Layered Chicken Biryani Rice

One of my favourite foods is biryani rice. I have never attempted to make it at home until now. A couple lessons I will take away from this is to start earlier and have a ready supply of kashmiri chilli. A chilli with moderate spice levels while adding a vibrant red colour to a dish. Many of the ingredients can be found in a well stocked grocer or from an Indian grocer.

This recipe is in parts as there are a few things to prepare for the dish to come together.

Saffron Milk

  • 2 tbsp hot milk
  • A pinch of saffron


  1. Soak the saffron in milk. Set to one side.

Biryani Rice
Let me preface this by saying I normally don’t measure rice or the water I add to cook with measuring cups. However I also know how frustrating it is when things go into the land of approximation in a dish I’m not confident with experimenting. So I measured my scoops in cups and the amount of water added until it met the first line of my finger.


  • 2 cups of a good quality biryani rice (Look for the words aged or aromatic in labelling)
  • 3 cups of water
  • ½ tsp salt


  1. Wash the biryani rice until the water runs clear. This won’t take long as this rice has much less surface starch than most other rice grains.
  2. After draining the water from the final wash, add a quantity of fresh water to the rice to soak for 30 minutes. I usually add enough water so that there is about 3-5cm above the rice.
  3. Measure 3 cups of water into a separate bowl and add the salt to it. Set aside.

Chicken Marinade

  • 1kg chicken thighs
  • 3 tbsp Indian yoghurt or a plain thick unsweetened yoghurt will suffice
  • 1¼ tbsp of ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder (if you want more red colour, add more or in my case when I made this, I found I was running very low.)
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Mix the ingredients of the marinade together in a glass bowl.
  2. Cut the chicken thighs into bitesize pieces.
  3. Add the chicken to the marinade and coat the meat well with the marinade. I let it sit for about an hour in the fridge before it was cooked. Next time, I’m going to leave it overnight. This marinade was wonderful after an hour resulting in tender chicken bursting with flavour. A worthy contender to leave overnight to do its magic.

Cooking the Chicken

  • 1 strand of mace
  • 2-3 small bay leaves
  • 4 green cardamon pods
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • ¾ tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 5 thinly sliced shallots or 1 thinly sliced onion
  • ¼ cup Indian yoghurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 slit long chilli
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint


  1. Add the mace, bay leaves, cardamon pods, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and caraway seeds to a heavy bottom pan and gently warm the spices.
  2. Once the spices are warmed, add ghee and further roast the spices as the ghee melts
  3. Add the shallots and fry on a medium heat until they are softened and just beginning to brown.
  4. Add the marinated chicken to the pan and saute until the pieces are sealed.
  5. Turn down the heat to low and cover allowing for around 20 minutes for the chicken to cook.
  6. Once the chicken is cooked, add the yoghurt, garam masala, Kashmiri chilli powder, chilli, chopped mint to the pan and mix everything well.

Layering the Rice

  • 2 tbsp mint leaves
  • fried shallots


I used my rice cooker to layer everything in.

  1. Spread the chicken into an even layer at the base of the rice cooker bowl

2. Drain the biryani rice of water and layer on top of the chicken.

3. Add the saffron milk including the saffron threads.

I had to show some evidence I use the finger method to measure my rice to water ratio.

3. Add the water that had been set aside while the biryani rice was soaking gradually to the rice cooker so the layer of chicken and rice aren’t disturbed.

4. I added mint leaves and sprinkled fried shallots to the surface of the water

Look at those individual fluffy grains

5. I set the rice cooker to cook and left it to do its magic.

Serve, (I added a garnish of coriander leaves, fried shallots, and a dollop of Indian yoghurt) and eat. 😊

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