Chicken Biryani


When I first made biryani a million years ago, or so it seems, it was a fun dish for me because it was a perfect vehicle for leftovers – leftover rice, leftover chicken, even a leftover curry. But one can also make it purposefully from scratch, creating a custom version of what you like.

Biryani is an Indian dish, with many variations, which is perfect for the way I like to cook. It’s basically rice and meat, and you can sprinkle the dish with cilantro or green onions, serve with sour cream. It’s fun and flavorful and filling.

I’m not using an actual recipe, simply so I can show you how to make it from scratch and how easy and straight forward biryani is. I’m using the basic Indian-inspired seasonings, basmati rice, and prepared chicken.

After I’d created the seasonings for this biryani, I discovered an actual biryani seasoning mixture that I bought a few years ago. I need to go through my spice drawers!

Chicken Biryani
Printable recipe below

3 tablespoons ghee or butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 – 1” piece of ginger, minced
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 cups basmati rice, I’m using brown
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, or to taste
Approximately 3 1/2 cups of good chicken broth
4 grilled chicken breasts
2 tablespoons ghee
1 red bell pepper, cut into slices
1 green bell pepper, cut into slices
4 hard-boiled eggs
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

Melt the ghee in a pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add the ginger and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, give it a stir, then pour in the rice followed by the spices.

Add the broth and give everything a stir. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for about 30 minutes. Brown rice takes a bit longer so test it. If your rice is done and there’s still some broth, give it a stir, keep the lid on, and give it about 10 minutes; the rice will absorb the liquid. Set aside and keep warm.

Cut up the cooked chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. I put sweet paprika on mine before cooking, which is why they’re red; paprika is not an Indian spice. Set the chicken aside.

In a skillet, heat the ghee over medium-high heat, and sauté the pepper slices for about 5 minutes, getting some good caramelization on them, turning once. You might have to do this in two batches. Set the slices on a plate.

Add the chicken pieces, turn off the heat, put on a lid, and let the chicken heat through.

Peel the hard-boiled eggs and slice in half; make sure they’re at room temperature.

To serve, place the aromatic rice on a serving platter, then cover with the peppers and chicken. If you prefer, you can mix the chicken with the rice instead.

Decorate the biryani with the egg halves, and sprinkle the dish with cilantro.

If you don’t want to grill chicken breasts, pick apart a rotisserie chicken and coarsely chop the meat.

If you want to use less chicken, include a can of drained chick peas to the rice.

Now you can see how you can come up with your own recipe for biryani. It’s fun and easy!



43 thoughts on “Chicken Biryani

    • Smart. It’s similar to a curry powder, which you know, but I always prefer using individual ingredients. And my curry mixtures must have cinnamon.

    • Sure, I’d prefer thighs. But my husband will only eat breasts of chicken. Obviously the recipe doesn’t change much with thighs. Good flavors is what it’s all about! And even leftover chicken!

  1. Love this! And of course I’ve mentioned several times (and in an upcoming post) the Indian food is one of my favorite. By the way, don’t you love Kalustyans? If I lived anywhere near it I would be so poor from buying new in different spices…

    • Tofu is fabulous. I really should use it more often, myself, but in this case I was presenting an actual recipe. In my real life I eat very little meat, but you wouldn’t know it from my blog posts! My husband eats most all of the meaty meals!

  2. Terrific recipe! I love biryani — any and all. Haven’t made one in a long, long time — but you’re providing plenty of inspiration for why I should again! I used to look down my nose at packaged spice blends, but am starting to warm up to the idea more and more. Just easier. Anyway, good stuff — thanks.

    • Oh my goodness, me too! I mean, Italian seasoning? You mean basil and oregano??? Used to make me crazy. I have softened over the years! I just discovered one called baharat. Wow!

  3. My husband and I adore Indian food, but we are still working on my kids. This is such a fantastic recipe for chicken biryani! So many fantastic warm and delicious spices…Definitely going to try this!

    • I know, it’s tough with kids. When mine were little I felt like a short order cook, because I wanted to please everyone. Plus I remember my mother making me sit there and finish my peas when I didn’t like peas. I knew I’d never be like that! I probably went overboard…

  4. Mimi, this is my kind of cooking! Comforting, packed with delicious spices, hearty — and you’ve presented it so beautifully. I’m picturing it in middle of my dining room table with a lot of forks. :-) ~Valentina

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