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Chicken Biryani 

Last time I counted, there were well over 80 different versions of biryani ranging from ones we found in the Middle East and the Caucuses, down to those found in Southern India. This recipe takes elements from a number of them. I use raw meat and partially boiled rice that I cook in a pot using a dough seal. It has become one of my favorites to cook.

A plate of Chicken Biryani by Simon Majumdar

Chicken Biryani Recipe


  • 1 Large Chicken (skinned and cut into eight joints or you can use leg/thigh pieces)

  • 1 Cup Whole Milk Yogurt

  • 1 Pinch Saffron (infused in ½ cup of warm milk)

  • 2 Onions (sliced very thinly and fried until crisp)

  • 2 Cups Basmati Rice (rinsed twice and soaked for 15 minutes)

  • 1 Bunch Fresh Mint Leaves (leaves plucked from stalks)

  • 1 Bunch Cilantro Leaves (leaves plucked from stalks.

  • 4 Cloves Garlic (peeled and pureed)

  • 1 Inch Fresh Ginger (peeled and pureed)

  • 4 Serrano Chilies (de-seeded and pureed)

  • 1 Teaspoon Salt

  • 1 Teaspoon Sugar

  • 1 Teaspoon Turmeric Powder

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

  • 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin

  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cilantro

  • 2 Bay Leaves

  • 1 Cinnamon Stick

  • 3 Green Cardamom

  • 4 Cloves

  • 1 Cup All Purpose Flour (for making the dough seal)

  • Flaked Almonds (for garnish)



  1. Place the chicken in a large bowl.

  2. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon, turmeric, salt, sugar, cumin, chili and ground cilantro.

  3. Add in the pureed ginger, garlic and Serrano chili.

  4. Add in the yogurt and combine well, so all the chicken is coated.

  5. Add in ½ of the fried onions.

  6. Add in ½ of the fresh mint.

  7. Add in ½ of the fresh cilantro leaves.

  8. Mix well, cover the bowl and chill for at least two hours. Set aside.

  9. After two hours, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

  10. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom and cloves to the boiling water.

  11. Add your rice to the water and bring back to the boil.

  12. Cook the rice for around 8 minutes. You don’t want it fully cooked as it will continue to cook in the final dish.

  13. Place the marinated chicken in a large oven proof pot or Dutch oven.

  14. Cover the chicken with the par cooked rice.

  15. Sprinkle the saffron infused in milk over the rice.

  16. Retaining a few for garnish, evenly sprinkle the mint leaves, cilantro leaves, and fried onions over the top of the rice.

  17. Place a lid on top of the pot.

  18. Combine the All-Purpose flour and a little water to make a dough.

  19. Use the dough to seal the lid to the pot so that no steam can escape. You want the juices from the meat cooking to go into the rice.

  20. Place the pot in a 350 degrees Fahrenheit oven and cook for about 35 minutes.

  21. Break the seal of the pot and transfer the contents to a large serving platter.

  22. Garnish with the remaining mint leaves, cilantro leaves and fried onions.

  23. Before serving, sprinkle with a few slivered almonds a little whisked yogurt.

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