Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Spicy Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani is an aromatic Indian rice and Chicken Casserole.


Spicy Chicken Biryani is a very flavorful and aromatic rice and chicken dish that feeds a crowd in style.  My bother and sister love to entertain with a large tray of chicken biryani for parties, but they always seem to have the food catered from an Indian or Pakistani restaurant.   The large tray can run up to $100 dollars and I just can't reasonably think to pay that much for some aromatic rice and chicken.

I set out to come up with a recipe to make chicken biryani at home when my son, who loves chicken biryani, requested it for his last birthday.  I researched on-line and realized it's was not all that complicated to make at home.  I bought a good quality biryani rice and some boneless/skinless chicken breast.  Most traditional chicken biryani dishes are served with the meat still on the bone and it does become cumbersome to eat it at a party when you are using utensils.    My kids and husband prefer boneless chicken breast so I happily substituted it in the dish.

The dishes actually comes together in less than 30 minutes of cooking time and about 30-40 minutes of baking time.  The longest part of making my biryani is the marinating of the chicken.  I recommend marinating it for at least 24 hours.  I actually let it marinate for 48 hours.  Once you have taken the time to marinate the chicken the rest of the process is quick and easy.  If you can layer a lasagna you can layer a biryani.

I did take some help from the store and bought a small box of biryani mix.  There are several varieties and I have used a few different brands and they all amount to the same result.  I love these mixes because they provide some of the essential and sometimes hard to get seasoning and aromatics needed for the dish.   The box only costs me 99cents in the Indian store and it would cost me much more to actually buy all those spices and seeds individually.   You can say frugal is my middle name. Ha! ha!

My mother gave me some biryani powder from Sri Lanka that colors the top of the biryani (red, yellow and orange)  This is totally an optional step to make the dish extra beautiful when you present it.  You can find this powder at Indian grocers or on-line.

I served the biryani with some beef curry, boiled eggs, papadums and a creamy onion salad. My family loved it and I loved that it cost me only a fraction of what the restaurants would charge me.

Spicy Chicken Biryani
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer


The Chicken
2 1/2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken bread cut into large cubes
2 Tbs garam masala powder
1 Tbs red chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder 
2 Tbs grated ginger
3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic
salt and black pepper to season chicken well
2 cups buttermilk 

The Rice
3 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
2 dry bay leaves
3-4 cardamom pods
3-4 cloves
2 star anise
1 stick (2 inches) cinnamon stick
1 Tbs chicken bullion powder
5-6 cups cold water

The Biryani Curry
1 stick margarine
2 medium onions finely chopped
12-20 curry leaves
2-3 pandan leaves
2-3 jalapeno peppers (pulverized in food processor)
small handful fresh mint leaves  (pulverized in food processor)
red chili flakes (to taste)
marinated chicken and marinate
1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
1 package Biryani powder
salt and black pepper to taste (if needed) 
1 cup water


24 hours before -Marinate Chicken:  
Cut chicken into large cubes and marinate in all the ingredients listed above under chicken.  I placed all the chicken in a large ziploc bag and added all the spices and buttermilk into the bag.  Then set it inside a bowl and allowed it to fully marinate for 1-2 days.  

Cooking the Biryani Rice and Curry:
Wash rice well until water runs clear. Into a large pot add rice, cold water, bay leaves, star anise, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick and bullion powder.  Place on medium heat and cook until rice is 3/4 of the way cooked.  If necessary drain any extra water out.  My rice absorbed all the water.  Turn stove off and set rice aside until later.
In another pot, heat on high heat.  Add stick of margarine, chopped onions, curry leaves, pandan leaves and pulverized jalapeno peppers and mint leaves.  Season with some salt.  Cook for 5-6 minutes until onions start to turn golden brown. 

Then add the marinated chicken and the marinate liquid. Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Next add the package of biryani powder and can of diced tomatoes.


Add the water and cook for 15-20 minutes on medium high heat.  Stir occasionally and taste for seasoning and flavor.  Once curry is cooked, turn off and prepare to assemble the biryani to bake.  

Assembly ingredients:

Part1:  Partially cooked rice

Part 2: Biryani curry

Layering Process: 
Layer 1: In a large casserole dish place some of the curry gravy on the bottom.  

Layer 2:  Place more than 1/3 of the partially cooked riced in a layer.

Layer 3: Place half of the chicken and 1/3 of the gravy over the layer of rice.  

Layer 4:  Layer of rice. *Use the same amount of rice as the first layer.

Layer 5:  Layer rest of chicken pieces and 1/3 of the gravy.
Layer 6:  Final 1/3 of rice. (this layer can be a little less than the other two layers of rice. 

Layer 7: Spoon remaining curry gravy over top layer of rice. 

Optional:  Sprinkle with biryani coloring powder.

Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.  Before you serve biryani, mix all of the rice and chicken well and put into serving dish.   Serve with any curries you wish, salad, raita, boiled eggs etc.. 

Note:  Remember when you eat curry or biryani, the cardamom pods, cloves, curry leaves, pandan leaves are meant to be removed as you eat.  They are only there to enhance the flavors of the dish and are not meant to be eaten.  Eating them does no harm, but the flavors are very strong and not pleasant on their own. 

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