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Authentic Chicken Biryani

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This is my favourite way to prepare chicken biryani

I have made my share of biryanis over the years. There are so many different recipe but I think this chicken biryani is the best of them all.

There is a lot more sauce which all gets soaked up into the rice. This is chicken biryani perfection!

If there is one chicken biryani you’ve got to try, make it this one. 

It’s so good served with coriander and mint chutney

chicken biryani

Really easy and a great dish to serve a crowd!

How is this chicken biryani different?

It’s all in the amount of liquid. Many authentic chicken biryani recipe and lamb biryani recipes for that matter can be a bit dry. 

In this recipe I upped the amount of sauce. 

Once cooked and ready to serve, the biryani is moist and delicious. Not at all dry!

What is garlic, ginger and chilli paste?

Exactly what it sounds like. 

To make garlic and ginger paste, you take equal amounts of garlic and ginger and blend with just enough water to make a paste.

For this recipe, I added chillies to the blend. I used 4 green bird’s eye chillies but you could use more or less to taste. 

And the fried onions?

Golden fried onions feature in many chicken biryani recipes.

You could just purchase crispy fried onions and they will work.

I prefer to fry my own as it’s cheaper and easy to do. For this chicken biryani recipe, I thinly sliced through red onions and then fried them in about 5cm (2 inches) of oil until golded brown.

Then I just transferred them to a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. 

Substituting other meats…

This biryani recipe works perfectly well with lamb too. You could cook the lamb in cubes but I prefer to cook it on the bone.

I purchase lamb leg that has been cut and left on the bone for more flavour.

This can be a bit messier to eat but the flavour is worth the effort. 

The importance of adjusting the cooking heat…

When I first started cooking biryanis in this way, I burnt a few.

It is important to get the sauce simmering below the rice but it is equally important to ensure it doesn’t boil so much that it dries up and burns the chicken. 

For this reason, I suggest cooking on high heat for 5 minutes and then lowering the temperature to very low to continue cooking. 

About that dough rim…

This is the authentic way to seal a biryani pan while cooking. 

Doing this ensure no steam, or very little steam is able to escape while cooking.

Just mix flour and water together to make a soft dough. There is no recipe for this. It isn’t eaten. 

If you would like to cheat a bit, tightly wrap the top of the pan with foil and place the lid on top. 

Photos of the chicken biryani cooking process…

infusing whole spices in oil and cooking garlic/ginger paste

Add the oil to the pan and then stir in the whole spices to infuse for about 30 seconds. Stir in the garlic, ginger and chilli paste and fry for a further 30 seconds.

Adding chopped tomatoes to pan

Stir in the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer.

Adding whole spices to the pan

Stir in the whole spices and about 750ml (3 cups) water or unsalted chicken stock.

Adding fried onions to the pan

Add about half of the fried onions.

Adding potatoes to the pan

Stir in the potatoes and simmer for about 5 – 10 minutes or until they are about 50% cooked through.

Adding yoghurt to the sauce

Stir in the yoghurt and bring to a simmer.

Adding chicken to the pan

Now stir in the chicken and cook until about 80% cooked through. This should take about 5 – 8 minutes.

Simmering chicken biryani sauce

Let it simmer while you prepare the soaked rice.

Bring water to a boil. Add the salt and whole spices to the water and add the rice to cook for five minutes.

Making chicken biryani

Using a strainer or large slotted, transfer half of the par-cooked rice to cover the sauce. Add half the remaining onions, saffron milk, ghee and mint leaves.

Top layer of biryani rice.

Cover this layer with the remaining rice and ingredients.

Covering pan to cook.

Cover the pan. It needs to be sealed tightly. Use a dough or foil to seal it.

Finished chicken biryani

Simmer on high for 5 minutes and then low for 25 minutes.

Stirring chicken biryani

Stir the rice carefully from the bottom. Basmati rice will split and turn to mush if you stir too hard.

If you like the look of this authentic chicken biryani, you might like to try some of these curry house favourites.

Chicken Korma
Chicken Madras
Chicken Dhansak
Lamb Rogan Josh
Lamb Vindaloo
Chicken Chilli Garlic
Chicken Patia
Lamb Bhuna

Chicken biryani

Delicious served with coriander chutney!

chicken biryani

Dig in!

