What is Biryani | How to make Chicken Biryani

Updated: Jan 22

Biryani is one of the most popular Indian dish. To put it simple, it's kind of similar to the Spanish dish "Paella". Biryani was not invented in India. There are two theories on how biryani could have reached India. One theory is that the Arab spice traders might have introduced biryani to Indian cuisine. The second theory is the Mughal rulers who invaded India might have brought this dish to the royal kitchens of India. Whatever might be the reason , Biryani is a great addition to the rich Indian cuisine.

There are many types of biryani in India such as the Delhi biryani, Lucknow biryani, Calcutta biryani, Hyderabad biryani, Ambur biryani, Chettinad biryani , Thalaserry biryani and many more. All these biryanis are made with the same basic technique. The taste and flavor might differ based on the use of local spices and the different varieties of rice. These biryanis are named after the city/region where its made. Beef is is not consumed in most of the states in India. There are 2 or 3 types of biryanis made with beef and the rest are made with goat meat, chicken, lamb , shrimp, fish or veggies.

In America most of the Indian restaurants serve the Hyderabadi biryani. Hyderabad is the name of a city in Southern India. This type of biryani has its roots in the royal kitchens of the Mughal emperors. This biryani can be prepared by two methods. One is kachi and the other is pakki method. In kachi type the meat is marinated in yogurt and spices for a long time. The raw meat is layered with semi cooked rice and cooked on low heat. In pakki type the meat is marinated for a shorter time and cooked. The cooked meat is then layered with semi cooked rice and cooked on low flame. Pakki method is less time consuming and relatively easier when compared to the Kachi method. I have tested this following recipe multiple times to give you the exact measurement and cooking time. I hope you find it easy to follow. Please feel free to share your questions and comments about the recipe.

Hyderabadi chicken biryani (serving size 2-4)

Food pairing suggestion – Hyderabadi chicken biryani is served with onion raita and a hard-boiled egg.

Utensils required

Heavy bottomed wide pan with lid

Pasta pot with strainer


Large bowl


2 cups sliced onions

2 cups chopped tomato

2 tablespoons plain yogurt

2 & 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup mint leaves

1/2 cup oil

2 lbs. chicken drumstick (if you prefer you ca use chicken breast)

1/2 teaspoon orange food color (optional)

You can find the below ingredients in Indian store

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

4 cardamom pods

2 bay leaves

2 inch cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves

4 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste

2 Thai green chilies

Prep work

1. Take a medium size onion and cut it into thin slices.

2. Take 4 medium sized tomatoes and chop it into small pieces.

3. If you are planning to make ginger and garlic paste

4. Take 1/2 cup of mint leaves and rinse it 3 times in water.

5. Take 2 Thai green chilies and rinse it water for 3 times. Cut the chili length wise into two halves.

6. Take the 2 lbs. chicken drumstick remove the skin and rinse it water for 3 times. Drain the water and make two incisions in each drumstick so the flavors might get into the thick part of the meat.

7. Soak 2 cups basmati rice in water for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes rinse the rise 3 times and strain the water using a strainer. Keep the rice aside.


1. Place the heavy bottomed pan on the stove. Heat the pan in medium heat for 2 minutes.

2. Add 1/4 cup oil in the pan and heat for 2 minutes.

3. When the oil is hot add 4 cardamom pods, 2 bay leaves, 2 inch cinnamon stick and 2 whole cloves.

4. Fry the whole spices until the bay leaves and cardamom pods turn into light brown in color.

5. Remove the whole spices from the oil and discard them (This step is optional, in India we keep the whole spices in the biryani and serve the rice with whole spices. When we eat the biryani we pick the whole spices from the rice and keep them aside)

6. Add 2 cups of sliced onions and sauté until the onions turn transparent.

7. Add 4 tablespoons of ginger and garlic paste into the pan and fry for 2 minutes in medium heat.

8. After 2 minutes add 2 cups chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons coriander powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 cup of mint leaves and Thai green chilies.

9. Cook the contents in medium heat until the oil separates.

10. Once the oil separates add the chicken drumsticks and 1 cup water. Cover the pan with a lid and cook in medium heat. Stir occasionally to avoid burning. Once the chicken is fully cooked switch off the heat. The chicken biryani sauce is ready.

11. In the meantime take the pasta pot with the strainer and add 6 cups of water in it. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Add 1/2 teaspoon of water and the washed basmati rice. Turn the heat to medium.

12. Boil the rice for 5 minutes and switch off the heat. Lift the strainer off to drain the rice (the steam will be very hot, please be careful) and keep it aside. The rice will be half cooked.

13. Now we are going to layer the rice and the sauce. Take the pasta pot and pour out the starchy water which was used to boil the rice.

14. Place the cooked chicken drumsticks in the bottom of the pot and add half of the chicken biryani sauce. Add half of the rice from the strainer on top of the chicken drumsticks.

15. Add rest of the chicken biryani sauce on the rice. And add the remaining rice on top of the sauce. Pour 1/4 oil on top of the rice.

16. Add 1/2 teaspoon of orange food color on top of the rice (this step is optional)

17. Close the pasta pot with a lid and turn the heat to low.

18. Cook the contents in low heat for 40 minutes.

19. After 40 minutes transfer the biryani in to a large bowl and gently mix the rice and sauce so that the flavors blend in well with the rice.

20. Serve the biryani warm.

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog! Please share your questions and comments about Indian food and culture in the comment section. I would be happy to answer them for you. If you would like to learn to cook Indian food, please click here to sign up for my private virtual cooking class.

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