Make Chicken Biryani Recipe in 2 Ways

Chicken Biryani Recipe in 2 ways! Make the ultimate Biryani in homestyle and restaurant styles. Biryani is a celebratory rice and meat dish cherished in the Indian sub-continent. A traditional biryani consists of fluffy basmati rice layered over tender & succulent pieces of meat, accompanied with the mesmerizing aromas of spices, herbs & caramelized onions. In this post I show you how to make an aromatic, delicious and the best Chicken Biryani, not in one but 2 ways – Homestyle and restaurant style.

Biryani is one of the most popular rice dishes & traditionally it is cooked adapting the process of dum pukht, meaning “steam cooked over low fire”. The traditional process of Chicken Biryani starts by marinating meat in yogurt along with spices and herbs. The raw/uncooked marinated meat is layered at the bottom of a wide pot followed by another layer of par cooked basmati rice, herbs, saffron infused milk, fried onions and ghee or attar (edible essential oil).

The pot is sealed to trap the steam and is dum cooked on a low heat for the most tender and flavorsome dish. This is known as Kachi Biryani & I have shared that traditional Hyderabadi biryani here. Cooking this kind of a biryani requires a bit of expertise and understanding the dum pukht method correctly.

It is believed that Persians introduced Biryani to the Indians and this royal delicacy once upon a time was a luxurious treat made during special occasions. However over the decades, the popularity of Biryani has grown to the extent that we eat it more often, whenever the Biryani cravings kick-in.

Innovative home cooks and chefs have come-up with many new and easier methods to cook biryani, as a result pakki biryani and my one pot biryani shared below came into existence.

About Chicken Biryani

As mentioned earlier I share 2 recipes here and both the recipes use the same ingredients but the quantities vary slightly due to the difference in the cooking methods.

The first method is a one pot biryani and you can cook this in a pressure cooker or in a regular pot. In this recipe, we cook the marinated meat and layer the uncooked rice. Pour hot water and cook to perfection.

The second method is known as pakki dum biryani, where you cook the marinated meat with aromatics and make a gravy first. Meanwhile you par cook the rice and layer that over the chicken gravy.

Cover and cook on dum/steam for a short time to infuse the flavors of spices and herbs. Tada! Your best restaurant style Chicken Biryani is ready!

Both these recipes yield a chicken biryani that isn’t too oily, spicy, hot or pungent as it looks to be in the pictures. However you can reduce the amount of red chili powder if you do not prefer the heat. Biryani is best served with a Raita, Shorba, lassi, and papads.

A biryani is judged by 3 things

  1. Masala/ flavors – so use a good biryani masala (recipe below) or garam masala.
  2. The quality of rice – use aged basmati rice or aged premium quality short grain rice like jeerakasala.
  3. The tenderness of meat – so always marinate chicken in yogurt and spices.

Biryani Masala Powder

You can use a good store bought biryani masala or garam masala. I prefer to use homemade biryani masala which I am sharing below. If you want you may use this or use your favorite store bought masala.

  • 1 to 2 bay leaf
  • 1 star anise
  • 10 to 12 green cardamoms
  • 2 two inch piece cinnamon – 2 grams
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds (shahi jeera, sub with cumin)
  • 2 strands of mace (I use half of a small mace, it may be strong for others)
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg

On a low to medium heat, dry roast bay leaf, star anise, green and black cardamoms, mace and cinnamon stick for 1 to 2 mins, until slightly fragrant. Add cloves, fennel, caraway and black pepper. Roast for another 1 to 2 mins on a low heat, until aromatic. Add nutmeg and turn off. Cool and make a fine powder.

You can make this ahead or make a large batch and transfer to an air tight glass/ steel jar. Store in the refrigerator for 2 months.

How to make Chicken Biryani Recipe Stepwise Part 1

Preparation – Marination

1. This recipe needs half kg chicken (1.1 lbs.). Make few slits on all the chicken pieces and add to a large bowl. Then add

  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt (Indian curd)
  • 1¼ tablespoons ginger garlic paste
  • ½ to 1 tablespoon garam masala (or biriyani masala)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili powder (reduce for kids)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)

2. Mix everything well and marinate the chicken. Cover and set this aside for 1 hour. You can also rest it overnight in the fridge.

