casserole with foil and then the lid to seal in the moisture. Place in the pre-heated oven for 35 minutes.

Biryani ready for cooking

Frying onions to garnish

While the biryani is cooking, pour 6 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a pan on a medium high heat. When the oil is heated, add the thinly sliced onions. Fry, gently turning them frequently, until they are golden brown. This will take about 12 minutes. The picture on the left shows the onions half way through the frying process.

When the onions are well-browned, remove them from the pan (leave the remaining oil in the pan), pat dry with kitchen paper and place them in a covered bowl.

Add the sultanas to the oil in the pan and fry for 30 seconds turning constantly. Remove the sultanas and place in the bowl with the onions.

Add the remaining sliced almonds to the pan and fry, turning frequently, until they are golden brown. This will take only a couple of minutes. Add them to the fried onions and sultanas.

When the biryani has cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it, still covered, to stand for 5 minutes. As soon as you remove the biryani from the oven, turn off the heat and place a medium sized bowl and the serving dish in the oven to warm.

When the biryani has stood for 5 minutes, remove the cover and spoon out the top layer of the rice, without any chicken, into the warmed medium sized bowl.

Gently mix the chicken and rice in the casserole dish. Spoon it out onto the warmed serving dish. Cover it with the reserved top layer of rice. Slice the eggs in half and place round the serving dish. Finally, garnish the top with the browned onions, sultanas and sliced almonds. Serve immediately.


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