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Indian Chicken Biryani Recipe

  • Author: Lisa
  • Total Time: 1 hour (plus marinating time)
  • Yield: 5-6 servings 1x


A casserole of tender boneless chicken curry layered with fragrant basmati rice.



Equipment: Large heavy skillet with a lid or a double layer of heavy aluminum foil to cover it.

For The Marinated Chicken:

  • 1⅓ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into generous bite size pieces (1 inch pieces)
  • ½ cup full fat greek yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon mild chili powder or 1 teaspoon Aleppo Pepper, if you have it.
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala, divided
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste, divided (see notes)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers or other spicy peppers, halved lengthwise. Remove seeds and pith unless you like a LOT of heat.
  • Kosher salt

For The Rice: 1½ cups raw basmati rice (11 ounces)

To Cook The Chicken:

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 14-ounce can of good quality Italian plum tomatoes and their juice (1½ cups tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste (remaining from above)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt to taste

To Assemble The Biryani:

  • ¼ teaspoon of saffron threads soaked in ¼ cup of hot milk for a few minutes. (I heated the milk in the microwave) Rub the saffron between your fingertips to break it up as you add it to the hot milk.
  • ½ teaspoon garam masala (remaining from above)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Marinate The Chicken: Mix marinade ingredients in a large bowl -  yogurt, turmeric, chili powder, ½ teaspoon garam masala, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste, chili peppers and ½ teaspoon salt. Toss with the chicken to coat. Set aside and marinate for 30 minutes or cover and marinate in the fridge as long as overnight.
  2. Rinse and Cook The Rice: In a large bowl cover rice with cold water by a few inches, swish it with your hands to release the starch and pouring off the cloudy water. Repeat 2 or 3 times until the water is clear. Cook the rice partially - about ⅓ less time than the package recommends. I usually cook mine 8-10 minutes. Scoop rice into a bowl and cool.
  3. Cook The Chicken: Roughly chop or break apart the plum tomatoes and put them in a small bowl with the tomato paste and stir well to combine. Set aside. Heat oil or ghee in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the cardamom pods and cumin seeds. Fry, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 15 - 20 seconds until fragrant. Add the onions and sauté for 8 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until they soften. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of ginger-garlic paste and the ground coriander. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or so until fragrant. Add the chicken and spread it out in the pan into an even layer. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook chicken, undisturbed, for 3 minutes. Flip chicken over and cook it on the other side for 2 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Assemble The Biryani: Spread half the rice evenly over the chicken. Sprinkle on 1 tablespoon chopped mint, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, ¼ teaspoon garam masala and ¼ teaspoon salt. Drizzle on 2 tablespoons of saffron milk. Repeat with the rest of the rice, herbs, remaining ¼ teaspoon garam masala, ¼ teaspoon salt and saffron milk. Cover the pan and simmer on very low heat for 10 minutes. Let the biryani rest with the lid on for 5 minutes or so.
  5. Serve with Cucumber Raita. Chutney is also nice on the side.


How To Make Ginger-garlic paste: An easy way to make a small amount of ginger Ginger-garlic paste is to use a garlic press for the garlic and a microplane zester/grater for the grating the ginger. For this recipe you'll need 1 tablespoon of pressed garlic and 1 tablespoon of grated ginger. You may need as many as 6 or 7 garlic cloves, depending on their size. You'll probably need a 2-inch or larger chunk of ginger root - big enough so you can grasp it while you're grating it.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Chicken, One-pan chicken dinner, Chicken Biryani recipe