3. Meanwhile add 2 cups basmati rice to a large pot and rinse it at least thrice. Drain and soak in fresh water for 30 mins. Drain to a colander after 30 mins. Optional – Soak a pinch of saffron strands in 2 tablespoons hot milk.

Cook Chicken

4. Heat ghee or oil in a heavy bottom pot or pressure cooker. Make sure you use a large one for this. Using whole spices is optional but recommended. Use whatever you have. I use

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon piece
  • 1 star anise
  • ¾ teaspoon shahi jeera (caraway seeds)
  • 1 strand mace (optional, omit if you don’t like)

5. Add thinly sliced onions. On a medium heat, fry them stirring often until uniformly light brown.

6. This is the correct color of the onions. Do not burn them as they leave a bitter taste. (check video)

7. Add marinated chicken & saute until it becomes pale for 5 minutes.

8. Lower the flame completely. Cover and cook until the chicken is soft, tender and completely cooked.

9. Check if the chicken is cooked by pricking with a fork or knife. It has to be just cooked and not overdone. Evaporate any excess moisture left in the pot by cooking further without the lid.

10. Taste test and add more salt if needed. I added ¼ more salt here. Add

  • ¼ cup plain yogurt (Indian curd)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (or biryani masala)
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon red chili powder (optional)
  • 1 slit green chili pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves (pudina)

Make Chicken Biryani

11. Mix everything well. Spread it evenly in a single layer.

12. Layer drained rice all over the chicken. To a separate pot, pour 3 cups water and add ¼ to ½ teaspoon salt. If cooking in a pot (not cooker), start with 3 cups water at this stage.

Stir and taste the water. It must be slightly salty. Bring the water to a rolling boil. Pour 2 cups of this hot water across the sides of the cooker or pot. Pour rest of the water over the rice gently. (check video)

13. Level the rice gently on top. Add 2 tablespoons more mint leaves.Do not mix up everything, the taste of the biryani cooked in the shown method is good. Optionally you can sprinkle 2 tablespoons fried onions & saffron soaked milk.

14. Finally cover the pot or cooker.
If cooking in a pot, cook on medium heat until the rice is cooked completely. If the rice is undercooked & there is no more water left at the bottom of the pot, pour ¼ to ½ cup boiling water at this stage. How much water to add depends on the quality of basmati rice. Cook covered until the biryani rice is perfectly done, grainy, and fully cooked. Rest it covered for 15 mins.
If cooking in a cooker, cook until you hear 1 whistle. Later remove the cooker from the hot burner to stop cooking further.

15. When the pressure releases naturally, open the lid. Gently fluff up with a fork.

Serve chicken biryani in layers – the top layer with rice and the bottom layer with chicken. Enjoy with raita or Shorba.


Towards the end if the rice is under cooked, you can sprinkle little hot water & cook covered further.

Photo Guide

Restaurant Style Chicken Biryani Recipe Stepwise Part 2

Time taken:1 hour 45 minutes


To make fried onions
¼ cup oil (I use organic steam refined coconut oil)
2 cups (200 grams) sliced onions
To Marinate
½ cup yogurt/curd (fresh, not sour)
1 tbsp. Lemon juice
1½ tablespoon Ginger Garlic grated or paste (both in equal quantities)
1 green chili deseeded and slit (leave out for low heat)
1½ tablespoons oil (may use fried onion oil)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
½ to ¾ tablespoon Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
1¼ tablespoon Biryani masala (recipe in the post intro, or use store bought biryani/garam masala)
½ tablespoon coriander powder
¼ tablespoon roasted cumin powder (leave out if using homemade biryani masala)
2 tablespoons mint leaves fine chopped
2 tablespoons coriander leaves fine chopped (optional)
1.1 lbs. chicken (½ kg, skinless bone-in or boneless, large pieces such as thighs, drumsticks, legs or breast)
To cook rice
1½ cups premium aged basmati rice
½ tablespoon oil
¾ to 1 tablespoon salt
4 cardamoms
4 cloves
1 bay leaf
2 inch cinnamon
1 star anise
¼ tsp shahi jeera
½ mace
To layer
1 pinch (10 to 12) saffron strands or natural orange food color as needed
2 tablespoons hot milk + 2 tablespoons hot water
1 to 2 pinches biryani masala or garam masala
1 to 2 tbsps mint and coriander leaves
1½ tbsps melted ghee or a few drops of organic attar stirred with ghee

