Monday, 17 March 2014

Easy + Traditional Pakistani Chicken Biryani.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

This is a really easy and simple recipe for a Chicken Biryani. 

Who doesn't love a good biryani? I know I can't resist one! 
This traditional Pakistani recipe is truly delicious and straightforward. The layering process at the end couldn't be simpler and means that you'll have dinner on the table in no time :) I used boneless chicken but whole chicken pieces would be good too. I always like to grind up the whole spices in a biryani because there is nothing worse than sinking your teeth into a whole cardamom or clove!
P.S. the leftovers taste even better the next day!

A Simple List of Ingredients:

1. Basmati Rice

2. Cumin Seeds
3. Cloves
4. Salt
5. Boneless Chicken Pieces
6. Vegetable Oil
7. Onions
8. Garlic
9. Ginger
10. Plain Yoghurt
11. Kewra Water
12. Black Cardamoms
13. Cinnamon Stick
14. Black Peppercorns
15. Green Cardamoms
16. Yellow Food Colouring
17. Green Chillies
18. Dried Prunes
19. Red Chilli Powder
20. Ground Coriander
21. Fresh Lemon

Bismillah, let's begin!

 Before starting, wash 540 grams (2 and 1/2 cups) Basmati Rice in a few changes of water. Then, soak in a bowl of water for at least 30 minutes.

To start, we are going to part-cook the rice for our biryani. So, fill a large pan with Water.

Sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds.

Quite a bit of salt - 1 and 1/2 tablespoons Salt.

And, 10 Cloves. Put the pan onto the heat, and bring to the boil.

Once the water is boiling, drain the basmati rice that we soaked earlier.
Add it to the pan and bring to the boil again. Then, turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes.

{Updated December 2015: I have reduced the cooking time from 10 minutes to 5 minutes. After testing again, I found that 5 minutes was enough for the rice to be par-boiled. It should be soft with still a bite to it}

Drain the rice immediately. 

Spread it out onto a large tray so that it can cool.

Now, to start the chicken masala. We begin with 3 medium Onions.

Heat 80 ml (1/3 cup) Vegetable Oil in a large pan. Peel and slice the onions, and add them into the hot oil. Let them cook on a medium heat, until they turn golden brown. Stir occasionally.

Whilst the onions brown, take 10 Green Cardamoms.

Put them into a spice grinder, and grind to a powder. Set aside to use later.

Then, into the spice grinder, put:
 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
2 inch Cinnamon Stick
3 Black Cardamoms
10 Cloves

Grind to a powder and set aside. Be sure to give your onions a stir too!

Next, take 2 inch piece Ginger and 1 whole bulb Garlic.

Peel and roughly chop the ginger, and put it into a food processor. I used a mini one :)

Peel the garlic and add it in too.

Pour in enough Water, to cover.

Blend until smooth, and set aside.

By now, the onions should be lovely and golden brown.

With a slotted spoon, remove 3/4 of the onions from the pan ..

.. and put them onto a plate.

Then, put 1 and 1/2 pound Boneless Chicken Pieces into the pan. 

You could also use 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces, as I have done in the past.

Stir fry for a few minutes until sealed.

Add in the blended ginger and garlic.

Give everything a good stir.

Then, take your spices. These are:
 the big spice mix we made earlier
1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder - or to taste
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander 
2 teaspoons Salt - or to taste

Add them to the chicken.

Mix well, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cover for 25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare a few other ingredients. Slice up a Lemon into rounds and Green Chillies, through the middle. Add as many or as less chillies as you want - you could even replace them jalapeno chillies which are not as spicy.

Next, take 250 ml (1 and 1/2 cup) Plain Yoghurt.

Using your fingers, roughly crush the onions from earlier.

Add them to the yoghurt.

Mix to combine.

When the chicken is cooked,

add in the yoghurt onion mixture.

Stir it in.

Next, add in 2 tablespoons Kewra Water. If you don't have any, just leave it out. You can buy it from Asian grocery stores or from here.

