Biryani is one of the most popular Indian dishes, renowned for its fragrance and bursting with flavour. But it is also one of the most look-forward-to dishes at Malay weddings in Singapore, enjoyed by all races alike! So, if you have been wanting to try your hand cooking at this beloved dish, here’s an easy, homemade Chicken Biryani recipe that is perfect for a hearty dinner anytime!
There are many different versions of cooking biryani out there. This recipe is closer to the Hyderabadi biryani style and contributed to us by home cook Nellie Bok from Penang. The Hyderabadi style is more straightforward than the other kinds of biryani recipes, which makes it easier to follow. It calls for fried onions and a layering technique to combine all the ingredients. If you are interested for more biryani recipes, check out our Mee Siam Biryani recipe too!
Let’s start cooking the Chicken Biryani!
Step 1: Marinate the Chicken
In a bowl, add all the chicken and the chicken marinade ingredients. Most chicken biryani recipes add cream or yoghurt in the marinade, but this recipe only uses dry ingredients.
Mix well, cover, and leave it to marinate in the fridge for two hours.
Step 2: Cook the Basmati rice
Cooking Basmati rice is pretty simple! First, wash and soak the rice for at least an hour. This makes it cook faster and gets rid of some of the starch.
Next, boil the water in a large pot and add the salt and pandan leaves. These ingredients help flavour the Basmati rice and make it more fragrant!
Add the drained Basmati rice to the water once it has come to a boil and let it cook for five minutes or until about 70% cooked. As we are going to cook the rice again later, make sure to not let it get fully cooked in this round.
Remove the pandan leaves and drain the rice. Here comes the secret tip that makes for a super fluffy biryani: spread the Basmati rice out on a large tray and use a fork to fluff it up! This helps the rice to dry faster and makes for the signature lightness of a great biryani.
Did you know: Basmati rice has a low Glycemic Index (GI) value of 50-58? This means it’s a very healthy carbohydrate option! To learn more about GI and low GI foods, you can check out our article with Dietitian Derrick here.
Step 3: Cook the onion and chicken
Time to cook!
We’ll start by frying the onions until they are brown and crispy. Then, set them aside.
In the same pot, add the marinated chicken and fry on both sides for five minutes, then set aside. This helps to get a good sear and colour on the chicken. Don’t worry if they aren’t cooked through yet as we will be cooking them again later!
Now, add your spice: cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, red chillis, and pandan leaves. Fry to release the fragrance.
Once your kitchen is smelling wonderful, it’s time to add the rest of the ingredients for the gravy. Add the biryani masala, turmeric powder, chili powder, 2 tablespoons of the fried onions, ½ of the fresh mint, ½ of the coriander, yoghurt, milk, and the cooked chicken. Stir well to mix, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 5-8 minutes.
Add in the rest of the seasonings, mix and do a taste test. Adjust the taste here to your preference by adding more seasonings or milk/water to dilute the gravy if needed.
Step 4: Cook the biryani
To bring the biryani together, we are going to layer the ingredients like making a lasagne. You’ll need the biggest and deepest pot you have in your kitchen for this.
Start by placing half of the chicken at the bottom, then add half of the rice, mint, coriander, raisins, cashew nuts, fried onions, ghee, and turmeric water. Repeat this with the rest of the ingredients then mix up them up.
#Tip: the colour of your biryani will depend on how much you mix the ingredients. The more you mix, the more the rice gets coloured by the turmeric water. So, if you want an orange biryani, mix the pot well. If you want an orange and white biryani, just mix it up a little so that some of the rice will remain white.
Now, cover the pot and let it cook for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat to let it sit for another 10 minutes. This helps the flavours to come together and cool down to the perfect temperature. Serve with the chicken gravy on the side and your easy homemade chicken biryani is done!
To garnish, keep aside some of the fried onions, coriander, and mint with a slice of lime to use as garnish. To make your biryani fancy, you can also do as we did and use some saffron threads!
Get the recipe here!
- 2 onions quartered and sliced
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5-6 cloves
- 1/2 red chilli deseed and halved
- 2 star anise
- 6 cardamom
- 1 cup fresh curry leaves
- 2 pandan leaves knotted
- 2 tsp biryani masala
- 2 tbsp tumeric powder
- 1 tbsp chilli powder
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves chopped
- 1 cup coriander leaves chopped
- 150 g yogurt
- 150 ml milk
- 4 tsp ghee
- Tumeric water 1tbsp tumeric powder to 3 tbsp water
- 1 cup roasted cashew nuts
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 8 pieces chicken
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp chicken powder
- 1/2 tbsp tumeric powder
- 1/2 tbsp chilli powder
- 1 1/2 cup basmati rice washed and soaked 1 hr
- 1 litre water
- 2 pandan leaves knotted
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp chicken powder
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 fresh lime extract the juice
- Add the chicken and chicken marinate ingredients together in a bowl and mix well.
- Cover and leave it to marinate for at least 2 hrs
- Bring the water to a boil and add the pandan leaves and salt. Add the rice and cook for 4-5 mins until rice is 70% cooked.
- Discard the pandan leaves and drain the rice. Spread the rice out on a wide plate or tray and use a fork to fluff the rice.
- In a pot, add the cooking oil and fry the sliced onions until golden brown. Drain fried onions in a sieve and set aside.
- In the same pot, fry chicken pieces on both side for 4-5 mins or until 3/4 cooked and set aside.
- Using the same oil, add in the cloves, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, red chilli, pandan leaves and curry leaves. Sauté until fragrant then add in biryani masala, tumeric powder and chilli powder, 2 tbsp of fried onions. Stir and mix well.
- Add in the chicken, 1/2 of the mint and coriander leaves, all the yogurt and milk. Toss well and let it simmer for 5-8mins over medium heat.
- Add in the seasoning, then taste and adjust accordingly.
- Set aside the cooked chicken and strain the gravy into a separate bowl.
- In another pot, spread out half of the chicken, then layer half of the rice, mints, coriander leaves, raisins, cashew nuts, fried onions, ghee, and tumeric water. Repeat again with the rest of the ingredients.
- Cover well the pot and over low heat, simmer the rice for 20 mins. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 mins then fluff the rice and serve.
- Garnish with fried onions, fresh mints or coriander leaves and a slice of lime and serve with chicken gravy on the side.