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Chicken Biryani
Rich and Aromatic

Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani is an incredibly rich dish, filled with fluffy rice, saffron, spices, and marinated chicken thighs. Easy recipe for a tasty dinner.

Chicken Biryani
Earlier this year we posted a survey on Instagram, asking you, our fellow foodie friends what you would like to see more of on Instagram and here on the blog as well. Apart from more lunch and dinner ideas, there was also this word that kept repeating “make biryani” or “biryani”. That made us so excited because…we had no freaking idea what biryani is, but we love a good challenge. After extended research “read google, because there’s no mention of biryani in our Escoffier bible” we now kind of, sort of know what biryani is. Biryani is an incredibly rich, aromatic dish originating from the Indian subcontinent. There are many varieties all over Asia and the Middle East, but the most common ingredients are rice, meat (beef, chicken, fish), spices and vegetables. One thing that we absolutely loved in our biryani was the saffron, which in our opinion is a must as well. After more than 2 months of testing, we are super happy to share our recipe for an incredibly rich and aromatic Chicken Biryani. Let's jump into the world of Asian - Middle East flavors and let's get cooking.


How to Make Chicken Biryani

Don't get scared by the long list of spices you need for this recipe. You probably have everything at home already or you can find it in your local store. Chicken Biryani is actually pretty easy to make and the flavorful dish is just proper comfort food. Honestly, being from Europe we aren't that familiar with all those magnificent spices and combination that are present in Asian cooking, so we were pretty amazed by the taste since it's not something that's on our plates every day. With that being said, we love our Chicken Biryani version because it is:

  • incredibly rich in flavor
  • slightly sweet
  • highly aromatic
  • spicy (in a good way)
  • cooked on a stovetop
  • easy to prepare at home

Chicken Biryani preparation

Chicken and Basmati Rice (Chicken Biryani)

Chicken Biryani


Chicken - We used chicken thighs (with skin and bone) in this recipe. Of course, you can also use boneless and skinless thighs. You could also use chicken wings, drumsticks or a whole chicken leg. We don't recommend using chicken breast for this recipe, because they will overcook and become too dry.

Rice - Basmati rice is the way to go. More about that below.

Spices - You can see a whole wide specter of different spices in this recipe, which will give this biryani an amazing flavorful taste. If you don't have / or can't find any of the spices, don't stress, the dish will still be good.

Saffron - The most expensive ingredient of them all. Also, in our opinion a very very important. It makes all the difference, both in vibrant color and the final touch taste-wise. I know it's expensive but incredibly worth it in this recipe. Will the dish be good without saffron too? Sure. But if you have a chance, try it with saffron too.

Raisins and Figs - Give sweetness and fruitiness to the dish. Use sultanas or other raisins and dried figs. It's not traditional for India, but in the Middle East, you might see raisins in the recipe as well.

Delicious Chicken Biryani


Easy Chicken Biryani


Which Rice to use

Always use Basmati rice. It's light and fluffy, also, the grains will remain separate (rather than creamy and sticky), which is exactly what we are looking for in this biryani.

What to serve it with

Because this chicken dish is incredibly rich and aromatic, we like to add a dollop of plain (or greek) yogurt and fresh coriander/cilantro for a bit of freshness and lightness right before serving. An amazing side would also be this simple skillet flatbread - it is easy to make and super quick too.

Storing and freezing

Store any leftover Chicken biryani in a fridge in an airtight container for up to three days. Reheat on a stove until hot all the way through. You can also freeze the prepared chicken thighs (without the rice on top). Put the cool cooked chicken thighs with the sauce in freezer bags and freeze for up to a month. When reheating, bring to a boil and continue with the recipe.

Indian Chicken Biryani


Stovetop Chicken Biryani


Other flavorful chicken dishes you might love


Lets get cooking!

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  • Marinate the chicken

    In a large bowl combine chicken thighs, yogurt, olive oil, salt, pepper, ground ginger, and turmeric. Smash garlic and fresh ginger in a mortar and add it to the chicken. Stir to combine and set aside for at least 15 - 20 minutes or even better, overnight.

    It's definitely better to leave the chicken to marinate overnight. That results in a tender and rich meat.
  • Saffron water and Rice

    In a small bowl stir to combine saffron and lukewarm water. Set aside until needed. Wash the basmati rice under running water. Drain and place in a large bowl. Cover the rice with cold water.

  • Cook the chicken

    Dice the onion. Place a pot over medium-high heat. Add the butter, olive oil and spices (1 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin, 3 cloves, 1/4 cinnamon stick). Cook until the spices are nice and aromatic. Add the diced onion, raisins and figs. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onion is tender and soft. Transfer the chicken thighs from the marinade to the pot. Keep the marinade mixture. Cook the chicken thighs for about 5 minutes on all sides, turning the chicken occasionally. Add the marinade, chopped tomatoes and 300 ml (10.5 oz) water. Stir to combine, cover with a lid and cook for about 30 - 35 minutes (low simmer), stirring occasionally.

    If you notice that there isn't much liquid left in the pot, add a ladle of water. After about 30 minutes of cooking the sauce needs to be thick, but still liquidy.
  • Cook the rice

    Place a pot with 1 liter (4 cups) of water over medium-low heat. 1 tsp of salt, butter, and spices (1 cardamom, 1/4 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 1/4 star anise, 1/2 tsp coriander seeds). Bring to boil, then add rice and cook for 7 - 8 minutes or until rice is almost cooked, still a bit firm in the middle. Drain and set aside.

    Don't wash the cooked rice under running water.
  • Cook the biryani

    Spread rice on top of the chicken thighs, so that it covers the chicken completely. Drizzle saffron water over the rice and cover with a lid. Cook for another 8 - 10 minutes on low heat, for the rice to cook completely.

    The heat should really be set on low, or the dish might get burnt.
  • Serve

    Divide the Chicken Biryani between six plates and serve with a generous dollop of plain yogurt, freshly chopped cilantro/coriander and crispy onions (optional). Enjoy


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