Chicken Biryani
PREP TIME: 2 Hours
SERVES: 6 - 8

This delicious Indian rice dish is often reserved for very special occasions, such as weddings or holidays. Although the preparation time seems lengthy, it is definitely worth the work. Basmati rice, with its thin, fine grains, is perfect for this dish. However, you may substitute long grain rice. In India, ghee, clarified butter or butter that has been slowly melted so that the milk solids and butter fat separate, is often used in place of the vegetable oil in this recipe. This recipe was given to me by Mangala Deshmukh.


  • 1 (2½ pound) chicken
  • 1½ tsps crushed saffron
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 1-inch pieces cinnamon stick
  • 6 cloves
  • 3 pieces cardamom
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsps granulated garlic
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, diced
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 1 cup finely chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsps melted butter
  • ½ cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by cutting chicken into 8 serving pieces. Wash and set aside. Place the saffron in the microwave for 30 seconds to crisp and concentrate the flavor, then drop in 3 tbsps of hot water. Set aside to bloom. In a large dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat. Add cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and bay leaves. Sauté 2-3 minutes, then add onions and sauté until golden brown. Add the garlic and red chili powder, then sauté one minute. Add ginger and cook one minute longer. Add chicken, a few pieces at a time, and sauté, turning occasionally, to brown slightly on each side. Once all the chicken has been browned, remove and set aside. Add the fresh mint, cilantro and jalapeño, blending well into the mixture. Sauté 2-3 additional minutes. Add yogurt and 1 cup of water. Bring to a lower simmer. Soon, the oil will float to the top of the mixture. Carefully remove the oil (approximately ½ cup). Reserve for later use. Return the chicken to the pot. Bring to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. In a separate pot, place 10 cups of water, lightly salted, and bring to a boil. Wash the basmati rice 2-3 times under cold water to remove the excess starch. Add the rice to the boiling water along with the carrots. After 5 minutes, check to see if the rice is approximately ½ cooked. If the rice is half cooked, drain quickly in a colander and return to the pot. Add the saffron and blend well. Set aside. Add the lemon juice and melted butter to the reserved oil that was removed from the dutch oven. Arrange the rice on top of the cooked chicken mixture, drizzling in the oil over the rice at even intervals. Add ½ cup of milk to the mixture, cover tightly and cook over medium to low heat 30-40 minutes or until rice is steamed to a perfect cook and fluffy. Serve an equal portion of chicken and rice to each guest.

Note: You may wish to take the assembled casserole at 375°F covered for 45-50 minutes rather than cooking it on the stovetop.


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