5 Tips {and a recipe} for a great Chicken Biryani!

Let me issue a disclaimer… I am not a food blogger or food photographer and I have ZERO aspirations to be one! This post is written by your mom-of-too-many…..with no food photography skills, who is trying to wing it. Okay, so I do love cooking and at one stage I had a horrific recipe book hoarding problem…. However, a few years ago, my mom moved in with us, so I do minimal cooking these days….as it’s just easier for her to cook, time wise…and she loves cooking. So the only time I really cook these days is when everybody wants biryani/breyani (potato/pot-ar-to). I have a friend who asks me to make her a pot of biryani as her birthday present…literally, it’s all she wants permanently from me. (I promise after lockdown D…. you’ll get your biryani!) With the requests I get from friends and family, apparently, I make a decent biryani 😉

Every time I post on Instagram that I’m making biryani, I get tons of DM’s asking for a recipe! So this is a highly requested post! Not beauty, parenting or book related! Go figure…lol. I have no idea how to write a recipe blog post, but it’s soooo long, that I knew an Instagram post was not going to cut it unfortunately. So friends….family…no more excuses….you can do it yourself now!!

5 Tips before we start

  1. Marinate your chicken/meat overnight if possible. A longer marinating time just adds so much more to the flavour. If you can only manage half an hour to an hour….that’s fine too, but overnight is preferable.
  2. I don’t use any water in the actual biryani chicken/meat cooking, only buttermilk. Remember you need enough liquid to coat the rice and lentils at the end of it.
  3. More is more in terms of seasoning and salting. You need the seasoning to make the dish come together.
  4. You can make a mild biryani and a spicy dhai if you want to give people options.
  5. Play around with the spices. I LOVE Jeera powder and fresh coriander, so I’m always more heavy handed, though I am more conservative in this ‘recipe’.


There are a lot of separate components and prep work, so make sure to plan your time w.r.t stove space, etc. Don’t let the number of ingredients intimidate you. Once you do this once, it’ll be easy peasy! I’m working on about 6-8 servings with this ‘recipe’.

Part 1

Marinating chicken/meat


  • 1kg chicken pieces
  • 125ml Buttermilk
  • 2tbsp Biryani Masala (or any preferred masala)
  • 1tsp Garam Masala
  • 1tsp Jeera powder
  • 1tbsp crushed Ginger and Garlic
  • Generous pinch of salt


  1. Mix all the marinating ingredients and coat the chicken.
  2. Cover and set aside.

Part 2

Boil all the things

  • Boil 2-3 cups of rice (white, basmati, your preference) with a level tsp of turmeric and salt to taste.
  • Boil 2-4 eggs
  • Boil 1 cup of lentils, with salt to taste.Biryani recipe

Part 3

Starting the Biryani


  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped. 
  • 1tsp crushed ginger and garlic (optional, as we’ve added to marinade mixture)
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp Biryani seed mix (star anise, cardamom, cloves, cumin seeds), finely ground in mortar and pestle
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 2 – 3Tbsp Biryani masala (I use any masala I have in the house, as well as biryani masala)
  • 1Tbsp Jeera powder
  • 1tsp Dhania powder
  • Salt for seasoning
  • Marinated chicken
  • Oil
  • 125ml Buttermilk


  1. Saute the onions and garlic & ginger on a medium heat in the oil for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add your ground seed mix, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks and saute for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Next, add masala and saute for about 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken and saute for 5-10 minutes on a low-medium heat.
  5. Ensure pot is not getting dry or burnt. Add the buttermilk and salt and cook until chicken is cooked through. I usually do this on a low heat (4/9) for about an hour, with a lid on the pot. If using meat, adjust the cooking time.

Part 4



  • Leftover Buttermilk (around 200-250mls)
  • 1-2 Green chillies
  • 1 tsp Jeera powder
  • A pinch of sugar
  • A generous pinch of salt
  • Bunch of fresh coriander


  1. Blend all ingredients together in a blender or with a stick blender. Set aside.

Part 5

The other bits and bobs


  • 4 Potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (or any size you prefer)
  • Oil for frying
  • Fresh coriander
  • 100gms butter, cut into cubes/slices


  1. Fry potatoes while chicken is cooking.


  1. Spoon a layer of rice over the chicken, followed by a layer of lentils.
  2. Add a sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander.
  3. Repeat with remaining rice and lentils until done.
  4. Mix the chicken, rice and lentil mixture through until rice is coated with biryani mixture.
  5. Top with fried potatoes and quartered or halved boiled eggs.
  6. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and some salt to season potatoes and eggs.
  7. Top with butter pieces.
  8. Close pot and allow butter to melt on low heat for about 15 minutes.

Serve with the dhai made in part 4.

There are many variations of biryani….this is the version we made in our house when I was growing up, and it’s the version I continue to make. You can use ghee to cook your biryani in, instead of oil…use more butter in the final step….or less. Once you have a base concept, play around…add chillies, chilli powder, different masalas, etc. Biryani is not an exact science, and we can all come up with our own version that we enjoy!

If you try this, please let me know how it turned out!

Disclaimer: Some pics taken from Pixels. I will replace my own horrific photos in the future when I improve my photography skills!

Biryani recipe

I’m Simone, a mom of 3, a wife...obsessed with my family, makeup and books!


  • Zayne Khan

    Surprisingly many who either don’t like to or think they don’t know anything about food or cooking…always have one dish up their sleeves that is a total wow factor!!

  • Zee

    I’ve never tried buttermilk, I should try it, we usually use plain yoghurt, esp for the dhai…If you ever get Ghee, use that instead of butter….ddeeeellliicious

  • Venean

    I made quite a number of substitutions based on what I had at home and we are vegetarian… I cannot even believe how well it came out… I am soooo impressed. Thank you for this fantastic easily adaptable recipe. <3 I cannot wait for hubby to try it!

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