Instructions Stepwise

This 1x recipe makes 3 servings. I made 2x recipe so you will see more quantities in the pictures.

Make golden onions in 22 mins

1. Wash and peel the onion. Slice them medium thin and even so they fry evenly. Cut & discard the basal plate of the onion so the slices separate. Measure the slices to make them 2 cups.

2. Pour ¼ cup oil to a wide pan/Dutch oven and heat it on a medium flame. Add the onions and sauté constantly on a medium heat, until they turn evenly golden to light brown, but not deep brown or burnt. It takes me about 13 to 14 minutes for this entire task. 7 mins on a medium heat, 4 mins on a low heat and 2 to 3 mins with the stove turned off. However this can vary for you.

3. Remove them to a plate & cool completely. They will turn darker after cooling so do not over fry them as they turn bitter in a few seconds.

4. This step is optional. A lot of people prefer to use this fried onion oil in the marinade as it is flavored. But I discard the oil in the pot/ Dutch oven. I also prefer to squeeze out the excess oil from the fried onions using fingers. Pat them well with kitchen tissues to remove most of the oil. Once done they look like seen in the pictures below. This makes ½ cup (8 tbsps) golden onions.

Marinate Chicken (takes 18 mins)

I use the same pot/ Dutch oven to fry onions, marinate and then cook the biryani. But it is important to cool it down before preparing the marinade.

5. Mix together yogurt, lemon juice, ginger garlic, green chili, oil, salt, turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chilli powder, biryani masala (or garam masala), coriander powder, roasted cumin powder, mint leaves and coriander leaves. Mix all the ingredients well and taste test for salt and spice/heat. Adjust of required.

6. Add chicken. I also make gashes over the larger pieces of chicken. Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes to overnight in the refrigerator. Keep it covered while it marinates.

Make the gravy in 20 mins

7. Saute chicken for 4 to 5 minutes on a medium heat.

8. Reserve 2 tablespoons brown onions for later and add the rest here (about 6 tbsps). Pour ¼ cup hot water and mix well.

9. Cover and cook on a medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the size and kind of chicken used, organic and bone-in chicken takes longer). Chicken should be almost cooked through (95% cooked). Turn off the heat.

Cook Rice 15 mins, can multi-task to save time

10. While your chicken gravy cooks, rinse rice well thrice and soak for a minimum of 15 mins (if required, read instructions on your rice pack). Pour 6 cups of water to a large pot and add the following whole spices. You don’t need all of them add whatever you have in hand. Cardamoms, cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon, star anise, shahi jeera and ½ mace.

11. Bring the water to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium (keep it boiling), cover the pot and cook for 5 minutes. If you don’t like whole spices in your biryani, optionally fish out as many spices as you want at this stage using a spider. Discard or save some for garnish.

12. Pour oil and add drained rice & salt. Bring the water to a rolling boil again and cook on high heat for 5 mins, until 90% done. Rice should be firm, almost cooked but have a bite to it and not fully cooked. When you press down the rice grain it should break and not turn mushy. Drain to a colander immediately.

Make Chicken Biryani Layer in 30 mins

13. Soak saffron strands or natural orange food color as needed in 2 tablespoons hot milk + 2 tablespoons hot water (or rice cooked water). Also prepare 2 tbsps chopped mint/coriander leaves, 2 tbsps fried onions, 1 to 2 pinches biryani masala and ghee.

