Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Chicken Biryani With Raitha

Biryani is a favorite dish of this region and it won't be wrong if I'd say, that it's the national dish of Pakistan! You'd find different types of 'Chicken Biryani' just in one town alone so imagine, what diversity this delicious dish holds in itself that you would find a different flavor, look and recipe of Biryani if you travel from one corner to the other of the same city! This dish of cooked meat and rice layered and simmered together was known as a meal of royals as it is a Mughali dish and was made for the kings but as the time passed on, it became a common man's food too. It is served at weddings and special occasions and religious festivities for its extravagance yet, for it being a complete meal, is prepared specially for the weekend dinner as well as during the weekdays. There are different types of Biryani that are prepared in every household and includes not just the different kinds of Chicken Biryani but Biryani made with lamb/mutton/beef, fish, mix vegetables, chickpeas/garbanzo beans as well that I shall share the recipes of all in my future posts, In Sha Allah (God Willing)
Growing up, I remember that Chicken Biryani was one of the family favorite meals prepared by my mother over the weekends but sometimes she even used to surprise us by making it for lunch during the weekdays. I remember feeling so happy after coming back home from school and discovering that we're having Chicken Biryani for dinner :D Oh, the little joys of life! Whenever we had Biryani on a weekend, for dessert it was always the classic Trifle that later I started helping my mother to prepare. I will share the recipe of that Trifle in my next post, In Sha Allah (God willing).
Raitha- a yogurt and vegetables dip is a must with Biryani as it's cooling characteristics really pairs well with the spiciness of this dish and enhances it's flavors too. It is something that we have a special taste preference for at my home so, I thought to share the recipe of it too along with this Biryani I'm sharing with you today. This meal i.e Biryani, Raitha and then Trifle for dessert is still continued to be prepared at ours and we all happily enjoy it with big smiles on our faces :D My Dad is not fond of chicken but likes Chicken Biryani for its delicious combinations of flavors and aromas. We sometimes pair Shaami Kebabs (lentils and meat kebabs) with Biryani to make it a perfect meal :)

The first Biryani I ever cooked was by using a spice mix available in the stores. My parents were out of country a couple of years back and we siblings were feeling quite low and sad missing them esp, our Mom and her presence. She had already cooked some meals for us and stored them in the freezer and the only thing we had to do was to reheat it after coming back from school but over one weekend, we terribly craved for Chicken Biryani and I decided to make it by using the mix as for the time zone difference, I couldn't ask my Mom the recipe of her special Chicken Biryani. The instructions were already printed on the Masala pack and by following them, I managed to make an acceptable yet palatable version of Chicken Biryani the recipe of which also called for adding some potatoes in it. I then regularly carried on with making Biryani by using the Masala (spice mix) pack even after my mother arrived back but as I got hold of the entire procedure of the Biryani making, I started adding the spices myself instead of using the pack. I modified the recipe too and totally made it my own which is entirely different from both my mom's and the classic way or the one I learnt by using the pack. I like to do things quickly and and try to make the procedures easy too. Time consuming recipes do not fancy me and the time constraints I face, doesn't leave me with the patience to stand in the kitchen for long and to go through the tedious methods of cooking classic dishes. The recipe of Biryani that I'm going to share with you is quite lengthy and uses loads of ingredients but believe me, its all worth it and much quicker than the regular recipe! It's my very own yet has all the flavors spices and aroma of the classic Chicken Biryani :)

Let's get some Biryani love Unleashed today, shall we? :D 

Chicken Biryani with Raitha


For Chicken Masala

Chicken: 1 kg/2.20 lbs (skinless and cut into 12 pieces)
Yogurt: 2 1/2 cups
Onions: 5 medium sized (thinly sliced)
Tomatoes: 4 medium sized (chopped)
Ginger & Garlic Paste: 2 tbsp.
Green Chillies: 2 (finely chopped)
Salt: 2 tbsp.
Red Chili Powder: 1 tsp.
Turmeric Powder: 1/2 tsp.
Coriander Powder: 1 tsp.
Garam Masala Powder: 1/2 tsp.
Cumin Seeds: 1/2 tsp.
Cinnamon Stick: 1 
Black Peppercorns: 6
Cloves: 4
Nutmeg: 1/4 tsp. (freshly ground)
Mace: 1/4 tsp. (freshly ground)
Black Cardamom: 1 
Green Cardamom: 2
Star anise: 1
Dried Plums: 10-12
Potatoes: 3 medium sized (cut into thick wedges and soaked into some water with a pinch of Saffron yellow food coloring)
Fresh Coriander/Cilantro Leaves: 1/4 cup (chopped)
Fresh Mint Leave: 1/4 cup (chopped)
Oil: 1 cup

For the Rice

Basmati Rice: 4 cups (soaked in plenty of water for at least an hr before cooking) 
Cumin Seeds: 1/2 tsp.
Cinnamon Stick: 1
Black Peppercorns: 6
Cloves: 4
Black Cardamom: 1
Green Cardamom: 2
Star anise: 1
Green Chilli: 1
Fresh Mint Leaves: 1/4 cup
Oil: 2 tbsp.
Lemon: 1 small sized (cut into slices)
Salt: 1 tbsp.
Water: 8-10 cups (to boil the rice)

To go between the layers

Ginger: 1 inch piece (jullienned)
Tomato: 1 medium sized (cut into slices)
Green Chillies: 2 (jullienned)
Lemon: 1 small sized (cut into slices)
FreshCoriander/Cilantro Leaves: 1/2 cup (finely chopped)
Fresh Mint Leaves: 1/2 cup (finely chopped)
Yellow/Saffron Food Color: 1/4 tsp.
Kewra Water/Essence: 2 tbsp water/2,3 drops essence
Garam Masala Powder: 1 tsp.