Yield: 6 - 8

Authentic Chicken Biryani

Chicken biryani

The garlic, ginger and chilli paste used in this recipe is made to taste. Normally equal amounts of garlic and ginger are blended with a little water into a paste. Then add chillies to taste and blend some more.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


  • 3 Fried onions
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 400g tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 3 generous tbsp garlic, ginger and chilli paste (see above)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp Kashmiri chilli power
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 750ml (3 cups) water
  • 150g natural plain yoghurt
  • 500g (1 ¼ lb) potato, skinned and cut into large bite sized pieces
  • 1 whole chicken, skinned and cut into about ten pieces
  • 1 small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
  • A pinch of saffron
  • 4 tbsp hot milk
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) melted ghee
  • 600g (3 cups)
  • 4 litres water
  • 4 tbsp salt
  • 2 Indian bay leaves
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise


  1. Wash the rice in several changes of water in a bowl. When you first do this, the water will turn milky white. Continue washing until the water runs almost clear. Continue soaking the rice for an hour.
  2. Heat a six litre pan over medium high heat and add the oil. When visibly hot, stir in the whole spices and infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds. Add the chopped tomatoes, garlic and ginger paste, chilli paste and half the fried onions and bring to a simmer.
  3. Now add the ground spices and water and simmer for about 3 minutes. Stir in the yoghurt into the sauce and add the potato pieces and continue simmering until the potatoes are about 50% cooked through. This should take about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken and simmer for about 8 minutes or until it is about 80% cooked through. Reduce the heat to medium, season with salt to taste and continue simmering while you prepare your rice.
  5. Melt the ghee and add a pinch of saffron to 4 tbsp hot milk to infuse for a few minutes.
  6. Place a pan with the water, salt, bay leaves and aromatic spices and bring to a boil over high heat. When boiling add the soaked rice, reduce the heat a little and simmer for 5 minutes to par-cook. Using a sieve or large slotted spoon, transfer half the rice to the biryani pan and cover the sauce with it. Sprinkle with half the coriander (cilantro), mint leaves, half the remaining fried onions, half the melted ghee and half of the saffron milk mixture. Strain the remaining rice and transfer toto the biryani pan. Sprinkle this layer with the remaining ingredients.
  7. The biryani needs to steam in an airtight pan. You could make up some dough to do this or just wrap the pan with foil and place the lid on top.
  8. Cook the covered biryani for 5 minutes over high heat and then reduce the heat to low to continue simmering for 25 minutes.
  9. I suggested removing the lid at the table as the aroma that hits you is amazing. Carefully stir the biryani from the bottom and serve. I like to serve this biryani with coriander chutney.

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I hope you enjoy this chicken biryani recipe. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.


Sunday 28th of April 2024

Excellent recipe, very tasty. I've never deep-fried onions the way you said before, the result was excellent. I covered it with a lid fitting inside the saucepan right on top of the rice, then put the saucepan lid and baked it in the oven at 150 fan for about an hour. Perhaps a little too much water but it worked really well. Thank you. I made a curry of kala chana with coarsely chopped courgettes, which went very well. Thank you!

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 30th of April 2024

Really glad you enjoyed it and I agree, the fried onions really make it. Thanks Dan

Del Harvey

Friday 12th of January 2024

Hi Dan, I only have a 4 litre pot and really don't want to buy more cookware, do i just halve the quantity? I don't want to lose flavour etc. What do you advise? Keep up the good work.

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 17th of January 2024

Yes, just halve the quantities but be careful with any hotter spices, add those to taste. Thanks Dan


Sunday 23rd of April 2023

Hi Dan,

In the top photo there's a lovely looking tomato, cucumber, and red onion side dish. Would you mind sharing what you use for the dressing on that please?

Many thanks,


Dan Toombs

Tuesday 25th of April 2023

it’s just lime juice, salt and pepper as that’s how they served it to us in Kerala. Thanks Dan


Thursday 19th of January 2023

Made this for my husband who loves biryani's. The flavour is on par with his favourite restaurant. Looking forward to trying some of your other recipes

Dan Toombs

Monday 23rd of January 2023

Fantastic! Thanks very much for letting me know. Dan


Saturday 12th of February 2022

Hello Dan. Have you tried this in the oven? My biryani dish is pottery and I don't think it would stand up to being on a hob. I was thinking transfer partially cooked chicken to the heated pot, cover with rice etc and seal. Then pop in oven at around 160'C for 25 minutes. Do you reckon this would work? Thank you David

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 15th of February 2022

I have never tried it in the oven but I would definitely give it a try. Let me know how it works! Thanks Dan

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