Chicken Biryani

When I create a meal that is undeniably delicious, I tell you. It should go without saying that anything I promote as “tasty,” “amazing,” or “a huge success!” is actually that. There are, of course, recipes that never make it to the blog. They hang out in the limbo known as “Did Not Post” in my TR files, and they are generally never seen or heard from again.

I’ve had a few too many of those recently.

First there was the “Curried Carrot Soup” which, although not completely awful, tasted far too much like curry powder than anything else and was deemed inedible by both John and I. It met its sad fate with our toilet one cold afternoon a few weeks ago. RIP, carrot soup.

Then there was the “BLT Soup” which left me angry and bitter. The directions called for a certain preparation of ingredients. I went against my better judgment and prepared them as the recipe suggested. I was left with soggy bacon (gross), a mouthful of overcooked lettuce (who puts that in soup, anyway?), and a week’s worth of lunch that I couldn’t bare to throw out (twice in one week is just wrong!). This was edible, though not enjoyable. I suffered through it and took it to work every day this past week.

Am I just not a soup maker?! (This can’t be true. I make a mean bowl of matzah ball soup.)

I was destined for a good meal. I had paid my dues to the food blogging gods (alpha = .05?) and was rightfully owed something delicious. Wasn’t I?

Then I made this: chicken biryani.

My husband would complain that this is not, in fact, the real deal. Okay, fine. We live right next door to some of the greatest Indian Food in NY (well, probably, the country). Perhaps it is not exactly the texture of biryani (ours had more liquid). And sure, the recipe didn’t call for raita (the cool yogurt-cucumber sauce that typically accompanies this dish), but that didn’t stop us from making it.

Look, if you like Indian food — and this excludes one picky little sister of mine — you’re going to be amazed that this came from your kitchen. Amazed that you were able to meld these flavors together into something complex and wonderful. But trust me. This is good.

Cut chicken into small one-inch pieces. In a medium bowl combine yogurt and powdered spices.


Add chicken, mix well, then set aside.

In a food processor, purée onion, ginger, garlic, and chili pepper together. Set aside. I used a Thai green chili (hot!), pictured below.

If you have a rice cooker, combine oil or ghee (clarified butter) in cooking bowl on “cook.” If not, just use a large pot. When hot, add onion paste and cook, uncovered, until some liquid has evaporated and paste begins to brown, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Because of the Thai green chili, our mixture turned light green!

Add rice and whole spices and stir well.

These are cardamom pods (left) and whole cloves (right:)

Smooth top and arrange marinated chicken pieces over surface.

Gently pour in broth and salt. Cover and let cook until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes in a rice cooker, or about 40-45 minutes in a pot. The amount of time this takes will depend on the type of rice you use, the temperature at which you’re cooking the rice and chicken, as well as which method you use to cook everything. Bottom line? Be patient.

When done, add saffron cream and mix (I didn’t have saffron so I left it out), making sure to scrape and scoop the bottom layer of rice. Sprinkle chopped cilantro and mint on top and re-cover. Let steam 5 minutes more.

We didn’t add any additional garnishes, but suggestions and directions are included below.

Are you drooling yet?

We served ours with this easy homemade raita. Highly recommended.

I realize the ingredient list for this biryani might be a little intimidating, but it all comes together easily. And trust me when I say you will impress not only your guests, but yourself as well.

Perhaps this will give me the courage to attempt cooking other ethnic cuisines. We’re equal opportunity eaters, after all.


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