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chicken biryani in a cast iron skillet with a serving spoon scooping some out

Indian Chicken Biryani Recipe

  • Author: Lisa Goldfinger
  • Total Time: 1 hr 30 mins
  • Yield: 4 generous servings 1x


This Chicken Biryani combines rich flavorful chicken curry and fragrant basmati rice into a hearty, delicious dish. Serve with cucumber raita on the side. This is a relatively quick biryani recipe to prepare. Although the prep time says an hour and 30 minutes, you can shorten that time if you do some of the prep work while the chicken marinates.
Adapted with inspiration from Panning The Globe's Lamb Biryani recipe, this recipe by Swasthi's Recipes and this one by Maunika Gowardhan.


Units Scale

For The Marinated Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup full fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon mild chili powder (note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala, divided
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste, divided (note 2)
  • 2 small hot peppers (such as jalapeños) halved lengthwise (note 3)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

For The Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups raw basmati rice (11 ounces)

For The Chicken Curry:

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

For Assembling The Biryani:

  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (remaining from above)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


Equipment: Large heavy skillet or shallow Dutch oven, with a lid.

  1. In a large bowl, mix the 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 for up to 24 hours.
  2. Put rice into a large bowl and cover with cold water by a few inches. Swish rice with your hands to release its starch, pour off the cloudy water and repeat 2 or 3 times until water is clear.
  3. Cook rice partially, for ¼ less time than the package recommends, then drain and set aside.
  4. Whisk the tomato paste with the chopped tomatoes to combine and set aside.
  5. Heat oil or ghee in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add cardamom pods and cumin seeds and fry, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 15 - 20 seconds until fragrant. Add onions and sauté for 8 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, to soften. Add coriander and remaining 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add chicken and marinade to the pan and spread chicken into a single layer. Turn heat to medium-high and cook chicken undisturbed for 3 minutes. Then flip and cook on the other side for 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, bring to a simmer, cover pan and cook at a gentle summer for 5 minutes. Then remove from heat.
  6. Heat milk in the microwave and add saffron threads to hot milk by rubbing them between your fingers to break them up as they fall into the milk. Leave to soak for 3-5 minutes.
  7. To assemble biryani, spread half the rice evenly over the chicken curry. Sprinkle on evenly: 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 remaining saffron milk. Cover pan tightly and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes, until the rice is tender. Leave biryani to rest with the lid on for 5 -10 minutes.
  8. Serve with Cucumber Raita on the side. Mango chutney is also a delicious accompaniment.


  1. If you are looking for a good mild chili powder for biryani, Kashmiri chili powder or Deggi Mirch are good choices. Aleppo pepper, though not traditional in Indian cuisine, is also a good choice.
  2. 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.
  3. The spicy peppers will influence the heat of this dish. For a milder biryani, remove the seeds and pith of the chilies. If you like a lot of heat, leave them in.
  • Prep Time: 30 mins
  • marinating: 30 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: simmer
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: Easy biryani recipe with chicken