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Chicken Biryani

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Biryani is arguably the most preferred dish of choice in any festival. Biryani in Tamil Nadu occupies the pride of place when it comes to non-vegetarian food. It has many variations - Ambur Biryani is the traditional South Arcot Muslim type while Dindigul has its own variety. Originally Biryani was made with the small rice called as 'Seeraga Samba'. The long slender Basmati rice is increasingly used for making Biryani these days.

'Awadhi Biryani was the choice of food for the Mughal emperors who laced the rice with Saffron and used Yoghurt to marinate and soften the lamb. It is said that the Mughal Armies marched and fought day long after eating just Biryanis as it gave them extra sustained energy for the whole day.' - Quoted from Healthy Rice Recipes for Dinner Book.

Dum Biryani refers to the method where the rice, spices and the meat are cooked in a deep Aluminium vessel covered with a tight fitting lid sealed with dough. They add hot coal on the top of the lid. The slow cooking process makes the meat tender and brings out the best from the spices.


Chicken - One and half kgs
Basmati Rice - One and half kgs
Oil - 600 gms
Ginger Garlic Paste - 300 gms
Chilli Powder - 50 gms
Green Chillies - 15 pieces (medium sized)
Tomato - 500 gms
(Ripe Nattu Thakkali)
Mint - 1 small bunch
Coriander - 2 small bunches
Cloves - 8 pieces
Cinnamon - 1 medium sized stick
Cardamom - 5 pieces
Onion - 250 gms
Lemon - 2 nos.
Curd - 1 ltr.


  • Cut onion lengthwise. Divide into halves.

  • Cut tomato into 4 pieces.

  • Extract lemon juice and keep aside.

  • Strip pudina (mint) leaves. Wash, cut and keep aside.

  • Strip coriander leaves. Wash, cut and keep aside. Optional to include tender coriander stems.

  • Wash chicken, drain water completely and keep aside.


  1. Place the bigger vessel on the stove. Allow the bottom of the vessel to heated well.

  2. Add oil. Put cloves, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pieces. Wait for few seconds and as it splits add half the quantity of onions. Add full quantity of ginger, garlic paste.

  3. Simmer and allow the onions, ginger and garlic paste to cook. This should take less than 10 minutes.

  4. Add chicken. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of salt and mix well. Add the remaining onions pieces.

  5. Close the vessel with an aluminum lid. Continue to cook in low flame. Using a ladle, stir the contents of the vessel. Allow it to cook for 15 minutes.

  6. Remove the lid. Add chili powder, green chilies, tomatoes, coriander, pudina, lemon juice and curd.

  7. Stir well, close the lid and allow the contents to cook well. Continue to cook on low flame.

  8. Occasionally stir the contents slowly. After about 20 minutes you may notice the oil separate.

  9. Wash the Basmati rice and let it remain soaked in water for not more than 10 minutes.

  10. At this juncture place the other vessel on the stove. Add water, 4 times the quantity of rice.

  11. Allow the water to boil, add salt to taste. Remember you have added salt for the chicken gravy.

  12. As the water starts to boil, transfer soaked rice. Close with a perfect lid. Cook on low flame.

  13. When the rice is half cooked, without delaying quickly drain out water. Do not throw the drained water.

  14. Immediately, transfer half cooked rice (sprinkle kesar powder over rice if required) to the chicken gravy. Slowly mix the contents. Ensure rice doesn't get smashed.

  15. Put a dosa tava on the stove and place the vessel. Take a neat newspaper and place it on top of the vessel and then keep the lid. On top of the lid, place the drained water. The vessel is now airtight.

  16. Simmer for about 5 - 10 minutes. Wait for few minutes and open lid. The aroma of Biryani would confirm that the cooking is completed.

  17. Serve hot with onion raitha or brinjal tamarind gravy.


Preferably, use Aluminium vessels for cooking authentic chicken Biryani. Two Aluminium vessels, one for cooking basmati rice (2 Kgs) and another for cooking the gravy (3 kgs) is required. The ingredients are the same for one to one and half kgs of chicken and equal quantity of basmati rice. This quantity serves 7-8 people. For mutton Biryani, use mutton and follow the same method.

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South Indian Recipes - Chicken Biryani