Make Ambur Star Biryani at home with this easy and detailed recipe. Often the dishes we grew up eating offer unique warmth and comfort. For us, one such dish would be the Biryani, the classic evergreen fare of Indians. We unanimously gorge on this dish especially during celebratory times. And down in South India especially in Tamil Nadu, Ambur Biryani would be the one that a lot of people love the most. A biryani is a delightful treat with tons of flavors!
Ambur biryani is a delightful one-pot meal with succulent pieces of meat cooked to perfection along with the aromatic jeera samba rice, mint leaves, coriander leaves and whole spices. The flavor and taste of meat is more dominant in Ambur biryani than the other ones due to the fewer spices used.
The mildly flavored rice is light on the stomach since it is not ghee-laden with many spices like the other biryani varieties. While making this mixed rice biryani, do not use green chilies and ghee.
Instead, rely on dried red chilies which is the key here. The spiciness of the Ambur biryani comes from the usage of fresh, dried chili paste, which makes all the difference in flavor and taste.
Ambur, a small town in the Vellore district of Tamil Nadu, famous for its lip-smacking biryani and its leather manufacturing units, can be considered as the place of origin of the Star Ambur Briyani.
History traces it further to the kitchen of the Nawabs of Arcot, who had connections with the Hyderabadi Nizams. Arcot, which is near to Ambur, was a central commercial hub of trade during the 18th century, and it is for this reason the Ambur rice was known as Arcot rice initially.
The biryani became famous when Hussain Baig, who cooked in the Mughal kitchen, started selling his biryani from home. Later a Hotel was established so that the commoner also got to taste the royal food. The restaurant now has outlets in all the major cities and has gained much adulation all over India. They even have one in Singapore, the country where I live.
Ambur Biryani Vs Other varieties of Biryani
Rice: Ambur biriyani is made with short-grain rice, known as jeeraga samba rice. Samba refers to the samba season (August to January) during which the rice is grown. With an ovular shape, it is one-third the size of the basmati rice and therefore called jeera rice since its physical appearance is small, like cumin or jeera.
The rice is much harder than the other varieties, giving it a less fluffy texture. On top of that, this aromatic rice has distinct flavor-absorbing properties.
For this reason, the rice retains its texture and does not thicken into lumps. Moreover, samba rice absorbs the flavor of the masala quite well in contrast to biryani rice which gives out a strong flavor.
The samba rice is ideal for making this biriyani as it can absorb a large quantity of water without turning mushy.
Spice powder: The preparation of Ambur biriyani comes without any spice powder and does not use Garam Masala. Instead, the recipe uses only a few whole spices such as cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon.
Mode of cooking: The original Ambur biriyani is made on a wood fire and slow-cooked by using the dum technique.
Try making this Ambur biriyani and enjoy the meal with your dear ones. The taste and flavor of this biriyani are very close to what I got to taste from their outlet.
Pro Tips & Notes
- I have included a video for this recipe. Do watch it.
- If you want to make the Ambur biriyani less spicy, you can remove the seeds from the red chili.
- To serve: You can serve it along with ennai kathirikai and onion or cucumber raita. Ennai kathirikai is a spicy and sour brinjal curry that goes perfectly with the rice. Eat the raita with a bit of rice towards the end of your meal as it functions like a digestive.
- What’s more, it would be best to have a Suleimani chai (lemon black tea) after the biryani. A lot of fat from the meal may clog the digestive pathway, and the hot tea clears it all.
- Storage: Leftover biriyani will stay good for up to four days in the refrigerator when stored properly in air-tight containers. But make sure not to reheat twice once cooked as it will turn rancid and is unhealthy.
- This recipe cannot be used to make Ambur mutton biryani. Mutton requires water for cooking which I have not used here.
To make ambur star mutton biryani, water is used to cook the meat. But in this recipe I have made it without using water as chicken itself will ooze out lot of moisture while cooking. This recipe has been adapted from a Tamil channel. All the measurements given below are mine. They work out well and comes close to the Ambur biriyani that I had eaten in Singapore.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 500 grams Chicken or ½ kg
- 1 ½ cups seeraga samba rice or jeeraga samba
- 3 tbsp oil
- 4 inch cinnamon sticks / dalchini
- 8 to 10 cloves
- 8 to 10 green cardamoms
- 2 tbsp sliced onions
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 Handful coriander leaves , chopped
- 6 to 8 red chilies deseeded & soaked in water – about 2 tbsp paste
- ½ cup onions sliced.
- ¼ cup tomato or 1 medium ripe, deseeded and sliced (do not use sour ones)
- 1 ½ tbsp curd
- 1 tbsp Lemon juice
- 1 Handful mint / pudina chopped finely
- 1 Handful coriander leaves finely chopped
Preparation for Ambur biryani
- Wash and soak rice for 10 mins. This is optional. Drain and set aside.
- Deseed & soak red chilies for about an hour. Make a fine paste with little water used for soaking.
- Heat oil in a pan and saute cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms
- Add 2 tbsps onions and saute for 1 to 2 mins.
- Saute garlic paste for a minute and then ginger paste as well for a minute.
- Add coriander leaves and mint. Saute until it begins to smell good. This may take about 2 mins.
- Add the red chilli paste and saute everything together until oil begins to separate.
- Add half cup onions and fry for 2 to 3 mins until they turn transparent.
- Add tomatoes and fry until they turn very soft and mushy.
- Add chicken and fry on a low to medium heat until the chicken turns pale or white. This may take about 2 to 3 mins.
- Add curd and salt.
- Cover the pot and cook for 5 mins on a very low heat. Chicken begins to ooze out moisture.
- Mix it and continue to cook until chicken turns completely soft.
Cooking biryani rice
- While the chicken cooks, bring water to a boil in a large pot with salt.
- Add drained rice and cook until 70% done. At this stage rice is still under cooked and you will very well know that it is undone if you bite it. The grain will still be hard in the center.
- Make sure chicken is soft cooked before adding rice. Add coriander and mint leaves. Mix and level the mixture. At this stage you will see lot of moisture that has been released while cooking chicken.
- Drain the rice completely and add it to the chicken pot.
- Gently stir for the rice to get mixed with the moisture from chicken.
Cooking Ambur biryani
- Cover and cook on the lowest heat until the rice has absorbed all the moisture. You can also use a old dosa tawa/ griddle for dum process. To do that heat a griddle first, then place this biryani pot over it. Cook until rice is done.
- Open the lid and mix gently again.
- If the rice is under cooked and there is no moisture you may sprinkle some warm water. Stir and cook covered. However I did not use any water at this stage.
- Once the rice is done, fluff up well and cover it again. Cook for another 2 mins. Switch off and rest for about 5 to 20 mins before serving. Fluff up with a fork before serving.
- Serve Ambur biryani with ennai kathirikai and raita.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This post on Ambur Biryani was first published in February 2017. Updated and republished in January 2022
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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