This is the best Indian chicken biryani rice made with fragrant basmati rice, curry leaf, spices, ginger, garlic, marinated chicken, fresh mint, cilantro, toasted cashews, and golden raisins. There are a lot of ingredients and spices, however, it's really straightforward and easy to make.
What I Love About This Recipe
This is not really categorized as a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern recipe, but I could not pass up sharing it with you because it's life-changing good. If you are on the quest for using new spices and flavors in your kitchen, love chicken and rice, give this recipe a shot.
Also, this recipe makes a pretty large batch of chicken biryani rice. I've kept the serving size high because I like food options that can be reheated easily in the week.
Authentic Indian Biryani
Authentic Indian biryani requires a lot of tips and tricks passed through the family. My friend Sophia, gave me this recipe and supervised me making it a few times. I've never tried to make Indian chicken biryani rice at home, until now. I have some sort of mental block when it comes to Indian recipes because it feels intimidating with all of the different types of spices and flavors. Well, guys, I am the perfect reason for you to try this! If I can do it, so can you. Literally.
Chicken biryani rice has a lot of ingredients and spices. I'm going to break down the spices into three categories: chicken marinade, biryani rice, and biryani rice toppings.
Chicken Biryani Marinade Ingredients
- Chicken: Either use skinless chicken breast or a whole chicken cut up without the skin. Boneless skinless chicken breast is also an option.
- Yogurt: I recommend plain yogurt. It doesn't matter if it's fat-free or full fat, whichever you prefer.
- Chili powder: I like to use Kashmiri chili powder, however any type of chili powder is suitable. If you do not like spice, omit the chili powder.
- Biryani masala powder: You might need to find this ingredient in a specialty grocery store or online. Biryani masala powder is a variety of ground spices that is an important ingredient in this recipe.
- Ground garam masala powder: Look for this in a specialty grocery store or online if you can't find it in your local grocery store.
- Paprika: Any kind of ground paprika works.
- Tumeric: Ground turmeric gives this biryani recipe a nice color.
- Lemon: Fresh lemon is the best option for this recipe.
- Salt to taste
Biryani Rice Ingredients
- Basmati rice: Basmati rice is the preferred rice for this dish. Sona masoori rice is a second option.
- Fresh curry leaf: This is an ingredient that's hard to find at a local grocery store. I highly recommend using this ingredient if you can find it. Dried curry leaf is an appropriate substitute.
- Garlic: I always recommend using fresh garlic. In this case, the garlic and ginger will be mashed together.
- Fresh ginger: Use fresh ginger with the peel removed, if possible
- Cardamom pods: I use whole dried cardamom pods.
- Red onion: I prefer red onion, however, white onion and yellow onion are an appropriate substitute.
- Tomatoes: Any type of fresh tomato will work.
- Bay leaf: Dried bay leaf is what I use for this recipe.
- Cinnamon: Ground cinnamon is not an appropriate substitute. This recipe needs a whole cinnamon stick.
- Star anise: This spice has a licorice taste and adds a lot of flavor to the rice. This ingredient needs to be whole as well. If its ground, it will add too much flavor which will overpower the rest of the dish.
Biryani Rice Topping Ingredients
- Golden raisins: Brown raisins are not an appropriate substitute. You can find golden raisins at your local grocery store. The raisins can be toasted or not toasted at all.
- Cashews: I recommend buying raw cashews and toasting them.
- Mint: Fresh mint is used for this recipe. I do not recommend using dried mint. If you don't have fresh mint on hand, just omit the mint.
- Cilantro: Fresh cilantro is needed for this recipe.
- Onion: Yellow onion, white onion, and sweet onion are the best option for fried onion. This onion is pan-fried or deep-fried.
What Is Curry Leaf?
Fresh curry leaf is an herb that is different from curry powder. Curry leaf is very aromatic and adds a lot of flavor. When cooking with curry leaf, remove the leaves individually from the stem.
How To Make Indian Chicken Biryani Rice
Chicken biryani rice is split into three stages: marinating the chicken, making the rice, and making the rice toppings. I've broken these three stages into more detail in the next sections.
Marinate The Chicken
Remove the skin from the chicken, if there is any. Cut the chicken into 2" (5 cm) sections. Squeeze some fresh lemon and salt on the chicken. Let sit while preparing the biryani marinade.
In a bowl, add the yogurt, garam masala powder, biryani powder, chili powder, and turmeric. Mix everything together. It will look a little bit like spicy mustard.
