Bland Chicken? Not in My ‘Mom’s’ Kitchen. Spicy Chicken Biryani with Yogurt

As Risottos are to Italy and Paellas to Spain, Biryani are to all of South East Asia, pinnacles of rice cookery. As they are one dish meals, the time is considered well spent.  Aromatic ingredients such as Saffron, Cardamom, and Kewra/Rose water take this dish to another level to please all your senses.

A raw meat biryani requires that you combine raw but marinated meat with partially cooked rice and then let them both cook gently together to make a harmonious one pot dish. The meat and the delicate basmati rice need to be done at the same moment, a tricky operation where timing and technique are all.

My version of ‘The Hyderabadi Biryani’ is marinated meat with an assortment of Indian herbs, spices and yogurt. I tend to add Kewra Water which gives a delicate, sweet aroma when the dish is revealed.  This is one dish which will please all plates. My version tends to be a bit spicy; feel free to omit the chili’s to accommodate your personal taste buds.


  • 2 Cornish Chickens skinned and cut into small pieces
  • 4 cups. Basmati Rice
  • 500 g. Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. Red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp. garam masala
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 medium onions (thin slices)
  • 3tbs. Garlic (crushed)
  • 2tsp. Ginger (crushed)
  • 10-12 green chilies
  • 1 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
  • 1\2 cup oil 
  • Few strands of saffron, soaked in warm water
  • Kewra Essence

Chicken in Yogurt Marinade


  1. Fry the onions until light brown.  
  2.  Remove the onions from the oil and reserve 1\4 onions for later use.
    Put the fried onions, garlic, ginger, coriander leaves, mint, green chilies, yogurt, garam masala, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and blend to a paste. Marinate the chicken with the yogurt mixture overnight in a refrigerator.
  3.  Put the rice in a sieve and wash it thoroughly under a running cold tap until the water runs clear. In a large heavy based pan put plenty of water and add 1 stick cinnamon, 6 cloves, 5 big cardamoms, 8 small cardamoms, 2 bay leaves and salt. Bring it to a rapid boil and add the washed rice. When the rice are 1\4 cooked, drain and keep aside.
  4. In a large deep pan place 1\2 cup of oil,  then place the chicken with all the marinade.  
  5. Cover the meat with the rice and level it with a spatula. Sprinkle reserved fried onions, saffron, and kewra on the top of the rice.
    Cover the pan with thick aluminum foil and then place the lid.
  6. Allow to cook for 20 minutes on medium heat then reduce the heat to a very low and cook for further 15 to 20 minutes,  until the rice and meat are tender.
    Let the rice rest for at least 10 minutes then remove the lid and fluff the rice with the meat.
  7. Serve hot with Raita. Enjoy!!

Note: You can substitute chicken for mutton or Lamb. You will have to pre-cook the red meat completely before continuing with bullet 4 to finish the biryani.

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