Chicken biryani recipe with video & step-by-step photos. Biryani is one of the most amazing royal delicacies introduced to Indians by the Persians. Since then it has been much popular and is considered to be a luxurious treat to enjoy on special occasions. Making a chicken biryani in authentic dum style does take some time and needs little expertise.
Traditional chicken biryani is made by layering marinated chicken at the bottom of a pot followed by another layer of par cooked rice, herbs, saffron infused milk & ghee. I have shared that traditional Hyderabadi biryani here.
The recipe shared here in this post details a short cut method to make a simple one pot delicious chicken biryani that you can make in a pressure cooker or a pot.
So what I have shared in this post is not a dum style biriyani yet it will surprise you with a good aroma and taste.
This recipe yields a chicken biryani that isn’t too oily, spicy, hot or pungent as it looks to be in the pictures. However you can reduce the amount of red chili powder if you do not prefer the heat. This is best served with a Raita, Shorba, lassi and papads.
You can also find the old version of this chicken biryani recipe towards the end of this post as recipe 2.
How To Make Chicken Biryani (Stepwise photos)
Preparation – Marination
1. This recipe needs half kg chicken (1.1 lbs.). Make few slits on all the chicken pieces and add to a large bowl. Then add
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt (Indian curd)
- 1¼ tablespoons ginger garlic paste
- ½ to 1 tablespoon garam masala (or biriyani masala)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder (reduce for kids)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
2. Mix everything well and marinate the chicken. Cover and set this aside for 1 hour. You can also rest it overnight in the fridge.
3. Meanwhile add 2 cups basmati rice to a large pot and rinse it at least thrice. Drain and soak in fresh water for 30 mins. Drain to a colander after 30 mins. Optional – Soak a pinch of saffron strands in 2 tablespoons hot milk.
4. Heat ghee or oil in a heavy bottom pot or pressure cooker. Make sure you use a large one for this. Using whole spices is optional but recommended. Use whatever you have. I use
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 green cardamoms
- 6 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon piece
- 1 star anise
- ¾ teaspoon shahi jeera (caraway seeds)
- 1 strand mace
5. Add thinly sliced onions. On a medium heat, fry them stirring often until uniformly light brown.
6. This is the correct color of the onions. Do not burn them as they leave a bitter taste. (check video)
7. Add marinated chicken & saute until it becomes pale for 5 minutes.
8. Lower the flame completely. Cover and cook until the chicken is soft, tender and completely cooked.
9. Check if the chicken is cooked by pricking with a fork or knife. It has to be just cooked and not overdone. Evaporate any excess moisture left in the pot by cooking further without the lid.
10. Taste test and add more salt if needed. I added ¼ more salt here. Add
- ¼ cup plain yogurt (Indian curd)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (or biryani masala)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
- 1 slit green chili pepper (optional)
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves (pudina)
Make chicken biryani
11. Mix everything well. Spread it evenly in a single layer.
12. Layer drained rice all over the chicken. To a separate pot, pour 3 cups water and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt. If cooking in a pot (not cooker), start with 3 cups water at this stage.
Stir and taste the water. It must be slightly salty. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Pour 2 cups of this hot water across the sides of the cooker or pot. Pour rest of the water over the rice gently. (check video)
13. Level the rice gently on top. Add 2 tablespoons more mint leaves.Do not mix up everything, the taste of the biryani cooked in the shown method is good. Optionally you can sprinkle 2 tablespoons fried onions & saffron soaked milk.
14. Finally cover the pot or cooker.
If cooking in a pot, cook on a medium heat until the rice is cooked completely. If the rice is undercooked & there is no more water left at the bottom of the pot, pour ¼ to ½ cup boiling water at this stage. How much water to add depends on the quality of basmati rice. Cook covered until the biryani rice is perfectly done, grainy and fully cooked. Rest it covered for 15 mins.
If cooking in a cooker, cook until you hear 1 whistle. Later remove the cooker from the hot burner to stop cooking further.
15. When the pressure releases naturally, open the lid. Gently fluff up with a fork.
Towards the end if the rice is under cooked, you can sprinkle little hot water & cook covered further.
What you need for a good biryani?
To make a good biryani, always use best quality ingredients. The choice of good quality basmati rice, whole spices, spice powders, chicken & ghee all contribute to the flavors of chicken biryani.
1.Basmati rice: There are so many kinds of basmati rice available in the market. For best results choose premium quality basmati rice that is labelled as AGED. This kind of rice is more firm & fluffs up well in chicken biryani without turning mushy. Aged rice is also more fragrant.
Though this biryani is made in a pressure cooker or pot, the texture of rice grains will come out right without getting mushy if made with aged rice.
