Chicken biryani is one of the crowd favorites among Indian dishes. It’s delicious, flavorful, and filling, too. So satisfying. We have ordered this several times in Mediterranean restaurants. But one sad encounter made me decide to do my own research and wbhip up my own chicken biryani dish at home. And I will show you something better—I used only regular white rice that we usually cook for our meals. So who says we cannot innovate and have the taste that we like? Here is how I did it.
What Makes This Dish Stand Out
Basically, chicken biryani is just chicken cooked together with rice. If you like arroz ala Valenciana, the logic in cooking is pretty much the same.
But what makes the difference would be the rice used and the spices. The rice in this dish is a special kind of long grain called basmati rice.
Meanwhile, the dish also requires herbs and spices that make you imagine the hypnotic music and aromas in a scene from Aladdin. Clove, ginger, garlic, turmeric, chili, onions, and garam masala take center stage in this highly aromatic rice dish.
I do have some spices brought home by my uncle who used to work in Saudi Arabia. So I have garam masala as well as saffron — though the latter can be entirely optional.
But I think the garam masala is not negotiable. Your best bet would be local Indian stores or Shopee. As for the turmeric, I got the powder from the market or you can buy McCormick.
Instead of fresh mint leaves, I used fresh curry leaves because that’s what I have in the garden.
What I am saying is, there can be substitutes to what is required in recipes and you can will still get the goodness of the chicken biryani that you are looking for. The important thing is, taste test whatever you are cooking because then you will know if something is missing.
Make Chicken Biryani at Home
To recreate chicken biryani at home, I decided to use my non-stick pan and cook it the traditional way – chicken first, then rice over it.
Making this rice dish cannot happen in just an hour before dinnertime. So if you are in a hurry and are craving for this, your best bet would have to be the restaurant.
The preparation involves marinating overnight, cooking the chicken, and then cooking the rice together with the chicken.
Actual cooking time would take at least 2 hours, but you have to prepare the marinade the night before. Then allow the flavors to seep into the chicken while in the refrigerator.
Ingredients for marinade
- 1 whole chicken, sliced into serving portions
- 2 Thumb-sized pieces of ginger
- 6 garlic cloves
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (you can add more if you prefer it spicy)
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1 Tbsp. garam masala
- ½ tsp. Spanish paprika
- 6 Tbsps. yogurt
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1. Wash and drain the chicken. Slice into the meaty sections to let the flavors seep in. Transfer into a deep dish for marinating.
- 2. Using a cheese grater, grate the ginger and garlic. You may want to squeeze them together to make it paste-like, but I just left it as that.
- 3. Add all the rest of the dry ingredients and the yogurt, including about 1 tsp. of salt. Mix well.
- 4. Cover and let the chicken sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I have read that the yogurt will soften the meat so the longer it stays the better. I left the chicken in the marinade overnight in the refrigerator. Remember to chill it so that the meat will not spoil.
Ingredients for cooking
- Cooking oil
- 2 pcs. Star anise
- 2-3 pcs. dried bay leaves
- 1 tsp. cinnamon powder
- ½ tsp. dried clove powder (McCormick)
- 40 pcs. fresh curry leaves
- 2 onions, sliced in slivers
- Dried saffron soaked in ¼ cup milk
- 2 cups white rice, washed
- 1 chicken cube dissolved in 3 cups hot water
Note: Indian recipes prefer whole spices, but in their absence, I used the powdered ones I could find. I have never heard about some of the herbs and I haven’t seen them in local grocery stores so I just let it go.
Procedure for cooking
- 1. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and stir-fry the star anise, bay leaves, powders, and half of the curry leaves.
- 2. Add in the slivered onions and stir-fry until they are cooked through and browned a bit. Don’t overcook so that they won’t become bitter. Better watch the onions closely while stirring constantly.
- 3. When the onions are cooked enough, remove half of them and spread the remaining around the pan.
- 4. Fry the carrots for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the chicken and fry for about 5 minutes on each side. Add 1 cup of water and cover the pan. Cook covered until the liquid has been reduced significantly, about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- 5. Add 6 Tbsps. of yogurt and 1 tsp. garam masala and mix. You may want to adjust the heat (spiciness) a little bit by adding more cayenne pepper and some pepper flakes.
Cooking the Rice
Cooking tip: If you are using basmati rice, rinse it at least 3 times or until the rice water becomes clear. Soak it for 30 minutes prior to cooking. Basmati is quite sticky.
- 1. Wash the rice three times and drain well.
- 2. Add the rice into the pan and level it as much as you can over the chicken. DO NOT MIX.
- 3. Carefully pour the broth all over the rice, keeping the grains at a level. Spread the rest of the curry leaves and the fried onions all over the water. Pour the saffron with milk, making sure that they are spread out. Turn on the heat and cover.
- 4. Cook for another 10 minutes and check. If the liquid is already dried up and the rice is not yet cooked, add about ¼ cup of salted hot water all over the rice and cook some more.
Cooking tip: I moved the pan all around the stove so that the rice is cooked evenly at the bottom of the pan.
- 5. When the rice is almost cooked, turn off the fire and let the heat cook the rice through.
- 6. To serve, spoon the rice with the chicken on a platter. Serve with yogurt sauce.
How to Make Yogurt Sauce
Our eldest daughter, Achi Shawna, who is learning how to cook, is already able to identify flavors and what tastes well together. She said that the yogurt sauce brings all the flavors of the chicken biryani together and she feels that the rice is incomplete without it.
What you need:
- 1 cup of yogurt
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. brown sugar
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or calamansi juice
- 2 Tbsps. Cheese, grated (optional)
- Cucumbers, diced (optional)
Just mix everything well. Make the yogurt sauce a few hours before meal time so that you can chill it in the refrigerator.
We use the yogurt sauce on the rice and chicken, adding some with every spoonful. It does make all the difference, just like Achi Shawna said.
Meanwhile, here are other chicken recipes that you will find in this blog.
- Making things easy: Baked 40-Clove Garlic Chicken Recipe (Modified)
- Try this Easy Chicken Misono Recipe | Homecooking by Mommy Sigrid
- 3 Quesadilla recipes, including pesto chicken, that will get your children to eat vegetables
- Make Healthy Chicken Wraps with Yogurt Sauce at Home
- Serving pesto chicken on a plate of bulgur wheat