Happy Holidays! Consider this biryani recipe as my gift to you, because you will be making this nonstop after the first try!
Biryani is a very famous dish in basically every region of India. Every region has its own specialty biryani that is just as delicious as the next! The ingredients, spices, seasonings and cooking methods differ as well, which makes this “rice dish” come to life in the most incredible ways!
The recipe I’m sharing with you is a mix of North Indian and South Indian flavors. I’ve been eating this type of biryani since my childhood and love it so much, that I have had no problems eating it for breakfast, lunch and dinner on the same day! And trust me – I’m still doing this even today! Haha!
Biryani itself is a pretty complicated dish. There are alot of steps involved to get the perfect taste and consistency in the rice. I have known relatives and friends who have spent their entire 6-8hr day just preparing this dish!
In a nutshell, “Biryani” is a layered rice dish where different vegetables and/or meats are added in between and then either baked or cooked on the stove, resulting in a perfectly flavored rice with tender pieces of seasoned meat in it. I know it may not sound like a big deal, but once you’ve tried ANY Biryani dish, you will truly understand how delicious and complex it is. It is like no other dish you will ever have!
For my Chicken Biryani recipe, I use alot of mint, lemon juice and lemon rinds. With all the spices in the ingredients, the mint and lemon really add an amazing balance to all the heat and flavors from the spices. Plus, I add alot of freshly friend onions and coriander in the mix, to add another layer of flavor to the biryani. And to make it a prettier dish, I add a layer of colored rice that I mix into the biryani for an extra “pop.” The result is so worth the effort! I promise!
Also, I’ve tried my best to simplify the steps more than usual, so you are not in the kitchen prepping this one dish for over 6hrs! Don’t worry – I’m looking out for you and your sanity! Haha!
Chicken Biryani is usually made in “family size” portions, so feel free to take these recipe measurements and cut them in half for a smaller portion.
Servings: 1 large metal foil tray (~16 to 20 people)
- 3 boxes of Shan Sindhi Biryani Mix
- 6 lbs. of boneless and skinless chicken thighs (cut into medium size chunks)
- 5 to 6 large size onions (thinly sliced)
- 2 bunches of mint (about 30-35 twigs worth)
- 5 large lemons (juiced)
- 3-4 lemon rinds (rough ends cut off)
- 1 bunch coriander/parsley (roughly chopped)
- 5 to 5 ½ cups of good quality Basmati Rice
- 2 cups of ghee or oil (vegetable or canola)
- Biryani food coloring (about ½ tsp. for coloring rice)
- Rice seasoning (3 bay leaf, 1 stick cinnamon, 7-8 cloves, 7-8 cardamom pods, 2 whole anise seeds)
- Extra Oil for frying onions
- Salt for sprinkling on fried onions.
1. Shan Brand is my personal recommendation as I’ve been using for years and their spice blends have been consistent and well balanced for a biryani dish.
2. You can replace the chicken with any other protein. If using shrimp, make the biryani as instructed, except add the shrimp into the 2nd part of the cooking process to avoid any shrinking.
3. If making a vegetable based biryani, use same process, except reduce cooking time by 5 minutes or until veggies are fork tender.
- In a large wok or frying pan, add ghee/oil and fry onions in small batches till golden brown and semi-crispy. Remove from heat, place on a napkin-covered plate and salt generously. Set aside.
- In a blender, add lemon juice, lemon rinds, mint and blend all together till it is fully blended into a chunky liquid. (Very small bits and pieces is fine. They will cook down on stove.)
- Using the same oil from the friend onions, add chicken pieces, Shan Biryani Masala packs, blended lemon & mint mixture into the large frying pan on medium heat.
- Toss all ingredients gently till all chicken is covered and ingredients mixed well together.
- Cover and cook on medium-low heat setting for about 25-30 minutes (checking and tossing in between a few times) or until the chicken is fully cooked. (There will be a lot of gravy and liquid from the chicken – this is fine and will be needed to complete the biryani dish.) Turn off heat and set aside.
- In another large pot, add rice, put all the rice aromatics in a sachet or tied cheesecloth and fill with water till it is about 3-4 inches above the top of rice.
- Allow the rice to cook uncovered for about 15-20 minutes on medium-low heat or until the rice is a little past al dente, but not too soft. (You want the rice to be fully cooked but not mushy at all. You will need to check the rice a few times once water begins to boil.) Rice should be right texture by 20 minutes.
- Once rice is cooked, place a large colander or sieve in sink and drain all the extra water out of pot. You want to drain the hot water out completely and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and cool off rice quicker. (You may also remove all the sachet of aromatics at the same time.)
- Take about 2-3 cups of the cooled, plain rice and place in a separate mixing bowl. Add the food coloring and mix with spoon gently till the rice turns color.
- Take a large metal tray/large roasting pan and begin to layer all the ingredients until top layer is rice. (white rice > chicken > colored rice…white rice > chix > colored rice.etc.)
- If there is any remaining gravy, gently pour all over top layer of rice.
- Once the layering complete, sprinkle the cooled friend onions all over top of the biryani.
- Sprinkle the coriander/parsley on top of onions till fully covered.
- Bake at 350 degrees loosely covered with foil for about 30-35 minutes.
- Remove from oven, mix biryani till all layers (white rice, chicken, colored rice, etc.) are fully incorporated together. Mix gently.
- Bake uncovered for about another 15-20 minutes or until you see the top layer look a little golden brown. (This will also help any excess liquid evaporate a little more to help avoid a soggy biryani.)
- After time, remove from oven.
- Serve hot with a cumin or veggie raita. (Indian yogurt sauce)
NOTE: Recipe for RAITA below:
- In a large bowl, mix 1 32oz. container of plain yogurt, 1 cucumber diced into small pieces, 1 medium onion diced into small pieces, 1 Tbsp ground cumin powder (fresh if possible), 1 Tbsp salt (add more if desired)
- Mix all together till full blended and yogurt is smooth.
- Allow to cool in fridge for 20-30 minutes before serving.
There you have it! I know, some of you are probably thinking “is this lady crazy?” or “this seems too hard,” but this is a fail-proof recipe. I think with any special dish, a little effort and extra steps makes the result so much better. The love and time you put in will show through!
I hope you will love this dish, as much as I do! This is what I call a traditional “non-traditional” biryani dish that makes me happy everytime I cook it and eat it with my family/friends!
If you enjoyed this recipe, feel free to comment below or tag me on IG @cmspiceculture, or FB at “Spice Culture Cooking.”