Stir in the kewra water.

Next, take 5 Dried Plums (Alu Bukhara). These can also be found at Asian stores or from here.

Add in a few of the dried plums, and stir in. The plums give the biryani a delicious tang!! A warning though - these dried plums contain stones so be sure to warn whoever is eating the biryani or remove them before eating.

Cook the masala for a few more minutes until it turns a lovely golden brown colour, and then remove from the heat.

Time to layer! And, this couldn't be easier. Take a large and deep saucepan. Place onto a low heat, and add a splash of Water along with 1/2 teaspoon Cumin Seeds.

Spread out half of the rice.

Followed by all of the chicken masala.

Lay out the lemon slices and slit green chillies.

And, then top with the rest of the rice.

Remember those green cardamoms that we ground up at the beginning? Sprinkle those over the rice.

Finally, to give the biryani a lovely colour, sprinkle on 1/4 teaspoon Yellow Food Colouring.

Now, cover the pan tightly with a lid. Turn the heat up to the highest for 4 minutes. Then, turn the heat to the lowest and leave to steam for 15 minutes.

Switch the heat off. Leave the pan covered for 10 minutes. Uncover and toss the rice very gently.

Serve with fresh salad, this and this.

Full Written Recipe:

Easy and Traditional Pakistani Chicken Biryani

Adapted from Bajias Cooking 

Ingredients – makes one large pot

For the Rice
2 and ½ cups Basmati Rice, washed and soaked
½ teaspoon Cumin Seeds
10 Cloves
1 and ½ tablespoon Salt

For the Chicken Masala
1 and ½ pound Boneless Chicken Pieces
1/3 cup Vegetable Oil
3 medium Onions, peeled and sliced
1 whole Garlic Bulb, peeled
2 inch piece Ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 and ½ cup Plain Yoghurt
2 tablespoons Kewra Water
10 Cloves
3 Black Cardamoms
2 inch Cinnamon Stick
1 teaspoon Black Peppercorns
1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
10 Green Cardamoms
¼ teaspoon Yellow Food Colouring
7 Green Chillies
5 Dried Prunes (Alu Bukhara)
1 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder, or to taste
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 Lemon, sliced into rounds
Extra Cumin Seeds, to layer


1.    First, start off the rice. Fill a large pan with water. Add the salt, cumin seeds and cloves. Bring to the boil.

2.  Once the water is boiling, drain the rice and add it in. And, bring to the boil again. Then, turn the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes.

3.   Drain the rice immediately. Spread it out onto a large tray so it can cool.

4.  Next, begin the chicken. In another large pan, heat the vegetable oil and add the sliced onions. Allow them to cook on a medium heat until golden brown.

5.  Place the green cardamoms into a spice grinder, and grind. Set aside.

6.  Then, put the cloves, cinnamon stick, black cardamoms, black peppercorns and cumin seeds into the grinder. Grind until a powder forms and set aside.

7.  Place the ginger and garlic into a food processor and blend with a little water until a smooth paste forms. Set aside.

8.   By now, the onions should be nicely browned. Remove ¾ of the fried onions from the pan with a slotted spoon and lay them out onto a plate.

9.  Add the chicken pieces to the pan with the remaining onions. Stir fry for few minutes until sealed.

10.        Then, add in the ginger garlic paste, and stir in. Add in the salt, chilli powder, ground coriander and all the grinded spices (except the green cardamoms) to the pan. Give everything a good mix.

11.         Lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Leave the chicken to cook for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

12.        Meanwhile, prepare the fresh lemon. Slice the green chillies through the middle and set them aside.

13.        Take the onions that we put onto a plate, and roughly crush them with your hands. Stir them into the plain yoghurt.

14.       Once the chicken is cooked, add in the yoghurt and onion mixture. Throw in the dried prunes and the kewra water as well. Cook for a few minutes and then remove from heat.