I am also sharing the ingredients for an instant biriyani masala powder. If you do not have a ready made or store bought masala, you can make it in just few minutes.
3.Chicken: We usually use up the cut whole chicken to make the chicken biryani. However I always find chicken breast pieces dry out if not marinated well with yogurt. If you prefer soft, tender & succulent pieces of chicken in your biryani, then just use chicken thighs & drumsticks.
Always use bone-in chicken as it helps the dish to turn out more flavorful.
4.Ghee : Traditionally chicken biryani was made using ghee. Since this recipe does not follow the traditional method, you can also make it using oil. But ghee adds a unique aroma to the dish.
How to make the best chicken biryani?
- Marination: Marinating chicken with yogurt & spices is the first key step to make the best chicken biryani. Yogurt tenderizes the chicken & the spices enhance the flavors. Marinating and resting chicken makes it soft & succulent, so do not skip that. If you do not eat curd then can substitute it with coconut milk.
- Preparing rice : Basmati rice has to be rinsed very well a few times in ample amount of water to get rid of the starch. This prevents the rice grains from turning mushy. Soaking the rice helps to cook the rice grains to fluffy & long. So do not skip rinsing & soaking the rice well before using.
- Water : This recipe uses plain water to cook the chicken biryani. However it can be replaced with chicken stock. The quantity of water I have mentioned in the recipe card works well for me with Lalquilla old malai basmati rice. This ratio works pretty well with any aged basmati rice.
- Please do adjust the amount of heat in the recipe. My recipes are usually low on heat for the Indian taste buds. Since I have young kids at home., these levels work well for us.
Chicken Biryani Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
Marinade for chicken biryani
- ½ kg chicken (1.l lbs)
- 3 tablespoons plain yogurt (curd or dahi)
- 1¼ tablespoons ginger garlic paste (1 inch ginger & 4 garlic cloves crushed)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to tase)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder (or paprika) (use less spicy variety)
- ½ to 1 tablespoon garam masala (or biryani masala) (Refer notes)
- 1 tablespoon Lemon juice (optional)
Whole spices (skip if you don’t have any)
- 1 bay leaf (tej patta)
- 4 green cardamoms (choti elaichi)
- 6 cloves (lavang)
- 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
- 1 star anise (chakri phool )
- ¾ teaspoon shahi jeera (caraway seeds) (substitute with cumin)
- 1 strand mace (javitri)
Other ingredients for chicken biryani
- 2 cups basmati rice (aged rice only)
- 2 tablespoon ghee or Oil
- 1 large onion sliced thinly
- ¼ to ½ cup mint leaves chopped fine (about 15 leaves)
- 1 green chili (slit or chopped)
- ¼ cup plain yogurt (Indian curd)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional, for heat)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala (or biryani masala)
- 3 cups water (3½ cups for pot) (refer notes, more if needed )
- ¾ teaspoon salt (to stir in water)
- 2 tablespoon fried onions (optional)
- 1 pinch saffron (optional)(soaked in 2 tbsps hot milk)
- To a bowl, add yogurt, ginger garlic paste, salt, garam masala, turmeric, lemon juice & red chili powder.
- Mix up well and taste the marinade. Add more salt and spice if needed.
- Make slits on the chicken pieces. Add it to the marinade & mix well. Cover and set aside for 1 hour to overnight.
- Rinse basmati rice thrice and soak for 30 mins. Drain to a colander after 30 mins.
How to make Chicken Biryani
- Heat ghee or oil in a pot or pressure cooker.
- Add whole spices – bay leaf, cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, shahi jeera & mace. Skip them if you do not have.
- When the spices begin to sizzle, add onions & fry them evenly stirring often until uniformly light brown but not burnt.
- Add chicken & saute until pale for 5 mins on a medium heat.
- Cover & cook on a low flame until the chicken is soft cooked or tender. Saute to evaporate any excess moisture in the pot.
- Taste test and add more salt if needed. Add yogurt (curd), half of the chopped mint leaves, slit green chili, red chili powder & garam masala.½ to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 green chili, ¼ cup plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon garam masala
- Mix everything well and layer chicken evenly at the bottom. (check video)
- Spread drained rice in a layer over the chicken.
- To a separate pot, pour water. If cooking in a pot use more water.
- Add salt and mix. Taste the water. It must be slightly salty. Bring this to a rolling boil.
- Pour 2 cups of this water across the sides of the cooker or pot. Gently pour the rest on top of the rice. (check video)
- Level the rice if needed. Sprinkle the rest of the mint leaves. Optionally add fried onions & saffron soaked milk if using.
