24 August 2019 Lorraine 2Comment
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I have made tons of Biryani in my lifetime but I still find new ways of making them all the time. With Indian cooking I think it’s how it is. You make the same dish a hundred times but you never always use the exact same recipe. Have you found yourself doing that? I cook with spices almost everyday and when it comes to Indian food I never look at a recipe. This Chicken Biryani is one of those that I have probably adjusted the spices a few times already. I love Biryani so I make it my mission to make a delicious one or there’s no point eating it.

Diet or not, I think you have to add some butter or ghee to round off your Biryani.  It is just not the same without the addition of this key ingredient. Trust me on this, and it’s not just because I love butter so much….haha!  I usually pop my Biryani in the oven for a short while but this time I made it on the stovetop.

Fragrant and Aromatic Rice and Chicken dish

Most people are intimidated by the thought of cooking a Biryani. If you marinate your chicken overnight and prepare everything beforehand it’s actually not that difficult. For this Chicken Biryani I tried to keep it as fuss-free as possible so it can be a pleasure to cook.  Most biryanis call for the addition of Saffron but I don’t always use it in my Biryani. If I am out of Saffron I just add a little food colouring to colour the rice.

Hope I won’t be frowned upon. Have to admit that in this instance I did use canned Lentils. Well I had to make a plan since I didn’t have any dry lentils.

I was chatting to my mum-in-law a few days ago and she said no matter what you cook, if it’s made with love and care your food will automatically taste great. I have to agree with this. So remember to cook with love!

Fragrant and Aromatic Rice and Chicken dish

More Chicken Recipes to enjoy:

Chicken Karahi with Spinach

Butter Chicken

Oven Baked Tandoori Chicken

Chicken Biryani

A fragrant, aromatic Indian dish made with rice, chicken and loads of spice
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Biryani, Breyani
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 8



  • 2 cups Basmati Rice see note 1
  • 3 small pieces cinnamon sticks
  • 6 elachie pods
  • salt

Chicken Marinade

  • 1.5 kg chicken I used breasts, thighs and drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 3 Roma tomatoes blanched and blended
  • 2 tbsp masala see note 2
  • 2 tbsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 3 tspn ground cumin
  • 4 tspn ground coriander
  • 1 tspn turmeric
  • 1 tspn ground soomph/fennel
  • 1/2 tspn ground elachie/cardamom
  • 1 tbsp garam masala


  • few drops oil
  • 100 gram butter
  • 3 pieces cinnamon sticks, abut 4cm each
  • 2 star aniseed
  • 3 bay leaf
  • 2 black elachie/cardamom
  • 2 large onion finely chopped
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  • 2 large potatoes each cut into 8 cubes
  • 1x400 gram can of brown lentils
  • 1/2 cup oil required only if frying onion. See note 3
  • 1/4 tspn saffron mixed with 3 tbsp warm water (optional)



  • If you are using Chicken breasts, cut them into medium sized cubes. Marinate the chicken with all the spices, cardamom, cumin, coriander, turmeric, garam masala, soomph, chilli powder, yogurt and the pureed tomatoes. Refrigerate overnight or for an hour


  • Wash rice, add cinnamon and cardamom. Add salt and cook as per package instructions until fully cooked
  • Sprinkle a little food colouring over (if you are not using saffron) together with half the remaining butter. Cover and set aside


  • Heat 2 tablespoon butter from half the remaining butter and a few drops oil. Add the cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, star aniseed and black cardamom. Fry until fragrant
  • Add the curry leaf, thyme and onion. Sauté until the onion is golden brown
  • Add the marinated Chicken. Add salt and cook on high heat for 5 minutes
  • Add potatoes. Reduce the heat. Simmer until the potatoes are soft and tender. I did not need to add water to my chicken but if you feel your chicken is too dry add a half cup of water. You do require enough gravy in your chicken
  • Rinse the lentils and add to the chicken in the last ten minutes of cooking time

Onion (Optional)

  • If you want to add some crispy fried onion on top of the Biryani. Heat half a cup of oil in a pot and fry the onion until brown and crisp. Drain on a paper towel and set aside


  • Once the Chicken is cooked add the leftover butter to it. Fluff up the rice and spread over the chicken. Pour the saffron over. Sprinkle the fried onions on top, if using. Cover the pot and steam for 5 minutes.
    Fragrant and Aromatic Rice and Chicken dish


  1. I used Basmati Rice but you can easily use long grain rice. It won't be as fragrant but it works perfectly fine
  2. I use a medium masala, called Rumbo Russo, purchased from the spice shops in Durban. However, you an increase the amount of Kashmiri chilli powder and use just that
  3. You an totally omit the fried onion. It does add a lovely flavor to the biryani but not totally necessary



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