INDIAN – HYDERABADI Chicken Biryani –

      Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.- Dorothy Day


An Indian feast is only complete if there’s Biryani on the menu, don’t you’ll agree?  An invite for a carnivore means you are in for a BIG belly filling treat.   The gracious host never feels full filled if there’s one missing from their menu of chicken/lamb, egg, fish, shrimp and more….It sounds like a lot, but that’s the ritual that we Indians, in fact a lot of the cultures follow especially to celebrate a special day, special event and that special guest.  It’s an absolute satisfying meal followed by a satisfied heart. I would love to know what other parts of the world cook on a special day.  


Although a ninety percent vegetarian, I love a good biryani.  It’s something I relate to, to  my days back home.   My aunts, who are fabulous cooks, make some mean non vegetarian food.  They wait to cook their delicacies and fill me up whenever I visit home.  

My hubby dearest loves a good biryani, so when our friend called us over for a dinner, I expected good food( she is a great cook), but didn’t expect a feast.  It was like a Sunday afternoon in India on a Saturday night with everything from Hyderabadi Biryani which was cooked to perfection, chicken curry, egg curry very south indian style and an endless array of vegetarian spread.   Had a good laugh, good conversation with great food.  


Having tried so many places for a good biryani when I don’t want to slave over the stove, I always come back to the one we love, home made.  So this is an ode to my friend’s biryani, which takes some labor but made with patience and love it can make anyone smile.

Simmered with spices, the aroma spreading throughout the house, it is  elegant and bursts with flavor.  Serve it  with Salan(curry),  cucumber raita and a refreshingly easy strawberry lassi. 


For the marinade:   

Chicken                    – 2 lbs                                                                   
yogurt                      – 2 cup                                                                  
ginger- garlic            – 2 tbsp                                                                 
green chillies            – 2- 3 slit                                                               
mint leaves              – 1 cup chopped                                                
coriander leaves       – 1 cup chopped
cumin                       – 1/2 tsp
peppercorn               – 1 tsp
coriander powder      – 1/2 tsp
chili powder            – 1/2 tsp
whole spices 
cardamom, cloves,star anise, bay leaf,javitri- 2 of each        
onions                       –  4 onions shallow fried in oil
salt                           – to taste
ghee                         – 2 tbsp
oil                            –  2 tbsp


basmati rice              – 2 cups ( soaked in water for atleast 30 minutes or upto 2 hrs)

jeera/cumin              – 1 tsp
salt                          – 1 tsp
oil                            –  1 tsp
water                       – 6-7 cups
saffron                1 pinch soaked in some hot milk


1. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, ginger garlic paste, green chillies, 1/2 cup, mint leaves,1/2 cup coriander leaves, cumin powder, peppercorn, coriander powder, chili powder, whole spices, salt, 2 tbsp oil and 1/2 of the fried onion.  Mix well and marinate overnight or minimum for 4 hours.

2.  In a large pan, add water, add 1 tsp cumin/jeera, salt, 1 tbsp oil and let it come to a boil.  Then add the rice and cook the rice until it is half done.  Do not fully cook the rice.  This might take 5 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  Once it is half done, drain the rice in a colander and keep aside.
3. Now in a tight lidded pan, add the chicken which is marinated and spread it evenly through out the bottom of the pan.  Then add the half cooked rice on top of it.  Add the rest of chopped coriander and mint leaves on top of the rice with the rest of the fried onions.
4. Sprinkle the soaked saffron around the pan and close the lid.  Simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes.
I use a towel to cover the pan and then use the lid, that way, the air is trapped in and the biryani stays moist and doesn’t dry out.  
You could also put the biryani pan on top of a thick pan/tava and then simmer it for 40- 45 minutes, called the dum style.


Inspired by Vah Chef on YouTube…check him out, his recipes are the best.  His Hyderabi Biryani has been explained quite well on his channel.