chicken Biryani


Biyani, is the most popular and celebrated dish of pakistani cuisine. So much so that there are countless restaurants and and food joints which just serve biryani. Yes! you read it right, only one dish on the menu. Not only this, just like pizza delivery, hot steaming boxes of biryani are also delivered to homes. Its a must-have on menus of ceremonies Pakistan regardless of what the occasion is.


Infact I haven’t attended any wedding in my life where biryani wasn’t gracing the buffet table. That’s not just the case in Pakistan, even here in Jersey it’s always there, on the buffets to dining table at dawats, always smelling appetizing and making guests devouring for it.


It does look like it needs a lot of work, there are more than just a few ingredients required and then you have several steps. It also takes patience, but the biryani is worth all the patience, and steps required.I learned this from my Mother-in-Law, whose biryani is very famous in our friends and family. Once you have made it few times and get hang of the steps involved I can assure you that it would seem the easiest of recipes.

fried onions

Just a few tips for you:

√ 3 lemons should yield 6 tablespoons of juice, so if you aren’t using fresh lemons and using lemon juice instead you know how much to use.

√ 1 bunch of mint leaves usually weighs a little more than 3 ounces.

√ The marinating of chicken, can be done a night or a day before. The chicken actually tastes better because being marinated longer in lemon juice, yogurt and spices.

√ Practice Mis en place – “putting in place“- all the way,everyday with every dish. Which means preparing, organizing ingredients and tools needed in cooking.

First layer of rice with mint and garam masala.
First layer of rice with mint and garam masala.


For the chicken curry:
  • 2 lbs Chicken
  • 1 cup whipped, yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons ginger paste
  • 2 tablespoons garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon red chilli
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1 cup oil
  • 4 medium-sized, finely sliced, onions 4
  • 6 Small cardamom 
  • ½ cup Dried plums
  • 2 Lemons 
  • 6 Chopped tomatoes
For boiling the Rice:
  • 3 cup Banaspati rice
  • 5 to six quarts of water, for boiling rice.
  • 4  Bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Black cumin
  • 6 Black peppercorns
  • 6 Cloves
  • 1 bunch of Chopped mint leaves 
For layering the Biryani:
  • 5 Green chilies
  • 1 cup chopped, cilantro
  • food color 1/4 tsp
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • Salt to taste
Second Layer, chicken biryani masala.
Second Layer, chicken biryani masala.


Marinate and cook chicken:
  • After washing the chicken throughly, marinate it with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, red chili, coriander powder, 2 lemons juiced and salt and keep for 30 minutes. You can do this the night before for more tasteful chicken.
  • Heat oil in a large and wide pot, fry onions until golden brown, do not over-fry.
  • Remove ¼ of fried onions along with some oil and reserve it for layering.
  • In the remaining oil, fry m for a few minutes, then add chopped tomatoes and cook until almost all the moisture from tomatoes is gone.
  • Next, add the marinated chicken to the pot with the fried onions and tomatoes, cook on medium heat. Stir often and cook until tender. When chicken is done, set aside.
  • Boil the rice:
  • In a large stock pot, put water to boil. Add cumin, bay leaves, peppercorns, chopped mint and cloves to water.
  • Wash rice and soak in warm water. Drain soaked rice and add to the pot when the water comes to a roaring boil.
  • Keep a close eye on the rice while it boils, it should be done in less than 10 minutes, you can check the rice’s doneness by taking a few kernels out and pressing between two fingers. It should be easy to mash but not super soft.
  • Keep the strainer or colander ready so you can drain water as soon as the rice is done.
  • Time to layer!
Third and last layer of rice with fried onions on the top.
Third and last layer of rice with fried onions on the top.

Like I mentioned earlier, do practice mis en place while layering biryani. It makes the process a breeze.

  • Pre heat oven at 400ºF.
  • Grease a large aluminum foil tray, first put a layer of rice at the bottom of the tray using half of the rice.
  • Scatter some cilantro and all of green chillies, sprinkle garam masala and squeeze half a lemon.
  • Now make layer of chicken, use all of it.
  • Then make layer of remaining rice and put fried onion  and oil on top.
  • Mix yellow food color in lemon juice and add in it.
  • Cover the tray with foil, securing the sides completely to lock the steam inside.
  • the cooking time is around 40 mins. What we need is lots of steam, which is a sign that the biryani is done.
  • After 40 minuteness, check by removing a little of foil if steam comes up, remove biryani from the oven.
  • Keep it covered and serve hot with raita.
Biryani is served
Biryani is served

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