15.        Now, to layer the biryani. Take a large pot and add a splash of water and a few pinches of cumin seeds.

16.        Spread out half the rice in the pan. Then add all the chicken masala and spread out evenly.

17.        Lay out the lemon slices and green chilli slices. Top with the rest of the rice. Sprinkle the grinded green cardamoms over it and the yellow food colouring.

18.         Cover with a lid and place on the highest heat for 4 minutes. Turn the heat right down to the lowest and leave to steam like that for 15 minutes.

19.        Turn the heat off. Leave the pot covered and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving! Serve with the chutney of your choice and enjoy!

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Spice Enthusiast


  1. ooh mouthwatering....looks great!! love your version..

  2. Beautiful pictures. Awesome instructions really easy to follow. Has a great aroma when cooking. Pre cooking the rice though was a terrible idea, it comes out so mushy and way over done. Im very disappointed in this recipe. I loved how your dish looked and made this for my husbands birthday dinner. We wanted to try a different biryani dish then the one I normally make. I really wanted to like this dish but none of us did. I would not recommend to my friends. Sorry.

    1. You have over-cooked the rice in the first stage. I would suggest you cook the rice only until it is half done. Then layer it with the meat, seal saucepan with dough and bake it in an oven for 15 minutes. Guaranteed success.

    2. Yes, the above comment is correct. For a biryani, the rice must be partly cooked before hand - not too much though otherwise it will be mushy. If you would like a recipe for rice that doesn't require pre-cooking, a pulao is what you need. :)

    3. Same problem happened to me...the rice messed up :( rice was mushy and undercooked in some places...i dont know where i went wrong :(

    4. Same problem happened to me...the rice messed up :( rice was mushy and undercooked in some places...i dont know where i went wrong :(

    5. the rice should be cooked for 10 minutes or until half-cooked. it will continue to cook when it steams at the end.

    6. If you rinse the rice in cold water to stop the cooking process after the 10 minutes this does make difference. I cook rice for husband and freeze it half cooked. He heats in microwave minutes in 1 cup plastic dish and lets sit while he heats up his frozen curry and it all comes out good for him. He is truck driver and eats home food frozen for him heated in microwave.

    7. Unknown - Thank you for the tips! :)

      Valeria N and Lisha - I have since tested this recipe again and adjusted the cooking time of the rice. Please take a look and I hope you have more luck in the future! :)

    8. You are much welcome. And thanks for the GREAT recipe. Made it last night and went over pretty well. Need to make a few adjustments, but all in all turned out quite well. I boiled the rice until almost done then rinsed it in cold water. Then when put it all together in my big pot the rice finished cooking so came out really good. My only trouble was it dry. Is there a way to make it so not so dry? There was some gravy left after cooking the chicken and did pour that in too. Thanks again.

    9. So glad you enjoyed it! If you want your biryani to be wetter, simply add more yoghurt. The recipe says 1 and 1/2 cup so maybe add 2 cups. Even as you're layering and you think it could be wetter, simply add a little water. Good luck!

  3. Wow this sound scrumptious. Thank you.

  4. You've done a great job on explaining the procedure of this chicken biryani recipe clearly,, in a way that your readers can easily follow it. Also I'm impressed by the pictures you provided, it looks great, make your post be more interesting and relevant. So, thank you for sharing it and im looking forward for more of your delicious recipe. more power , have a nice day ;)

  5. Assalamualaikum sis, love your recipe, looks simple than any other video i found on youtube, gonna try it tmr InshaALLAH...thanks for sharing the information ! looking forward to more pakistani recipe !

    1. Wasalaam! Glad you like my recipes - hope you enjoyed the biryani. :)

  6. what a lovely authentic receipie!! I am surely going to try it!!!

  7. Where Pakistani cuisine is famous in the entire world for its spices and lip smacking taste, it has various foods to relish with. A lovely dish.

