Chicken Biryani

Okay, I’m not going to lie. Biryani is an investment (timewise). No part of making it is difficult, but there are a lot of ingredients and a lot of steps. The good news, though, is that the end result is worth it. This recipe (adapted from this one) makes quite a lot, so invite a friend or be prepared for delicious leftovers (or both, actually). 

I served this with medium-boiled eggs (a hit with the kids), a simple raita (minus the cayenne, per personal preference), and even simpler roasted tomatoes.


  • 6 (or more) pieces of chicken, skinless (I used bone-in thighs this time, but you could use drumsticks or a whole cut-up chicken)


  • bunch of cilantro, leaves only, chopped fine
  • ¼ cup mint, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste (in a tube in the produce section; I couldn’t find the two combined, so I used a tablespoon of each)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk (from a can; you’ll need more for the curry)
  • salt to taste


  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2-inch chunk of ginger, minced
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped fine
  • ½ cup mint, chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 6-7 whole cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 6-7 whole peppercorns
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 3 dry bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2  tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth (could also use water)
  • salt to taste


  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ small onion, julienned
  • 3 cups Basmati rice
  • 5 ½ cups of water or chicken broth
  • salt to taste


  • handful of cashews, roasted in ghee
  • lime wedges


  1. Combine the marinade ingredients. Make slits in the chicken, coat with the marinade, and let rest for a few hours or overnight.
  2. To make the curry, saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in oil until translucent. Remove from heat and cool. Mix together the cooked onions, cilantro, and mint. In a deep skillet, roast the whole spices (cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise, and bay leaves) in ghee until their aromas are released. Return the onion mixture to the pan and cook until the oil starts separating. Add the dry spices (cumin, tumeric, and garam masala), sauté for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk and brothand bring to a boil. Add the marinated chicken pieces and cook on medium until the meat is fully cooked. Let the curry cool until just warm.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice. Roast the whole spices (cloves, cardamom, and bay leaf) in ghee, and the sauté the onions in the same. When the onions are soft, add the Basmati rice and roast for a few minutes. Add water and salt and cook the rice until just done. Let it cool to warm. (I cooked the rice in my rice cooker.)
  4. When ready to assemble, spread the rice in a deep, oven-proof pan. Little by little add the curry and gently tossed until the rice is just wet. For 3 cups of raw rice, you will need about a cup and a half of the curry (and you’ll have about that much left over). Arrange the chicken pieces around the dish, cover with a bit rice, so they don’t dry out. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Check halfway through to see if the biryani is drying out. If so, add more curry and gently toss.
  5. To serve, scoop out the rice into a platter, arrange the chicken around and sprinkle roasted cashews over.

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