Add the biryani marinade to the chicken and mix well. Let the chicken marinate for a minimum of 15 minutes. Soak the basmati rice for 10 minutes while the chicken is marinating.
Make The Biryani Rice
Prepare the ingredients. Slice the red onion. Slice the chili peppers down the middle. Roughly chop the tomatoes. Remove the peel from the ginger and cut it into similar-sized pieces as the garlic. Using a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and fresh ginger together until pulverized.
In a large pot on high heat, add the ghee and coconut oil. Add the cinnamon stick, curry leaf, red onion, cardamom pods, star anise, and bay leaf.
Once the red onion starts to soften, add the mashed garlic and ginger paste. Add the sliced chili peppers, chicken, and chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Turn the heat to medium and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the strained basmati rice and 6 cups of water. Mix everything together. Turn the heat on high to get the rice to a boil. Once the rice started boiling, reduce the heat to medium again.
Once the water is at level with the rice, stir the rice with 2 turns. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for about 15 minutes on low heat or until the rice is tender.
Prepare The Biryani Rice Topping
Roast the cashews and golden raisins in a pan in the oven at 400 ℉ (205 ℃) for 5 minutes. Alternatively, roast in a pan on the stovetop on medium heat until the color starts to change. Slice the white onion into circles. Deep fry in oil or pan-fry in olive oil.
Chop the mint and cilantro (coriander). Mix the mint and cilantro into the rice. Top the rice with toasted cashews, golden raisins, and fried onions.
Tips and Tricks
- There are two types of chicken I've liked for this recipe: a whole chicken cut up into pieces with the bone (remove the skin) and using chicken breast chunks without the skin and bone. You choose whatever you prefer.
- Marinate the chicken. The chicken can be marinated while soaking the rice and preparing the biryani rice ingredients.
- Use ghee. If you don't have ghee on hand, you can use butter. The taste will not be the same, but it will still be close enough.
- Use basmati rice. Basmati rice is the best rice for this recipe with sona masoori as a close second!
Like This Recipe? Try Our Other Faves
Indian Chicken Biryani Rice
Chicken & Marinade
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast or substitute double the weight with bone-in chicken (skin removed)
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- ½ tablespoon turmeric powder
- 1 ½ tablespoon ground garam masala powder
- 2 tablespoon ground biryani masala powder
- ½ tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 4 cups basmati rice
- 6 cups water
- 5 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 8 whole cardamom pods
- 4 star of anise
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 3 whole fresh chili
- 4 tablespoon ghee
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 medium red onion
- 3 small tomato or 2 medium tomatoes
- 10 fresh curry leaves
- 4 bay leaves
Biryani Rice Toppings
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro coriander
- 1 cup chopped fresh mint **optional
- 40 cashews
- ¼ cup of golden raisins
- 1 white onion fried
Prepare and Marinate the Chicken
- Cut the chicken into desired pieces. Add lemon and salt to the chicken.
- In a separate bowl, add 1 cup of yogurt, turmeric powder, ground garam masala powder, ground biryani masala powder, chili powder, and paprika. Mix all of the ingredients together.
- Add the yogurt biryani marinade to the chicken and mix well. Let the chicken rest for a minimum of 15 minutes.
Prepare the Biryani Rice
- Soak the basmati rice in water for 10 minutes.
- On medium heat. Add oil and ghee to the pan. Add the whole cardamom, cinnamon stick, curry leaf, bay leaf, star of anise, and sliced red onion.
- Mash the garlic and ginger paste with a mortar and pestle.
- Once the onion starts to get golden brown, add the crushed garlic and ginger.
- Add chili peppers that are sliced down the center.
- Add the chicken and mix well.
- Add the chopped tomatoes. Continue to cook on medium for 10 minutes covered.
- Add basmati rice. Mix well.
- Add 6 cups water and turn heat to high uncovered. Once the rice starts to boil, then turn to medium.
- Once the water goes below the rice, mix slowly 2 turns, then cover the rice and turn to low heat. Rice is cooked once tender (after about 15 minutes).
Prepare the Biryani Rice Toppings
- Slice the white onion.
- In a separate pot, fry the white onion in vegetable oil to a golden brown color. Alternatively, pan fry the onion in some olive oil.
- Wash and remove the mint and cilantro leaves. Chop the mint and cilantro.
- Toast the cashews in a dry pan on medium heat.
- On top of the biryani, add the fried onion, toasted cashews, golden raisins, chopped cilantro, and chopped mint.
- The nutrition facts are using 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast.