Indulge in the rich and authentic flavors of this Hyderabadi chicken biryani, which features perfectly cooked basmati rice and tender, juicy chicken that you just can't get enough of. This crowd-pleaser is perfect for parties and gatherings and is sure to wow your guests with its delicious taste.
My easy-to-follow recipe includes all the tips, tricks, and troubleshooting you need to make the most delicious and authentic chicken biryani.
Why you will love this chicken biryani recipe?
- Crowd-pleaser: This crowd-pleasing chicken biryani is both delicious and flavorful, making it the perfect dish for parties and gatherings.
- Detailed instructions: I am including step-by-step instructions that are clear and easy to follow to ensure you can replicate the Hyderabadi biryani at home successfully.
- Tips and tricks: Whether it is cooking the rice perfectly or mastering the layering technique, I have covered everything to make sure the biryani comes out perfectly.
Chicken: Use bone-in chicken pieces to make Hyderabadi chicken biryani. Thigh and leg pieces of chicken work best for this dish.
Rice: Use Basmati rice to make biryani.
Aromatics: I am using sliced onions, fresh ginger, and garlic cloves. Ginger garlic paste can be used instead of freshly grated ginge and garlic.
Spices: I use an array of whole and powdered spices. For heat in the biryani, I am using chili powder. If you like more heat in your biryani, add slit green chillies along with ginger and garlic.
Ghee: While ghee makes the best-tasting biryani, you can replace it with vegetable oil.
Optional ingredients: Sprinkle some kewra water (or kewra essence) and biryani masala powder, along with saffron water when you are assembling the biryani. Top the biryani with some lemon juice or lime juice just before serving.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
Step 1: Combine chicken and marinade ingredients - yogurt, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder, and garam masala powder. Mix well and let it marinate for 30 minutes (images 1 and 2).
Step 2: Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot and add whole spices - bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, black cardamom, star anise, and mace. Wash rice thoroughly and add it to the water. Let it cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes (until the rice is half done). Drain the water and cool the rice grains uncovered (images 3 and 4).
Step 3: Heat one tablespoon of ghee in a thick bottom pot or large cooking pot. Add a handful of sliced onions. Fry until the onion is crispy and golden brown on medium heat. Set aside (image 5).
Step 4: To the same pot, add one more tablespoon of ghee and let it heat. Add shah jeera (caraway seeds), bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and pepper. Saute for a few seconds (image 6). Add the remaining onion and fry until golden. Add ginger paste and garlic paste. Saute for 1-2 minutes (image 7).
Step 5: Add the marinated chicken pieces and mix well. Bring to a boil. Simmer on medium high heat (keeping covered) until the chicken is almost done (image 8).
Step 6: Start assembling the biryani. The chicken itself forms the first layer - make sure it is evenly spread in the pot. For the second layer, add half of the partially cooked rice to completely cover the chicken (image 9).
Step 7: For the next layer, add mint leaves, cilantro (coriander leaves), and fried onions (image 10). Lastly, add the remaining rice and spread it. Add saffron milk and one tablespoon of ghee for the top layer (image 11). You can divide the fried onions and sprinkle half of the fried onions on the second layer of the rice.
Step 8: Heat a tawa or griddle. Once it is hot enough, place the biryani pot on top of the tawa and reduce the flame to the lowest setting. Let the final dish sit on low flame for 30 minutes (image 12).
Use Basmati rice. It has a great aroma and the grain of rice does not stick to each other.
It is important to check the salt in boiling water as this is the only way you are adding salt to the rice. Before adding the soaked rice, check the saltiness of the water. It should be quite salty.
Always place the biryani pot on a tawa/griddle and then steam it on low heat. Placing the pot on a tawa will prevent the bottom layer of biryani from burning.
Seal the biryani pot before steaming. The lid for my pot sits tightly without any gap for the steam to escape. If the lid is not tight enough, cover the pot with aluminum foil and then close it.
Check out this recipe to make crispy fried onions without deep frying.
What to serve with chicken biryani?
Raita: Raita is a yogurt-based side dish that helps balance the spiciness of the biryani. It is made by whisking yogurt with finely chopped vegetables and herbs.
Salan: Salan is a spicy curry often served alongside biryani. It is made with a variety of vegetables or meat, such as mirchi ka salan (made with chili peppers), bagara baingan (made with eggplant), or chicken salan. These curries add an extra layer of flavor and moisture to the biryani.
While they are both rice-based dishes, the most important difference is in the assembly of the dish. In pulao, soaked rice is added along with vegetables/meat and cooked, while in biryani, the rice is parboiled first and then layered with a gravy/curry made with vegetables/meat.
The biryani will turn mushy if the rice is overcooked. This happens if you let the rice cook completely in the water. Always make sure that the rice is around 80% cooked. This way, it will be cooked perfectly when you steam it. Also, before cooking, wash the rice thoroughly till the water runs clear.
If you overcook the biryani rice, spread the rice on a wide tray immediately and let it sit uncovered. This way, it will cool quickly. Also, if your rice is fully cooked, reduce the steaming time to half.
If you undercook the rice, sprinkle 3-4 tablespoons of cold water during the steaming process.
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Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani
For the chicken:
- 2 lb chicken
- 1 cup yogurt
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 4 tablespoon ghee (use store-bought or homemade ghee)
- 2 large onions
- 2 inch ginger grated (or ginger paste)
- 5 cloves garlic grated (or garlic paste)
- 1 teaspoon black cumin seeds shah jeera
- 3 pieces cinnamon
- 5 green cardamom
- 5 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- ½-¾ teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
For the rice:
Marinate the chicken:
- Clean and cut the chicken into even pieces.
- To this, add yogurt, salt, turmeric powder, chili powder, and garam masala. Mix well and let it marinate for 30 minutes.
Make the rice:
- Wash the rice thoroughly in running water. Soak it for 30 minutes.
- While the rice is soaking, take water in a large pot and bring it to a boil.
- Add salt and whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, black cardamom, star anise, and mace).
- Drain all the water from the rice and add it to boiling water.
- Let it cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes until it is half done. Take care not to cook the rice completely.
- Drain the water and cool the rice uncovered.
Make the chicken curry:
- Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a heavy bottom pot. Add a handful of sliced onions.
- Fry it until the onion is crispy and golden. Set them aside.
- In the same pot, add 2 more tablespoons of ghee and let it heat.
- Add shah jeera, and whole spices (bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and pepper). Saute for a few seconds.
- Add the remaining onion and fry until golden. Add ginger and garlic. Saute for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the marinated chicken and mix well.
- Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the chicken is nearly done.
Assemble the biryani:
- Soak saffron strands in milk for 10 minutes.
- Once the chicken is almost done, turn off the heat. Spread it evenly in the bottom of the pot.
- Add half of the cooked rice to completely cover the chicken.
- Add mint leaves, cilantro, and fried onions.
- Spread the remaining rice on top.
- Add saffron milk and one tablespoon of ghee. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid making sure the sides are fully sealed.
- Heat a tawa or griddle. Once it is hot, place the biryani pot on top of the tawa and reduce the heat to the lowest setting.
- Let the biryani steam on very low heat for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat.
- Serve chicken biryani with raita or a side dish of your choice.