Chicken biryani is an Indian  rice dish comprising of fresh spices, chicken and vegetables. Usually served as a main dish, the biryani is uniquely flavoured with Indian seasoning.


  • 3 cups rice
  • ¼ cup brown lentils
  • 1 full chicken, cut into pieces and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons ginger and garlic paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 green chilli, cut lengthwise
  • 1 black elachi
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 aniseed
  • 1 sprig curry leaf
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A pinch of fennel (soomph) seeds
  • A pinch of cumin (jeera) seeds
  • 6-7  mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 onions (1 sliced and the other grated)
  • ½ tomato, grated
  • 2 sprigs spring onions
  • 2 ½ tablespoons hot curry powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of mixed cumin (jeera) and coriander (dhania) powders
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli powder
  • 3mls of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 potatoes
  • A few drops of yellow food colour
  • Sour milk
  • 50g margarine


  1. Fry 1 sliced onion in a pan of margarine.
  2. Marinate the chicken by combining together ½ a sprig each of curry leave, spring onion, sour milk, thyme, red chilli, 3 leaves of mint, curry powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander and cumin powder, ginger and garlic paste and a teaspoon of fried onions.
  3. Refrigerate the marinated chicken until required.
  4. Cook the rice in salted water until done.
  5. Drain out the rice by removing the excess water.
  6. Place ¾ of the rice in a bowl and add a few drops of yellow food colour to turn the rice a pale yellow.
  7. Boil the lentils in water with added salt to taste.
  8. In a large bowl add in peeled potatoes that have already been cut into quarters.
  9. Stir in a few drops of yellow food colouring and salt to taste.
  10. Mix well to ensure an even distribution of colour.
  11. In a pan deep fry the potatoes on a reduced heat until it has a crisp outer layer.
  12. Heat the oil in a pot.
  13. Add ½ of the amount of grated onion, ghee, cumin and coriander seeds, ½ a sprig each of thyme, spring onion and curry leaf.
  14. Also stir in the remainder of the mint leaves, cinnamon stick, elachi and bay leaf.
  15. Allow the ingredients to simmer in the oil.
  16. When the onion’s appears transparent, and turns a pale golden colour, add in the marinated chicken.
  17. Add salt to taste and mix well.
  18.  The chicken should simmer for 5-8 minutes on a reduced heat until it is fried through.
  19.  Add in the remainder of the grated onion, curry leaves and tomato.
  20.  Allow the curry to cook out well.
  21.  A little water can be added if the curry holds at the base of the pot.
  22.  Once the chicken has cooked through completely, remove the curry from the stove top and garnish with coriander.

Setting of the biryani:

  1. In a large pot place enough yellow coloured rice to cover the base of the pot.
  2. Add in the entire amount of curry.
  3. Layer a generous quantity of chopped coriander and fried onions.
  4. Reserve a tablespoon of fried onions to garnish the last layer.
  5. Add in ½ the amount of lentils.
  6. Add a layer of white rice alternating with yellow rice and lentils.
  7. Reserve a tablespoon of rice and colour it a dark yellowish red colour (using yellow food colour).
  8. On the last layer, add the fried onions, chopped coriander and the yellowish red rice.
  9. Seal the pot with foil and cover with the lid.
  10. Place this pot into a larger pot of water.
  11. Cover and steam on moderate heat for 30-45 minutes.

Serve hot with an accompaniment of ‘raita’(a cucumber and yoghurt based salad). Serves 4-5 adults.