Chicken Biryani


It’s funny how you can forget about certain recipes, even when they’re fabulous. But I had forgotten about an Indian recipe called biryani until I came across egg biryani on a blog, which sadly I can’t locate to share.

So I dug out an old standby Indian cookbook to check out my recipe from way back when. Although I have newer, more well-known Indian cookbooks, this is one cookbook I still refer to on occasion because these tried-and-true recipes can’t be beat.

Chicken biryani is a lovely combination of spiced rice and chicken. The wonderful thing about a biryani is that you can use leftover chicken. Heck, you can use leftover rice also. Here is a photo from the recipe page from that cookbook.
According to the author, Khalid Aziz, “When the great Mogul emperors wanted to put on a really lavish feast, great plates of Biryani, sometimes requiring two people to carry them, would be the centerpiece of the feast.”

So even though this Indian dish utilizes leftovers, it’s still a dish of emperors!

Chicken Biryani
Murgh Biryani

1 pound chicken leftovers*
8 ounces Basmati rice (I used brown Basmati)
1 pint chicken stock
1 small onion
2 ounces ghee
1 clove garlic
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 ounces sultanas
2 ounces blanched almonds
Orange food coloring, optional
2 hard-boiled eggs, optional
2 tomatoes, optional
1 green pepper, optional

Here is what the author says about the chicken: Separate the chicken meat from any bones and remove any fat or skin. Break the chicken up into fairly large chunks; I say break rather than cut – the idea is that the pieces should be large enough to still be recognizable as chicken by the time the cooking process is over.
I don’t think I’ve ever read such a detailed description before, but I get it!

Wash the rice well and drain. Put it in a saucepan and pour over the chicken stock, leaving to one side 2 tablespoons of stock for use later.
Boil the rice for about 20 minutes until it is al dente. (This will really depend on what kind of rice you use, so make sure it’s cooked before you follow through with this dish.)

Meanwhile, peel and slice the onion thinly. Fry it gently in the ghee in a large frying pan. Peel and slice the garlic and add that to the onion and cook for a further 2 minutes or so.
Now add the spices – the chilli powder, cumin, garam masala and salt – and stir in well.

Add the chicken to the curry sauce and stir well so that it is well coated. Now pour in the remaining chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer.

The next stage involves combining the rice with the chicken and the sultanas and almonds. Once the two are combined, add a little orange food coloring to turn the whole mixture a bright orange. (I did not do this.)

Place the Biryani on a large dish.


Garnish with slices of hard boiled egg, tomato and green pepper.

Serve immediately.


As you can well imagine, biryani reheats well in the microwave or on the stove with a little bit of broth.
* Alternatively, you could always buy a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have leftovers.

35 thoughts on “Chicken Biryani

  1. When my husband and I have gone to Indian restaurants, biryani is always one of the dishes we order. Your version sounds terrific and easy to prepare.

    • Oh, it’s so easy. I honestly didn’t have any leftover chicken – never with my husband around. So I simply bought a rotisserie chicken, which was still easy!

  2. Funny, we must be thinking alike. I made breyani for dinner last night and was going to post it for my South African Tuesday’s tomorrow. Now, I will wait a few weeks before posting it.

  3. Only recently did I stumble upon a biryani recipe and fell in love with it. It is very similar to this one except that yours includes sultanas and almonds. As much as I enjoy “my” version, given my love of all things almond, I cannot help but feel cheated. Thanks for setting me on the right course, Mimi. ;)

  4. Hello, Mimi! Thanks so much for your visit and sweet comment. What a lovely food blog you have and I just finished reading your About Me post. What a fascinating past you had and what wonderful places you’ve lived. Your mother was quite the chef, alright. I can see how it’s in your ‘blood’ :)

  5. I’ve enjoyed biryani many times, but never thought to attempt it—or any other Indian dish—at home. This actually looks pretty easy… may have to try my hand at Indian cooking soon!

    • I had a girlfriend who I turned on to Indian food at a good restaurant, and she begged me to show her how to cook it, since she knew I made Indian food often in my kitchen. I kept telling her that it’s no different than any other cuisine – you saute, you braise, you grill, etc. But I finally had to prove it to her and she was very unimpressed!!! The food was great, but the cooking techniques are the same!! So you need to dive in, head first!!!

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