Feb 22, 2013

Chicken Biriyani...my mom's signature recipe!

Chicken Biriyani was and is THE most special dish that's prepared at my home for any special occasions be it birthdays, anniversaries, any guests coming home, even me coming home from college for a few days used to be celebrated with a plateful or rather a vessel full of my mom's delicious Chicken Biriyani. :-)
Even after our wedding, when Manish & I went to visit my home, I knew that that's what she would prepare for us! Its her signature dish and we simply love it.

A very close friend of my mom's, Omana aunty gave her (or rather taught her) this recipe for chicken biriyani. No body who has eaten this has ever left the home without asking for its recipe. I recently made this when we visited Manish's sis and bro-in-law in Seattle and they too loved it! 
Its really easy to prepare and the taste and aroma of this dish is something I cannot really explain, you just have to taste it to know what I mean :-)
Indian Whole Spices 
 Can you believe the first time my mom ever made this chicken biriyani was for my 1st birthday and that too for a group of 50 people. So it has an emotional background too :-) Oh and she made by 1st b'day cake too from scratch with few of her colleagues help...I'm proud of my mama!!
Thank you Omana aunty and thank you mummy for this gorgeous recipe which is a keeper!

The recipe below is good to serve 4-6 people and the taste just gets better with each day! Mine is a spicier version, but you can adjust the spice level as per your taste.

Chicken Biriyani Recipe
You'll need
For Rice
Basmati Rice - 4 cups 
Whole spices: 3 Cardamom, 2 small cinnamon sticks, 4-6 Cloves, 1 Star Anise, 1 Bay leaf, 6-8 whole Black Peppercorns, 1 small piece Nutmeg
Ghee or Butter or Oil - 3 tblsp
Water - 8 cups
Saffron - a pinch
Warm milk - 2-3 tblsp
For Chicken masala
Whole chicken , cut into 1"- 1.5" cubes, except for drumsticks and wings - 3 lb or 1.5 kg
Ginger - Garlic paste - 1 tblsp
Red chilli powder - 2 tsp
Corriander powder - 2 tblsp
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1 or 2 tsp
Biriyani masala (optional) - 1 tsp
Fresh Corriander Leaves - 1/2 cup (almost a handful)
Fresh Mint Leaves - 1/2 cup (almost a handful)
Tomato - 1 medium
Yogurt - 3-4 tblsp
Salt - to taste
Pepper - to taste
For Garnishing 
Onion (thinly sliced into rounds) - 1 large or around 1 cup 
Cashews - 8-10
Raisins - 8-10
Oil or Ghee for frying the onions, nuts and raisins

For Cooking the Rice
1. Wash and soak the Basmati rice in water for 2-3 hours and drain it over a collander. ( I usually skip this step as I'm lazy, but it definitely softens the rice)
2. In a large vessel heat ghee/butter/oil and roast the whole spices until the spices leave a lovely aroma.
3. Add the Rice and fry for 2 minutes until the rice is coated with the ghee/butter/oil and the spices are mixed in. Add 8 cups of water, enough salt to season the rice and cook until the rice is cooked through.
4. Soak the Saffron in some warm milk and keep aside.

For the Chicken masala
1. Cook the chicken pieces along with ginger-garlic paste, salt and pepper with very little water until the chicken is semi-cooked. (I prefer to use fresh made ginger-garlic paste)
2. In a separate pan dry roast the spice powders on low heat (red chilli, corriander, turmeric and garam masala), make sure not to burn.
3. Add the spice powders to the cooked chicken and cook on medium flame until it forms a gravy and the chicken is cooked well.
4. In a mixer grinder grind the fresh corriander-mint leaves, tomato and Yogurt into a fine paste and lower the heat of the chicken and add this paste and cook until the gravy thickens slightly. Check for seasoning.

For Garnishing
1. Heat Oil/ghee in a pan and start frying the thinly sliced Onions until they look brown and carmelised.
2. Next fry the cashews and raisins and keep aside on a paper towel.

Assembling the Chicken Biriyani
1. Take some 2 cups of cooked rice aside and mix it very gently with required amount of  saffron milk. (this will provide a lovely yellow colored saffron flavored rice)
2. In a large bottomed vessel start layering by adding some of the chicken + gravy. Add some white basmati rice and little yellow basmati rice covering the chicken layer. Add some garnishing of fried onions, cashew and raisins.
3. Repeat layering by adding chicken pieces + gravy , topped with white and yellow rice, topped with garnishing until all the chicken and rice is finished. Make sure the topmost layer is rice. 
4. Finish by garnishing on top with the fried Onions, Cashews and Raisins. (I also added some chopped corriander leaves on top - its optional).
5. Close the vessel with a good fitting lid and cook on very low flame for 2-3 minutes ( What I normally do is, heat my dosa kallu (or a cast-iron pan) and place the biriyani vessel on top of it , cooking on low heat for few minutes) - If you have an Oven proof vessel, you could also cook in the oven at 200F , make sure the vessel is closed.
6. Take off the heat and let the biriyani rest for few minutes and then serve hot and enjoy!

If you do not have Saffron, roast 1 tsp turmeric powder in a frying pan and then mix it to 1/4 cup of water and sprinkle this water to some Rice until it becomes yellow, else sprinkle it directly into the rice while layering. (The roasting helps to reduce the raw turmeric taste and smell) -- Or else use yellow food color :-)

My most favorite combo of eating this Chicken Biriyani is with some Mixed Veg Raita (chopped cucumber, carrots, tomato, onions, green chillies and corriander leaves in seasoned Yogurt) , some fried Papad and Mango pickle...mmmmm...yummy!! 
Manish likes his in a Trivandrum version, where some chicken gravy is also served on the side. So I scooped out a little gravy after the step where I add the Yogurt-mint-corriander paste to the chicken and before the gravy thickens, which is a good side dish as well.

Try this Chicken Biriyani today and please everyone in your home, it hardly takes 30 - 40 minutes to prepare :-) Enjoy!!



  1. wow,nicely presented.craving it for now,like the way you have made it is little different.

  2. yummy chicken biriyani... i love the satisfaction of making biriyani, despite the lengthy procedure, it's such a beautiful feeling... :)

  3. wow delicious biryani, delectable clicks :)

  4. wow now this one looks delicious.Any biryani recipe is good but mom's recipes are the best!

  5. Mom's biriyani ..... yummy. will try this for sure.

  6. Truly a feast!!! Moms recipes are the best!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  7. Your mom sounds like a very good cook, and thank you to u and her for sharing this recipe, it is a keeper! I love recipes with history, and since biryani is our fav too, will definitely try your version next time we crave for some proper biryani:-)

  8. Mother's recipes are truly the best!! I can almost smell how fragrant and beautiful this biriyani must be. :) I wish I could grab that bowl... all for myself. :)

  9. Biriyani is my favorite, especially when prepared with Mint and Cilantro leaves. Mom's recipes are life savers at times hehehe :)

  10. You are so right about celebrating any special occasion with Biryani...very similar at our home too!! Loved your mom's the recipe..Your biryani looks perfect

  11. A nostalgic post?? Mom's recipes are always d best..Ente vayyil kappal odikkam,baki undenkil pracel please :)

  12. A wonderful biryani! It looks really scrumptious. I wish I had that for supper...



  13. This looks good, you have put lot of effort that I can sense through pic, this is the reason I'm tempting here. ..Lovely presentation and very clear description
    have a great week ahead!

  14. Thank you for sharing this delicious recipe. I really enjoy your presentation and its definitely easy to prepare that's why later, I'm gonna try this one ,, Anyway, thanks again and keep on sharing :)


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