This is the best spicy chicken biryani rice made with fragrant basmati rice, curry leaf, spices, ginger, garlic, marinated tender chicken, fresh mint, cilantro, toasted cashews, and golden raisins. There are a lot of ingredients and spices; however, it's straightforward to make.
This chicken biryani recipe is similar to Hyderabadi chicken biryani, but slightly different with the addition of toasted golden raisins, cashews, and fresh mint leaves. In my opinion, this rice dish is better than Hyderabadi biryani!
Why This Works
This is not categorized as a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern recipe, but I had to share it with you because it's life-changing good. If you are trying to use new spices and flavors in your kitchen and 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 many 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.
When it comes to Indian recipes, it's easy to feel intimidated and overwhelmed 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.
Chicken biryani rice has a lot of ingredients and spices. I will break down the spices into three categories: chicken marinade, biryani rice, and biryani rice toppings.
Chicken Biryani Marinade Ingredients
- Chicken: Use skinless chicken breast or a whole chicken cut up without the skin. Boneless skinless chicken breast is also an option.
- Yogurt: Use plain yogurt, either fat-free or full-fat.
- Chili powder: I like to use Kashmiri chili powder, however, any red chilli 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 essential 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 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 preference.
- Fresh curry leaf: This ingredient is 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: Use whole dried green cardamoms.
- Red onion: I prefer red onion, however, white onion and yellow onion are an appropriate substitute.
- Tomatoes: Any fresh tomato will work.
- Bay leaf: Use dried bay leaves for the rice.
- 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 it's 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 leave are used for this recipe. I do not recommend using dried mint. If you don't have fresh mint on hand, omit the mint.
- Cilantro: Use fresh cilantro for this recipe.
- Onion: Yellow onion, white, onion, and sweet onion are the best fried onion options. This onion is pan-fried or deep-fried.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for ingredient quantities.
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 leaves, 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.
Add the yogurt, garam masala powder, biryani powder, chili powder, and turmeric powder in a bowl.
Mix everything. 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 grains 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.
Mash the garlic and fresh ginger with a mortar and pestle until pulverized. A ginger garlic paste will form.
Add the ghee and coconut oil to a large pot on medium-high heat. Once it's hot, add the cinnamon stick, curry leaf, red onion, cardamom pods, star anise, and bay leaf.
Add the mashed garlic and ginger paste once the red onion softens. Then, add the sliced green chilies, marinated chicken pieces, and chopped tomatoes. Mix well. Turn the heat to medium and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the soaked basmati rice.
Pour in the water (or stock). Mix everything. Turn the heat on high to get the rice to a boil. Once the rice starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium.
Once the water is level with the rice, stir the rice with two turns. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes on very 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 in a frying pan on medium heat until the color changes.
Slice the white onion into circles. Deep fry in oil or pan-fry in olive oil until golden brown. Remove the fried onions using a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate.
Chop the mint and cilantro (coriander leaves).
Mix the fresh herbs into the fluffy rice. Top the rice with toasted cashews, golden raisins, and caramelized onions.
Serve the cooked rice as a complete meal alongside a yogurt salad or bowl of homemade yogurt.
Tips and Tricks
- Two types of chicken work best 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.
- 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 long-grain rice(like basmati rice). Basmati rice is the best for this recipe, with sona masoori as a close second!
Substitutions and Variations
- Use boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breast.
- Make this instant pot chicken biryani by cooking the rice in a pressure cooker.
- Turn up the spice by adding more red chili powder or green chilis.
Store chicken biryani in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you make chicken biryani at home, you can control the spice. The recipe is spicy because of red chili powder and green chilies.
Chicken biryani is aromatic rice that has fresh herbs, whole spices, fried onions, dried fruit, nuts, and marinated meat.
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Spicy 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.
I’ve never made Biryani before. I have eaten plenty of it from Indian Restaurants. I work with a lot of Indian & Pakastani people, not to mention my husband is Guyanese. (I’m American Caucasian). I’ve ALWAYS love to eat from other cultures, I find the flavors AMAZING compared to what I grew up with. I just finished making it today and took it to work for the boys, they couldn’t stop eating! I was so proud I pulled it off & I’m so grateful for this recipe. I love good spicy so I think the only thing I’ll change next time is added more pepper. Thank you so much. My only Biryani recipe I’ll ever make again!
Thank you Kelsey for the comment, it’s comments like these that inspire my desire to share recipes!! This biryani recipe is actually given to me by my fried Sophia. It’s a little intimidating the first time, but so so worth it.
I like Chicken Biryani, but have never made it myself. Thank you for sharing the step by step instructions, looking forward to making it.
Oh yea it's super easy once you give it a go! Hope you like it.
Sounds and looks incredibly delicious! I've always wanted to give this recipe a try, thanks for sharing!
Hope you like it, thanks for the comment!
Love all the spices and flavours in this recipe. And the delicious textures of cashews and raisins, Never tried mint on top of a rice dish before and it was surprisingly tasty. We all enjoyed it with naan breads 🙂
So glad you liked the recipe!
This turned out so good! The fresh mint, cardamom and ginger added such a wonderful flavor.
So glad you liked it!
Lauren Vavala Harris
This is one of my husbands favorite recipes! Saving this so I can make it for him soon - looks amazing!
Thanks so much for the comment and hope he enjoys it!