Chicken Biryani

Posted: October 25

Time: 1 hour 35 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

recipe image

Chicken Biryani (bir-ya-nee) offers flavors that practically dance and sing on your tongue! Every bite boasts melt-in-your-mouth chicken, softened onions, and the rich aromatic tastes of garlic, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. With a fluffy foundation of Basmati rice absorbing all of these flavors, you have a potent dish that beautifully balances sweet, savory, citrus, and earthy notes. Topped with a light, tangy, and creamy cilantro coconut sauce, you'll be singing this delicacy's praises from the rooftops!


• 1/2 cup ghee (clarified butter) • 3 whole cloves • 2 cinnamon sticks • 4 cardamom pods, smashed • 1 extra-large onion, diced • 1 cup yogurt, full fat • 1 cup cilantro • 1 cup fresh mint • 2-inch piece of ginger, sliced • 2 large garlic cloves • 1 tablespoon turmeric, ground • 2 tablespoons cumin, ground • 2 tablespoons coriander, ground • 1 teaspoon chili powder • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning • 3-4 green chilis, sliced and split lengthwise • 3 medium tomatoes, diced • 1/4 cup oil, neutral-flavored (like vegetable or canola) • 2 pounds chicken thigh meat, cut into pieces (either boneless and skinless or bone-in and skin-on) • 3 cups Basmati rice, washed • 3 cups chicken stock or water • 1/4 cup raisins • 1/2 cup cashews • fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional) For the cilantro coconut yogurt sauce: • 1 cup yogurt • 1/4 cup coconut, flaked or fresh grated • 4 green chilis • 3/4 cup cilantro • 1-inch piece of ginger • 1/2 teaspoon salt For the tempering oil (to be paired with the cilantro yogurt sauce): • 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, neutral-flavored (like vegetable or canola) • 1 1/2 teaspoons black gram dal • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder • fresh curry leaves, a few (optional)


Step 1

In a large dutch oven (with a tight-fitting lid), melt the ghee over medium-high heat on the stove-top.

Step 2

Add in the cloves, cinnamon sticks, diced onion, and smashed cardamom pods. Sauté for 2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium, stirring occasionally.

Step 3

Meanwhile, blend the cilantro, mint, yogurt, garlic, and ginger in a blender. If necessary add water to the blender in small increments to help with the mixing. Set aside.

Step 4

Add the salt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and chili powder into the dutch oven with the onion mixture. Stir for 1-2 minutes, then pour the blended yogurt mixture into the dutch oven.

Step 5

Add in the split chilis and diced tomatoes. Cook over medium-low heat until the oil separates, about 10-15 minutes.

Step 6

Season the chicken with salt. Because the chicken is cut into pieces, avoid a heavy hand when salting. Then add the chicken to the pot, cooking and stirring occasionally for about 15 minutes, until the chicken slightly browns and becomes tender.

Step 7

Slowly stir in the 1/4 cup of oil. Add the washed Basmati rice and chicken stock (or water) to the dutch oven. Occasionally stir, then bring to a boil.

Step 8

Continue simmering over medium heat, uncovered, until the liquid has mostly evaporated. Then reduce the heat to the lowest setting possible.

Step 9

Add in the cashews and raisins. Then cover the top of the dutch oven with a moist cloth, and return the lid over top, pulling the corners of the cloth towards the lid handle.

Step 10

For 40 minutes to an hour, continue to cook on the lowest heat. Once the rice is nice and tender, the Chicken Biryani is done. Give it a good stir and then adjust the salt, to taste, if needed.

Step 11

While the chicken and rice cook, make the cilantro coconut yogurt sauce by mixing the coconut, yogurt, cilantro, chilis, ginger, and salt in a blender. Then place the sauce in a bowl and set it aside.

Step 12

To make the tempering oil, begin by heating the 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil in a small skillet. Then add in the black gram dal, mustard seed, cumin seeds, chili flakes, asafoetida powder, and a few fresh curry leaves.

Step 13

After about 30 seconds, the mustard seeds should begin to pop. Once that happens, pour the oil on top of the yogurt sauce you previously made.

Step 14

Serve the Chicken Biryani with the tempered yogurt sauce on the side and garnish with fresh cilantro!

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