Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani

Hyderabadi Chicken biryani

It's the weekend. Time to chill, relax and eat good food. Even better if I don't have to do the cooking :). No, I am not usually "order from the takeaway" type, and the Lord knows that if you want to have a good "curry" - Curry here being the British invention of the word that is meant to be a synonym for "Indian Food", then Zurich is not the best place for it restaurant-wise. There, I said it! I mean, ok, there are nice Indian restaurants, but, modesty be damned, the food we cook at home is usually a lot better and a lot less greasier, a lot spicier (read tastier ;-p) than the cream laden dishes a lot of Indian places serve.
Anyways, I digressed. Where was I? Weekend - yes. So weekends is when we most certainly make one dish almost unfailingly - Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani. And why is that? It is very simple and easy, quick, and is very very tasty! But most importantly,Darling husband loves to cook this dish! And I couldn't be happier about it :-D

  • It uses a lot of whole spices. I strongly recommend buying the whole spices, rather than store bought powders. It wouldn't be expensive, and once you have made a proper biryani, you'll repeat the recipe so many times (yes, I am sure of that!), that they'll be used up in no time.
  • It is an easy recipe. But ONLY if you know the pitfalls and how to avoid them. These are mentioned at the end of the post

  • Hyderabadi Chicken biryani

    • 2 pieces each of cardamom, mace, cloves, cinnamon sticks, green cardamoms
    • 6 pepper corns
    • salt - to taste
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
    • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
    • 1 tablespoons crushed garlic
    • 2 cups basmati rice
    • Handful of fried onions (optional)
    • A handful of chopped coriander(cilantro) leaves
    • 1 stalk of chopped fresh mint leaves
    • 500 grams chicken pieces cut into small pieces
    • 5 green chilli (deseeded if you prefer)
    • 2 + 1 tablespoon oil or ghee(clarified butter)
    • 1 tablespoon finely chopped/grated fresh ginger
    • 1/2 tsp saffron strands soaked in 1 tablespoon warm water(optional)
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric
    • 2 cup full fat yoghurt


    1) Soak rice for 30 minutes in enough water to cover
    2) In the mean time, marinate the chicken. Take the chicken pieces in a large bowl and add in the 2 tablespoons oil, yoghurt and all the spices mentioned above, except saffron.
    3) After 30 minutes, drain the rice
    4) Take a pot of water and add the drained rice to it.
    5) Add the salt to the rice, and taste it. Adjust the salt to your taste
    6) Add in the remaining oil, a teaspoon of cumin seeds and let it cook for about 5 minutes or so.
    7) Very important - When the rice is beginning to come to a boil, not a full rolling boil, but just beginning to, take it off the heat and drain. The rice grains should be half cooked.
    8)In a deep, heavy bottomed dish, layer all of the marinated chicken. Press it down gently
    9) Add the half cooked, drained rice on top of the chicken
    10) Add the saffron and saffron soaked water, if using. Also add some chopped cilantro, and sliced onions
    11) Cover with a lid and cook. Make sure the lid is a tight one. Cook on medium-high for 5 minutes, medium for 15 minutes, and then 15 minutes on low heat.
    You should start getting the sweet aroma of the spices in your kitchen.
    Serve with plain youghurt or raita.


  • Overcooked rice.
    • Use good quality basmati rice for biryani
    • Do not soak it for longer than 30 minutes.
    • Only half cook the rice before layering on to the chicken. To check, take a few grains of rice and apply a little pressure with your fingertips. If it breaks apart - it is half cooked. If it gets squished, it is overcooked for the biryani :(
  • Burnt chicken
    • Since chicken forms the bottom layer for the cooking, if left to cook on a high heat, it will get easily burnt.
    • Use a heavy bottomed pan
  • Watery Chicken Biryani
    • Drain the rice before layering on the chicken. The steam within the pot will cook the dish.
    • Do not use a pressure cooker for this preparation

    There it is. A primer for the perfect Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani. A dish that we love. When people go to Hyderabad, India, this is one of the things on every tourist's menu. Traditionally it is server with raita and another very spicy dish called "Mirchi ka Salan". Oh my mouth is watering! There are very few dishes on the planet that I can never say no to. This holds a very high position. Try it. I cannot recommend it enough.

    P.S. - Writing this post is almost like making a PowerPoint presentation. That was the last time I used so many bullet points!


    1. Nice pictures... I make it the same way... happened to see a similar recipe at vahrevah website... and u r right, once u try this out u will definitely make it regularly... due to its taste and simplicity of prep...

    2. Lovely snapshots and a good step by step deconstruction of the process! Thanks for this post.

      Personally still prefer the biryanis from further South! :-)

    3. Jumping up and down excitedly. I can smell this rice. Ooooh can I have some? I agree with you with the use of whole spices the powders lose their aromatic oils so quickly