Sunday, May 9, 2021

Chicken Biryani

 Eid is always an excuse to make Biryani. This particular biryani recipe is a recipe I found in this beautiful book by Bree Hutchins called Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka. She follows several Sri Lankan families from different parts of the country and the book features lots of Sri Lankan favorites. This Biryani recipe looked so good I just had to try.

I didn't have any korma curry paste so added few spices normally added into a korma paste. According to Bree, this biriyani is typically served with this fried chicken, which is coated with a spicy sauce but I felt with  Biriyani which already had enough chicken and flavors I won't make  an extra chicken.

But the biriyani was divine! Probably the best biriyani dish I have made so far. I always end up burning the bottom layer or mucking it up somewhere. 

In this biriyani recipe, the garnish ingredients are cooked in loads of oil. The original recipe used butter but  I stuck to ghee and oil. I love using ghee in biriyani.  The garnish is cooked until the onions are caramelized and then sprinkled on top of the finished layered rice. 

I heated the leftover ghee/ oil in the frying pan and drizzled this on top of the biriyani before placing it back on the stove for the final cooking. 

The curry part I cooked until it was reduced and then unlike most biriyanis where the rice is over the curry, here half the rice is mixed into the curry. 

Reduce the gravy until just a little liquid remains

Mix gently, you don't want to mash the rice. Then covered with more rice and then the garnish and drizzled with flavored oil and rose water. I covered the lid with a clean kitchen towel and wrapped it around the lid and placed it in the pot. 

Then slow cooked it to warm it up and flavor the whole dish.  I learned this technique of wrapping the lid with a tea towel when making the Afghani Pulau. After about 30 minutes, switch off let, it rest for 10 minutes, and then fluff it well to mix everything. ( well maybe after your guests have finished admiring your masterpiece)


Goes well with a simple raita and papadams.

Yield: 6-8
Author: Nammi

Chicken Biriyani

Prep time: 1 hour  cook time: 1-hour total time: 2 hr


Chicken Curry for the biriyani
  • 1 kg chicken, skinned and cut into pieces. 
  • 350g potatoes, cut into large pieces and cubed
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic, 
  • 1" ginger
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves( about 16 leaves)
  • 12-inch pandan leaf, cut into large pieces
  • 1 lemongrass ( white part only, bruised and kept whole)
  • 125g tomato, chopped
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 3 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp (heaped) plain yogurt ( leave it out if it is not available)
  • 1 ( 1 1/2 inch stick) cinnamon
  • 6-8 cardamon pods, ends snipped
  • 3 cloves
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/4 cup oil or ghee
  • 3 cups, basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 1 large onion
  • big handful cashew nuts 
  • a big handful of raisins
  • 3 green chillies, slit in half length wise
  • 1 sprig ( 10 leaves) curry leaves
  • 6 inch piece pandan leaf, cut into large pieces
  • 1/2 inch ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • small piece of cinnamon
  • mint leaves
  • pinch of salt
  • Rosewater ( 1-2 tbsp)
  • 5 hard-boiled eggs, halved


Chicken Curry for Biriyani
  1. Season the chicken pieces with a tiny bit of salt. 
  2. Place the ginger and garlic in a wet spice grinder and grind to a paste with a little water. 
  3. Mix all the ground spices used into the yogurt in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Puree the fresh tomatoes in a blender. 
  5. Heat the oil or ghee in a large pot. The pot should be large enough to cook the whole biriyani, not just the curry. 
  6. Once the oil starts to heat up add the onions, curry leaves, pandan leaf, lemongrass, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Stir fry till the onions wilt and start to colour.  
  7. Lower the heat and add the ginger and garlic paste, stir fry for a minute and then add the pureed tomatoes and tomato paste. 
  8. Stir fry the mixture and add the prepared yogurt mixture with the spices and 1 level tsp of salt. Stir fry for a minute. 
  9. Add the chicken pieces and mix to coat the chicken with the spice sauce and then add half a cup of water. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and let it cook for about 30 minutes. 
  10. Remove the lid, taste and adjust salt. Cook a further 15 minutes to reduce the sauce ( see above picture). Switch off.
  11. Set aside, while the rice is cooked. 
  1. While the chicken curry cooks, prepare the rice. 
  2. Wash the rice until the water runs clear, and soak the rice for 15minutes. 
  3. While the rice is soaking, bring a large pot of water  ( about 6 cups). Add 2 teaspoons of salt, and turmeric. Once it starts to boil add the rice ( which has been soaking for 15 minutes.)
  4. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes.  The rice should be almost cooked. Drain into a colander and stir another 1/2 tsp of salt into the drained rice. 
  5. Set aside.
  1. Heat ghee and once it melts, add the cashews and stir until they turn golden.  Remove and add the raisins and once they puff up, remove. 
  2. Then add the onions,  pandan leaf, curry leaves, chillies and cinnamon stick and stir fry till the onions are golden. Stir in garlic and ginger and stir fry for a minute. Then add return the cashews and raisins into the mixture and stir and remove everything onto a kitchen paper. Don't wash the pan yet and leave it with the flavored ghee. 
Finishing the Biriyani
  1. Once all the elements are done it's time to finish the biriyani. 
  2. Add half the rice into the chicken curry and gently stir it in. 
  3. Top with the remaining rice spread it out in a layer on top. 
  4. Spread the garnish on top along with mint. 
  5. Sprinkle 1-2 tbsp of rose water on top. 
  6. Layer the boiled egg halves around the top.
  7. Then heat up the ghee that you used to fry the garnish.  Drizzle this on top of the biriyani layer. 
  8. Wrap a clean kitchen towel on the lid of the pot, and place it on top of the pot, making sure you don't have loose ends of the towel touching the stove ( don't want a fire episode in the house). 
  9. Turn on the stove and bring the heat down to the lowest setting. Place the biriyani pot over it and cook for 20 minutes. 
  10. Switch off the heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes before serving. Mix it well before serving so all the flavours combine well.
Did you make this recipe?
Tag @chilliesandlime on instagram and hashtag it #chilliesandlimeblog
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. The rice is perfectly fluffy and the curry flavourful. A perfect meal, Nammi.

  2. I love a good biriyani! Chicken is my favorite. Haven't made one in a long time -- it's one of those things I tend to order in restaurants -- but I need to make one again. This one, specifically -- what a wonderful recipe! Thanks so much.

  3. lots of flavours looks delicious, I can almost smell the aroma :)


Thank you for checking out my posts, please leave a comment or two....