  1. Put the chicken pieces in a large bowl and marinate it with the beaten yogurt, ginger and garlic paste, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, Garam Masala powder and all the other whole spices. Cover it with a cling wrap and let it marinate for an hour in the fridge.
  2. Heat the one cup of oil in a large, heavy based pot. Take out the potato pieces from the water, pat them dry with a kitchen towel and fry till they are cooked and are of pleasant yellowish golden color. Take them out on an absorbent paper and keep aside.
  3. Now fry the sliced onions in the same oil till they are golden. Take out half of them and spread on an absorbent paper.
  4. Put the marinated chicken in the remaining oil and the fried onions in the pot along with all of it's yogurt marinade and add the chopped tomatoes to it too. Cover with the lid and cook over medium flame till the chicken is cooked and onions, yogurt  and tomatoes forms a thick, sort of dry masala/gravy and oil is separated. Use water if the chicken is not cooked and cook till its done.
  5. Now add the chopped mint and cilantro/coriander leaves, dry plums, fried potatoes and sprinkle some more Garam Masala over the chicken gravy and mix everything together.
  6. Boil 8-10 cups of water with the whole spices listed under the rice ingredients along with the green chilli, mint leaves, salt, the lemon slices and oil.
  7. Once the water starts boiling, add the pre-soaked and drained rice into it and boil till they are half done. Drain out in a colander and keep aside but reserve 1/4 cup of water from the rice. 
  8. Grease a heavy based pot, preferably the same in which you boiled the rice, with some oil taken out from the chicken masala and pour the reserved water from the rice into the pot before adding the first layer of rice to it. This will prevent the rice from sticking at the base while the Biryani simmers.
  9. Spread one layer of rice in the bottom of the pot and top with the chicken gravy, some tomato slices, lemon slices, green chillies, mint and cilantro and some fried onions, repeat the layers (I normally make 5 layers; 3 layers of rice and 2 layers of chicken)
  10. On the final layer, drizzle some yellow food color dissolved into a little Kewra water or dissolve the food coloring into some plain water and add the essence to it and mix well before using.
  11. Sprinkle some Garam Masala on top and cover the lid with a damp tea towel and place it tightly on the pot. Place it over high flame for a min and then simmer for 20-25 mins. You can simply put the pot into a preheated oven (200 C/392 F/Gas Mark 6) instead for that final step but cover the lid with some aluminium foil instead of a damp tea towel. The pot should be oven proof otherwise you can spread the layers into a Pyrex/oven proof dish instead.
  12. Once done, mix with a light hand and fluff the rice. Take out into a serving platter, garnish with some crispy fried onions and serve with chilled, thick Raitha and Shaami Kebabs if you like. 
Serves 6-8



Thick Yogurt: 4 cups
Milk: 1/4 cup
Cucumber: 1 large sized (finely chopped or grated)
Onion: 1 medium sized  (finely chopped) 
Tomato: 1 medium sized (finely diced)
Green Chilli: 1 (finely chopped. Optional)
Fresh Mint Leaves: 1/4 cup (chopped)
Fresh Coriander/Cilantro Leave: 1/4 cup (chopped)
Salt: 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds: 1/2 tsp
Chaat Masala: 1/4 tsp (optional)


  1. Put yogurt along with the milk, salt and half of the cumin seeds into a medium mixing bowl and beat well with the help of a hand-held whisk.
  2. Add all the chopped vegetables to this beaten yogurt and mix well. Reserve some mint and coriander/cilantro leaves for garnishing.
  3. Take out into a serving bowl and sprinkle some Chaat Masala on top (if using) the cumin seeds and the remaining mint and coriander/cilantro leaves.
  4. Chill well before serving.
Serves 6-8

  1. All the whole spices, the Garam Masala and Chaat Masala and Basmati rice can be found easily at the ethnic stores.
  2. The marination can be done a day ahead and even the chicken can be cooked ahead for convenience and to save time.
  3. Leftover Biryani can be stored in an air-tight container and stays well up to 2,3 days if kept refrigerated. It can be frozen too up to a month. Just put in the fridge to thaw it completely before heating.  

Phew! That's all my dear readers! :) Seasonings/Spice level and the amount of the ingredients can always be adjusted according to your taste and desire. I hope you enjoy making and eating it. Until next time, keep sharing the goodness of this greatest blessing, that has been bestowed in abundance upon us the lucky ones, with the less fortunate ones.
Thank you and please remember in your Du'as/prayers! :)

*Not be duplicated, rewritten or published without permission- Thank you! 



  1. Beautiful recipe...that rice looks so fluffy and tender. Can't wait to give this a try.

    1. Thanks so much, Sandi! Please do and I hope you'd love it too :)

  2. Pure torture looking at this :( It looks delicious and I would love seconds please :)

    1. Aww, I can totally understand that and loved hearing that though! :D
      I always eat more than I should, whenever we have Biryani for dinner :D
      Jazak'Allah Khair for liking!

  3. The biryani looks absolutely scrumptious and theirs nothing like a homemade masala. It just enhances the taste 100 times more. Great recipe and would wait for the Trifle too :)

    1. Thanks so much, Molly! And agreed upon totally that the homemade masala is the best :)
      My next post is on Trifle and I hope you'd like it too :)