Easy Chicken Biryani Recipe, a delicious chicken dinner that is bursting with amazing flavours. Spiced rice cooked to perfection and chicken cooked in fragrant, but mild Indian spices are combined in one fantastic dish that everyone in the family can enjoy.
What is biryani
Biryani, also spelt biriyani, breyani or biriani, is so popular all over the world, and there are quite a few variations of this dish. The main ingredients are spiced rice, meat and seasoning in one dish, and here it is entirely up to you how little or how much you use.
For my easy chicken biryani recipe I chose boneless, skinless chicken thighs, as they are flavourful and very easy to cook. There are 4 main steps for cooking biryani: marinating the chicken, pre-boiling the rice in spices, cooking the chicken, and assembling the dish.
Ingredients needed to make the marinade
- boneless, skinless chicken thighs - I did not dice them, but cooked the whole
- yogurt - I chose Greek yogurt, but plain natural yogurt also works
- Indian spices: garam masala, ground cumin, ground turmeric, chilli flakes, ground coriander and paprika
Step-by-step instructions on marinating the chicken
- in a small bowl, add the garam masala, ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, paprika and chilli flakes
- add the yogurt and mix well to get a smooth paste
- the chicken thighs are now added to the mixture and coated very well in the spiced yogurt
- cover the bowl with clingfilm, and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour, ideally more
Ingredients needed for the spiced rice
- basmati rice
- cardamom pods, star anise, cloves, bay leaf, cinnamon stick
- rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear
- add it to a pan together with the water, salt and spices, and boil the rice until it's about 80% cooked, it will cook further afterwards
Ingredients needed to cook the chicken
- onions - I used small regular onions, but you can use one large onion, or red onion
- garlic cloves - garlic puree is also ok
- fresh ginger - ginger paste is also ok
- oil - I used vegetable oil, but ghee is another option
- spices: garam masala, turmeric, red chilli peppers, bay leaf, saffron
- chicken stock/broth
- marinated chicken
- fresh parsley - or coriander for garnishing
Step-by-step instructions to cook and assemble the biryani
- heat up the oil in a large pan
- add the onions cut julienne and fry until golden
- reserve half of the onions and set aside
- over the remaining onions in the pan add the garam masala, turmeric, chopped garlic and ginger and chilli peppers
- stir for 30 seconds so that the flavours are released
- add the chicken thighs in one layer, and cook them on both sides until seared
- pour over the chicken stock, and leave it to cook with the lid on until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is reduced by quarter
- in a small bowl, add the saffron, add 2 tablespoons of warm water, and set aside for 10 minutes for the saffron to soak
- add the preboiled rice to the chicken, top it with the remaining onions, drizzle the saffron liquid over, and scatter chopped parsley over
- place the lid back on, and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes until the rice is cooked through
- remove the pan from the heat, but leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes
- serve straight after
Whether you go for a strong-flavoured or a mild version, this biryiani can be be adapted to your own taste and lifestyle. Swap the chicken for beef - my beef biriyani is absolutely delicious, mutton, lamb or any other meat of your choice.
But be mindful, the cooking time will be longer, as the meat will not be tender as quickly as chicken is.
Or make it completely vegetarian, but adding a range of vegetables: cauliflower, baby corn, green beans, eggplant, whatever you have in the fridge. In this case, it will be ready in no time.
You can also use saffron to make it even more flavourful, I know it's a tad expensive, but I guess if you use it in many other dishes, it's worth the extra expense. Otherwise, just a bit of turmeric with milk can be drizzled over the rice to give it that distinctive biryani touch. I used diced chicken breast, but you can also use drumsticks, thighs, or whole chicken legs.
Other Indian recipes
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Easy Chicken Biryani Recipe
For the marinade
- 450 g boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 lb)
- ¼ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
For the spiced rice
- 1 ½ cup basmati rice
- 6 cardamom pods
- 4 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
For the biryani
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 3 small onions
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 2 cm fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 red chilli peppers
- ⅔ cup chicken stock/broth
- 2 tablespoon fresh parsley or coriander
- To prepare the marinade, add the yogurt to a bowl together with the spices, and mix well to get a smooth paste.
- Add the chicken thighs and mix well to get them well coated in the spiced yogurt.
- Cover the bowl with clingfilm, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, ideally longer.
- Rinse the rice under cold water until the water runs clear.
- Add the rice to a pan together with all the spices and plenty of water - bring it to the boil and cook until the rice is nearly cooked, but it still holds its shape well and there is still water left.
- Drain the water, and set aside.
- Peel and cut the onions julliene.
- Heat up the oil in a large pan, add the onions, and fry on a small to medium heat until they are golden.
- Remove half of the onions and set aside for garnishing the dish later.
- Over the remaining onions in the pan, add the peeled and chopped garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, red chilli peppers and bay leaf and give it a good stir.
- In goes the chicken, stirring well, then increase the temperature to medium to high.
- Leave to cook on both sides for 5 minutes, then add the chicken broth.
- Cover with a lid and leave it to cook until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is reduced to a quarter.
- In a small bowl, add the saffron, pour 2 tablespoons of warm water, and set aside for 10 minutes.
- Bring the temperature down to a medium heat, add the preboiled rice to the chicken in one layer, scatter around the cooked onions, drizzle the saffron over, and garnish with chopped parsley.
- Place the lid on and cook for 10 minutes for the rice to be cooked through.
- Remove the pan from the heat, and leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes.
- Serve straight after.
- Swap the chicken for beef - my beef biriyani is absolutely delicious, mutton, lamb or any other meat of your choice.
- But be mindful, the cooking time will be longer, as the meat will not be tender as quickly as chicken is.
- Or make it completely vegetarian, but adding a range of vegetables: cauliflower, baby corn, green beans, eggplant, whatever you have in the fridge. In this case, it will be ready in no time.
- Make sure you use a non-stick pan, otherwise the chicken might stick to it at the very last stage.