14. Before you layer the rice over the chicken, do check the following points:

  • The gravy should be thick yet of pouring consistency (not runny & not dropping consistency)
  • It is essential for the chicken gravy and the pot to be hot.
  • The cooked rice needs to be steaming hot.
  • If the above points are not met, your dum cook time (steaming time will be different)

15. Give a good stir and spread the chicken in the pot evenly. This is the right consistency.

16. Layer 1 tablespoon brown onions and then rice all over the chicken. Sprinkle 1 to 2 pinches biryani masala, mint coriander leaves, ghee and saffron milk water & the rest of the fried onions.

17. If you are not using a Dutch oven, seal the pot with a foil or a moist clean cloth (not dry cloth). Turn on the flame on a medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Lower the heat to low and dum cook for another 18 to 20 minutes. Turn off and rest for 10 minutes.

If you are not using a heavy bottom pot like a Dutch oven, a sandwiched bottom pot or a triply cookware, place a tawa on the stove and then your cookware. Cook for 5 mins on a high heat and then on a medium heat for 18 to 20 mins.

18. When you open the pot, your rice grains should have curled meaning the rice has been dum cooked well. If not, next time you may increase the cook time. The cook time changes slightly with the kind and size of stove/burner.

19. Garnish with more fried onions and coriander/mint leaves if you want. Serve Chicken biryani with a large rice paddle in a way that each portion gets the chicken from the bottom and the rice from top in layers.

What to serve – Cucumber Raita and onion salad go well with this biryani. In India we also serve this with a biryani gravy known as shorba, or with this chicken kurma (not korma) and with kachumber or onion raita.

What you need for a good biryani?

To make a good biryani, always use best quality ingredients. The choice of good quality basmati rice, whole spices, spice powders, chicken & ghee all contribute to the flavors of chicken biryani.

Basmati rice: There are so many kinds of basmati rice available in the market. For best results choose premium quality basmati rice that is labelled as AGED. This kind of rice is more firm & fluffs up well in chicken biryani without turning mushy. Aged rice is also more fragrant.

Though this biryani is made in a pressure cooker or pot, the texture of rice grains will come out right without getting mushy if made with aged rice.

Biryani masala (spices): Good quality whole spices & spice powders elevate the flavor of chicken biryani. So choose a good quality ready made garam masala powder or biryani masala.

I am also sharing the ingredients for an instant biriyani masala powder. If you do not have a ready made or store bought masala, you can make it in just few minutes.

Chicken: We usually use up the cut whole chicken to make the chicken biryani. However I always find chicken breast pieces dry out if not marinated well with yogurt. If you prefer soft, tender & succulent pieces of chicken in your biryani, then just use chicken thighs & drumsticks.

Always use bone-in chicken as it helps the dish to turn out more flavorful.

Ghee: Traditionally chicken biryani was made using ghee. Since this recipe does not follow the traditional method, you can also make it using oil. But ghee adds a unique aroma to the dish.

Expert Tips to make the Best Chicken Biryani

  • Marination: Marinating chicken with yogurt & spices is the first key step to make the best chicken biryani. Yogurt tenderizes the chicken & the spices enhance the flavors. Marinating and resting chicken makes it soft & succulent, so do not skip that. If you do not eat curd then can substitute it with coconut milk.
  • Preparing rice : Basmati rice has to be rinsed very well a few times in ample amount of water to get rid of the starch. This prevents the rice grains from turning mushy. Soaking the rice helps to cook the rice grains to fluffy & long. So do not skip rinsing & soaking the rice well before using.
  • Water : This recipe uses plain water to cook the chicken biryani. However it can be replaced with chicken stock. The quantity of water I have mentioned in the recipe card works well for me with Lalquilla old malai basmati rice. This ratio works pretty well with any aged basmati rice.
  • Please do adjust the amount of heat in the recipe. My recipes are usually low on heat for the Indian taste buds. Since I have young kids at home., these levels work well for us.