  8. Thanks for sharing it. But we dont use whole cumin seeds in biriyani. I have never tried with it even.

    1. No problem! I would love to hear how you make your biryani. Feel free to share. :)

  9. Very tasty, everyone should try this at least once. Thanks for sharing

  10. wow very nice, now i'm try it.

  11. Thanks for posting such yummy and delicious dish. I have visited many websites i feel this is best among.
    Showing this recipe in steps order with beautiful images makes me to cook immediately.I have tried it. I got the taste.If you really want to try chicken dum ka biryani recipe visit .After trying our recipe please provide your feedback with good response

  12. Love it. We made biriyani at home for every meaningful occasion. Hyderabadi chicken dum biryani recipe is very simple. It is a perfect dish for a home. Step by step instructions on Hyderabad chicken dum biryani recipe is provided in, a top cooking website stuffed with most of the Indian recipes and world recipes along with their variants. Follow the instruction set discussed on Hyderabadi chicken dum biryani recipe along with different chicken recipes

  13. wonderful receipe., trying it are so beautiful...

  14. This sounds really delicious and something new to try. Thanks for sharing.


  15. I'm making this wonderful biryani for the second time. As a teenager, I found this very easy to follow because of the pictures you took the time and effort to add, so thank you so much. This biryani is SO delicious, and I can't wait to try your other recipes.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it! And, wow. I don't think I could have cooked a biryani when I was a teenager! Keep up the good work!

  16. Looks delicious and I love how easy to follow the recipes are. Would love to try it out.
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  17. I just made your recipe and it turned out perfectly. It is important to undercook the basmati. The whole house smells amazing.... hope wife enjoys her lunch!

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the biryani - your wife is a lucky lady!

  18. Salaam! I really want to learn how to cook indian food and this description makes me brave enough to try biryani. Looks so delicious! But I have one question: When you drain the rice the first time do you put it back in the pan with cold water and then bring it to boil? Or do you boil it and the put the rice in again? Or how do you mean? Sorry if It's a stupid question, but as I said I'm really new to indian cooking. /Sarah

    1. Wasalaam Sarah! The rice is drained from the water it was soaking in. Once drained, you add it to the water pan and continue as the recipe says. Hope that makes sense.

    2. I have made a few adjustments to the recipe - have a read through and good luck!

  19. Thank you for your great post. Your post is really valuable and help me a lot. Waiting for your next similar post.
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  20. Hey aslaamailekum

    We tried your step by step pictorial description of biryani.

    It was our first time and it came out just awesome!!!


    1. Echo thta, I made for Eid yesterday and was delish. Remember also to use good quality basmati rice like Tilda otherwise even with only 5 min cook the rice can be mushy.

      All my guests were impressed! thanks for sharing.

    2. So glad you enjoyed the biryani! Thank you for the tips! :)

  21. Looks Yummy ! Thanks for Sahring your precious recipe, I will try and hope to make it like your. keep sharing your blog is very help full to me.
    Eva VTF banaspati oil

  22. Hi
    I just cooked your recipe, tastes really nice but you should warn people about the dried plums, while I was eating I almost broke a tooth on one of the plum stones, I presumed that the stones in the plums had been removed. OUCH !

    1. So glad you enjoyed the biryani but I am so sorry about the dried plums. I've always known them to have contained stones and just assumed that everyone else would know too. Will adjust the recipe accordingly. :)

  23. wow..your way of presentation is amazing..looking delicious..will try this recipe..Chicken Biriyani is my favorite dish..thanks for your recipe.

  24. Thank you for this awesome recipe! I used to eat Pakistani Biryani in my best friend's house as a child and have never been able to replicate the taste of that amazing dish! I will try this and see if it does the trick. One question: are the golden or yellow alu bhukara as good as the black one for this recipe? Golden ones are easy to find in the local Persian stores, but not black ones.

