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Pakistani Chickpea Biryani

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I think you are going to love the spicy chickpea biryani!

If you want to cook a delicious and satisfying vegetarian meal, you can’t really go wrong with this Pakistani chickpea biryani.

Today I decided to make it for about the third time this year but I changed my recipe ever so slightly. No, I’m not going biryani crazy but I have been adjusting the recipe to feature in a new cookbook I’m writing.


Pakistani chickpea curry

Really good! Give this vegetarian Pakistani chickpea biryani a try!

Not just for vegetarians!

I’m trying to add more vegetarian dishes to my blog as I get asked for them a lot.

Even if you aren’t vegetarian though, you should still give this a try. It’s hugely popular in Pakistan and also norther India at street food stalls.

Believe me, you won’t miss the meat with all those delicious chickpeas and spices.

How to get this chickpea biryani recipe right…

Many people fear cooking rice because it doesn’t cook the way they want it to.

With this chickpea biryani recipe you really can’t go wrong. The rice is first brought to a boil in water or stock for 7 minutes. Yes, that 7 minutes time is exact and important. 

Try the rice after 7 minutes and you will see that it is almost cooked to perfection but still a little hard. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and leave it for another 7 minutes. It is essential that no steam escapes during this steaming so cover the pan tightly first with foil if you don’t have a tight fitting lid. 

If you find that the rice is still not cooked to your liking, you can always add a drop more water, bring it to a boil and let it steam longer. Watch it though. You don’t want to overcook it and the combined 14 minute cook always works for me.

About basmati rice

It is also important to wash the rice in at least three changes of water to wash off all the excess starch. Then allow it to soak for at least an hour before cooking or longer.

When it comes to Basmati rice, you get what you pay for. Cheaper rice may fail to impress. I use Veetee brand, (<– Affiliate link) especially when cooking a biryani.

Step by step photos…

Ingredients for chickpea biryani

When cooking with so many ingredients, it’s a good idea to get all your ingredients together before starting.

Infusing spices in oil

Infuse the whole spices in the oil for about 30 seconds.

Adding garlic, ginger, chillies and tomatoes to pan

Stir in the chopped garlic, ginger and chopped chillies, followed by the dice tomatoes.

Adding ground spices to pan

Now add the whole bullet chillies (if using) and the ground spices. Stir well to combine.

Adding onions to pan

In go all of the fried onions except for about 3 tbsp to garnish. I fry my own until dark brown but not burnt. You could purchase fried onions if more convenient.

Adding yoghurt to the pan

Now add the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time. This is your base masala.

Adding hot sauce.

Stir in the hot sauce if using.

Adding chickpeas

Pour in the chickpeas and a little water or brine from the chickpeas. About 70ml (1/4 cup) should do. Stir so that the chickpeas are coated with the sauce.

Adding rice to pan

Add the soaked rice and stir it into the chickpeas and then add the water or stock.

Boiling rice

Turn the heat up to bring the water/stock to a boil and then simmer for 7 minutes. Add the lemons.

Simmering stock/water

As the water/stock simmers, the rice will plump up and soften. Most of the water will cook away.

Covering rice to steam

After 7 minutes, your rice should look like this with a little water or stock still at the bottom. Turn off the heat and cover the pan for another 7 minutes.

chickpea biryani

Time to dig it! I served mine with a raita to cool down the spicy heat some.

Recipe for the simple raita I made…

I really just through this together but it was perfect with the chickpea biryani.

It was whisked yoghurt, one tablespoon garlic and ginger paste, 1 tbsp hot sauce and salt to taste. Then I added just a bit of lime juice, also to taste. Easy!

If you like this chickpea biryani recipe, you might like to try some of the Indian Vegetarian favourites.

Dum Aloo
Punjabi Saag Curry
Punjabi Rajma
Butternut Squash Curry
Sri Lankan Green Beans Curry
Aloo Gobi
Saag Paneer
Onion Pakora Curry
Chana Saag Curry
Potato Curry
Saag Paneer
Mushroom Curry
Masala Corn
Gobi Manchurian
Bombay Potatoes
Masala Dosa
Saag Aloo
Tandoori Hummus
Tarka Dal
Masoor Dal
Dal Makhani
Chana Dal
Homemade Poppadoms From Scratch
Green Bean Thoran
Cabbage Thoran

Have you tried this chickpea biryani recipe?

If yes, please give it a star rating in the recipe card below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.

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Yield: 6

Pakistani Chickpea Pilau

Pakistani chickpea curry
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes


  • 250ml (1 cup) rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 black cardamom pods, bruised or 4 more greed cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (more or less to taste)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 2 – 3 green chillies, finely chopped (more or less to taste)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) ginger, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 x 400g tinned (canned) chickpeas
  • 3 tbsp natural plain yoghurt
  • 4 small Pakistani lemons or two larger lemons, cut in half
  • 400g (2 cups) long grain Basmati rice
  • 750ml (3 cups) water, chicken or vegetable stock


  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and when visibly hot, add the sliced onions. Fry for about 10 minutes or until they are golden brown. I fry the onions until they are a deep brown but be careful if doing this as there is only a couple seconds between deliciously browned and burnt!
  2. Transfer to a paper towel to soak up any excess oil. Then pour all but two tablespoons of the oil into a container for future use. You don’t want to throw that away as it’s flavoured oil and can be used to provide another layer of flavour in any curry that calls for onions.
  3. Over medium-high heat add the whole spices to the remaining oil in the pan and infuse their flavours into the oil for about 40 seconds. Now add the chilli powder, hot sauce, tomatoes, green chillies, garlic and ginger and fry for about two minutes, stirring well to make a thick sauce.
  4. Stir in the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time. Stir in all but a couple of tablespoons of the fried onions followed by the chickpeas and continue stirring to coat the chickpeas.
  5. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the mixture and then throw them in too. Add the soaked rice and again stir to combine before adding the water or stock.
  6. Bring this all to a rolling boil and then cook for 7 minutes. The rice will be almost cooked after that time and the liquid will be almost dissolved too.
  7. Take off the heat and cover with a lid. It is essential that no steam escapes so cover the pan tightly with foil before adding the lid if you don't have a tight fitting lid.
  8. Carefully stir the biryani with a fork. Don’t stir too hard or the delicate rice grains will split.
  9. Taste it and season with more salt if desired. Sprinkle with the chopped coriander leaves and serve immediately with a good raita and some more lemon wedges.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 140Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 14mgSodium: 540mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 7g

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Tuesday 26th of March 2024

I love this recipe I made it a couple of times Easy and tasty I have your books Love them all

Dan Toombs

Saturday 30th of March 2024

Thanks very much for buying my books and I’m really glad you enjoy this chickpea recipe. Dan

Richard W

Sunday 20th of February 2022

Hi this recipe looks great, but is there a typo in this caption below one of the photos ?: 'Turn the heat up to bring the water/stock to a boil and then simmer for 70 minutes. Add the lemons.'....... Should it say 'simmer for 7 minutes' ?

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

Thanks for noticing. Yes should be 7 minutes so I have amended. Dan


Saturday 19th of February 2022

Great Dan, Tried it today and it is extremely nice, highly recommended!!

2 typoos: - kurkuma is missing where it is added (guess at step 3 with the chilli powder) - at picture "turn the heat up...) it says 70 minutes, guess that is 7 min

thanks for sharing ansd all the best from the Netherlands


Dan Toombs

Tuesday 22nd of February 2022

Hi Jos Great to hear from you! I am glad you enjoyed it, I have made the ammedments. Dan

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