- Pot method – If cooking in a pot, cover and cook on a medium flame until the rice in the chicken biryani is cooked completely but not mushy or undercooked. If the rice is still under cooked or hard & there is no water at the bottom, pour ¼ to ½ cup more boiling water depending on the kind of rice used and cook further. When done it has to be fully cooked, yet remain grainy but not mushy.
- Cooker method – Set the flame to medium high. Cover & place the whistle. Cook until you hear 1 whistle. Move the cooker away from the burner to stop cooking further.
- Rest until the pressure drops naturally. Fluff up the chicken biryani with a fork.
- Serve from top to the bottom layer. Each serving gets biryani rice from top and chicken from the bottom layer.
- Water: The amount of water to use depends on the brand of basmati rice. Not all basmati rice need the same amount of water. So for pot method, start with 3 cups water. Towards the end if the rice is undercooked, pour ¼ to ½ cup boiling water and cook further. You will need to experiment a bit with the right amount here.
- Tomatoes: An authentic biryani never uses tomatoes, so I have not used in the recipe. It does not add any taste infact alters the flavor. If you still want to use you an follow the second recipe I have posted below.
- To make biryani masala or garam masala – Powder together very small piece of nutmeg, 5 cardamoms, ½ tsp pepper, 5 cloves, 1 to 2 inch cinnamon, ½ tsp fennel seeds, ½ tsp stone flower.
- Yogurt or curd: Do not use sour curd. If the curd is slightly sour then skip using lemon juice.
- Rice: I have used lalquilla basmati rice, old malai. Any other basmati rice may need less or more water. Make sure to use as needed.
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 is the old version of the same chicken biryani many readers have been following since 2012. Upon getting several requests I have updated it here.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml)
Whole spices to Temper
1 bay leaf / tej patta
3 green cardamoms / choti elaichi
4 to 6 cloves / lavang
1 Cinnamon stick / dalchini, Small
1 Star anise / chakri phool
½ tsp shahi jeera / caraway seeds
1 ½ tbsp curd / yogurt
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Salt as needed
¼ tsp turmeric / haldi
¼ tsp red chilli powder / lal mirch powder
½ to ¾ tsp biryani masala or garam masala powder
½ kg chicken
2 cups basmati rice / chawal , aged
3 ¼ cups water or thin coconut milk(if using normal rice use little more water)
2 tbsp Oil
Salt as needed
1 tomato medium , (about half cup)
1 ½ tbsp curd / yogurt / dahi
12 mint leaves / pudina finely chopped
12 stems coriander leaves finely chopped
1 ½ tsp ginger garlic paste
2 green chilies / hari mirch sliced or chopped
1 onion large , sliced thinly
¼ tsp red chili powder
(or use 2 tsps readymade biryani masala or garam masala )
1 nutmeg / jaiphal piece , Very small
4 green cardamoms / choti elaichi
¼ to ½ tsp Pepper corn / kali mirch
5 cloves / lavang
1 cinnamon stick / dalchini, Small
½ tsp fennel seeds / saunf
½ tsp stone flower / dagad phool/ kalapasi (optional)
Preparation for the recipe
- Soak rice for at least 20 to 30 minutes. If using normal rice (not basmati) soak it for 30 minutes.
- Marinate chicken using ingredients under marination. Set this aside.
Making chicken biryani
- Add oil to a pot or pressure cooker and heat it. Next add the dry spices and saute till they begin to sizzle.
- Add onions and fry till they turn golden. Fry ginger garlic paste till the raw smell goes off.
- Next add chicken and fry till the color slightly changes to pale.
- Add chopped tomatoes, yogurt, red chili powder, corinader leaves and mint.
- Cook till the mixture turns thick and dry. By now the chicken should be almost cooked soft.
- Add the rest of the masala powder and fry till you get a nice smell.
- Mix together water or thin coconut milk and salt in a separate bowl. Check the salt , it must be slightly salty. Since salt is already added to marination, use little only. Pour this to a the chicken pot, bring it to a boil.
- Drain off the rice completely and add it to the pot or cooker.
- Cook till the water very little is left. Cover the pot or pressure cooker with a lid. Turn on the flame to very low. If using basmati rice, cook it for about 3 to 5 minutes, do not let it whistle. Or If using normal rice that is slightly on the harder side to cook allow it to whistle once. If cooking in pot, cook until the rice is done. Next if rice is under cooked, you can also sprinkle little water and cook further.
- Let the pressure go down. Fluff up the rice with a fork. Or transfer it immediately to a wide utensil to prevent turning mushy.
- If desired you can drizzle one spoon of ghee, coriander leaves and roasted boiled eggs.
- Serve pressure cooker chicken biryani with onion raita or biryani shorba or sherva.
Do not use thick coconut milk, it will split . You can dilute thick coconut milk and use it.
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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