    1. I've never tried the yellow ones but I'm sure they would be just as tasty! Enjoy the biryani!

  25. I'm Indian Hindu with a lot of vegetarians in my family, but nothing makes me salivate more than a delicious plate of mutton Biryani, it's my comfort food when I'm feeling a bit down. Cooking Biryani is a complex and time-consuming job. I'd rather have someone else cook it for me. It's worth every cent.

    Whenever I travel, I mostly eat Western cuisine but somehow Biryani is in a league of its own. You have to grow a taste for it though. I had spent around two years in Hyderabad where they have managed to turn Biryani into an art form. The cooking procedure is very similar to what you have described in your version except they add saffron, but no dried plums. Less yellow food colouring is used compared to what you added. Also, I don't know what is kewra water.

    I generally love Muslim non-vegetarian cuisine which spreads all the way from Turkey to Iran and Afghanistan/Pakistan/India (Lucknow cuisine especially). I am extremely fond of Kebabs like Sheekh and Shami, and Turkish dishes like Doner and Iskendari kebaps. The Iranians are good with stuff like Koobideh kebab which is very tasty but kinda non-spicy, lacks the strong flavour of South Asian kebabs.

    I have known quite a few Pakistanis but never had Pakistani food. I had figured that it would be similar to North Indian cuisine, just more meat compared to veggies, which is always welcome to my palate.

    1. Thank you for all your feedback! I definitely need to cook more vegetarian food myself!

  26. Salaam. I would like to know which spice grinder do you use please as my spices never grind down finely.
    Will be trying your recipe today for my husband but will probably have to leave the spices whole.
    Thanks for the easy and tasty looking recipe. X

    1. Wa alaikumus salaam! We actually use a coffee grinder that we bought just to grind spices. I've heard magic bullet blenders work well too.

  27. Made this for dinner and it turned out perfect.. I used pitted prunes but i'm thinking i might dice them next time so i have a sweet surprise in there. I loved eating them. I loovveee your instructions like getting the spices ready while the onions fry. I omitted the chillies since I have a toddler. Do you think I have to increase the spices if I double the chicken?
    My husband is loves it but wanted more chicken. Thank you so much for this recipe.

    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed the biryani. You can increase the spices when doubling the chicken but be sure to add salt, red chilli and green chillies according to your own taste. Love your addition of the pitted prunes! :)

  28. Hi, I was wondering how many serves this biryani is?
    Recipe looks so delicious xx

    1. The biryani should serve at least 4, if not more.

  29. Wow Very Good Looking and Tasty Looking Biryani I will try this at home and do u have a recipe of Arabic Fish Kasba ?

  30. ASA wr wb. I cooked this last night and my wife and family were gobsmacked by the results. Jzkhr for the amazing recipe. You got me confused with the dried plums Vs dried prunes - it is plums right?

    1. Yes, it is plums. We call them aloo bukhara. So glad the biryani was such a hit!

  31. Thank you for the detailed instruction and pics! Made it twice and it came out great :-)

  32. Salaam! Finally a recipe that looks easy to follow, thank you for that! I'm a newbie to cooking and finally want to try biryani! I'd like make half of this recipe since it's just two of us.. do you think taste would be altered a lot if I simply halved your ingredients and would cooking time have to be reduced?


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  34. Thank you so much for this recipe! It is perfect. I have made this 4 times during lockdown for my family and they absolutely love it. I've always wanted to learn to cook this dish and i'm so happy I found your recipe. It is awesome. thank you.

    1. So glad you've been enjoying the biryani so much! 😊

  35. Salaams sister and ty for sharing your recipe jus a quick question about the chicken 1 and half lbs....what's this if using breast piece in grams plz xxxxx

  36. Hello! Can't wait to try this recipe, it sounds delicious. Quick question: is it 2 1/2 cups cooked or uncooked rice? Thanks!

  37. Salam, after I tried this recipe, my family would only agree to eat this homemade biryani....refuse any others....even Shan's! The best.

  38. The chicken we are talking about here is very useful and the recipe is also good which I will make at home. Do you need a kitchen appliances for any recipe?


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