Chicken Biryani: simple and easy recipe for the best biryani

a platter of chicken biryani rice with two slices of lemon

Chicken biryani is a one-pot dish for celebration and indulgence. Packed with bursting flavour, this rice with chicken cooked in spicy masala is a must-have item for any occasion. 

Chicken biryani recipe

This chicken biryani recipe is quite simple and easy to make. It’s a recipe that I am now using after countless attempts to get the right balance of spices for chicken biryani.

Traditionally, there are many biryani recipes – both in Pakistan and India. And I have been lucky to try so many of them. And if you go to Asian shops, you can find endless choices of ready-made biryani spices that can help your cooking easier.

However, I find they are quite spicy as they have a high content of hot chilli powder. 

chicken biryani with overlay text

And if I tried to cut down the spices, the biryani flavour was not quite right. So, in the end, I tried to make my own spice mix. And after testing it for so many years, I am settled with this recipe. Because it is easy and quick to make, it offers a flavour that is very close to authentic

And I’m happy that every time I make this chicken biryani, it always goes down well among my family and friends. 

This easy chicken biryani recipe doesn’t use a lot of chilli powder. So, it’s mild enough for children or those who are not good with spicy food.

But if you prefer the spicy biryani rice, you can increase the chilli powder to your liking.

chicken biryani rice in an oval dish

When and how to enjoy chicken biryani

Traditionally biryani rice is enjoyed as a part of festive or celebration food such as Eid, weddings, family gatherings, etc. 

But now, people cook biryani rice whenever they feel like it. I personally cook chicken biryani almost once every two weeks. Because it really is an easy dish to make. It’s like a one-pot dish. Though you initially have to cook the rice and the chicken biryani masala separately.

Chicken biryani is a dish that has carbs and protein at the same time. So you’ll only need a vegetable salad or a simple vegetable side dish such as Aloo Palak to serve with it.

What you need to make it

There are 8 things you need to make this Pakistani chicken biryani. They are chicken, potatoes, onion, spices, tomatoes, yoghurt, rice and cooking oil.

However, when it comes to spices, there is more than one that you need. For this recipe, you will need ginger, garlic, cumin powder, ground coriander, turmeric powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, ground black pepper, green cardamoms, cloves, and whole black peppercorns, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. 

In the end, you will need 20 items in total. All because of the spices and herbs. But I promise it’s all worthed. 

Tips to choose your ingredients

  • So, when it comes to chicken, I prefer using boneless chicken thighs because it cooks faster and has more flavour. But you can always use chicken with bone cut into small pieces, or ground chicken ( chicken keema).
  • As for the potatoes, I suggest you choose waxy potatoes such as Charlotte potatoes, new potatoes, jersey royal, or baby potatoes. The reason is that they hold their shape well, do not break easily and do not go mushy. 
  • Now, for tomatoes, you can always use fresh ones. But, tinned chopped tomatoes are good as well. In fact, I often use canned tomatoes more often than not. Just because it’s more convenient and lasts longer to keep them at home rather than keeping the fresh ones. 
  • Please choose the flavourless natural yoghurt. And if possible, use natural yoghurt from Asian shops. Because it tastes tangier that enhances the flavour of the spices even better. 
  • Needless to say, Basmati rice is the best choice for this chicken biryani recipe. However, if it’s not available to you, the closest substitute option is long grain rice. 
  • You can choose any neutral cooking oil that you like. Vegetable oil/ rapeseed oil, or sunflower oil are the ones I mostly use. 

How to cook chicken biryani

So firstly, wash the rice and soak it in plenty of water.

Now, make the masala by frying the onion until lightly golden, then add all the spices, herbs and salt. 

When it gives an aroma, add the chicken in and fry at medium-high heat until the poultry turns opaque. And add in the tomatoes. Continue cooking for about 10 minutes as you mash the tomatoes every now and again. So you’ll get a smooth sauce.

Next, you add in the potatoes and leave it to cook with the lid on. Take care and keep checking every now and then.

At the same time, start boiling some water for the rice. When the water boils, drain the rice and cook it in the boiling water until it is half-done. 

When the chicken and potatoes are fully cooked with about 1-1 ½ cup of sauce, and the oil slightly separates from the sauce, add in the beaten yoghurt and quickly stir the chicken biryani masala. Let it cook further for a minute or two before you turn the heat off and get on with the rice.

As soon as you see the rice slightly plumped up but still looks quite opaque, and has a firm bite to it, take the rice off the heat. And drain the rice using a colander. Make sure you drain all the liquid from the rice.

Then place the rice over the biryani masala and spread it evenly.

 Line the inside lid with a tea towel and put the cover on. Cook it at medium-low heat. When the steam comes out of the lid, your chicken biryani is ready.

Top tips to make the best chicken biryani

chicken biryani rice garnished with coriander leaves and lemon slices
  • Good biryani rice holds its shape and has a firm texture and doesn’t go mushy when you spoon it. And to achieve this, you have to keep an eye on the boiling rice. Make sure the rice is not yet fully cooked by the time you mix it with the masala. 
  • So make sure you don’t overcook the rice. To know that the rice is ready to mix with the masala, its texture should be firm but not as hard as the raw rice and neither as soft as the cooked rice.
  • Cook the spice masala until the oil separates from the edges. This means there’s not too much liquid aka water in the masala. And break and mash the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon so you will get a smooth masala.
  • Don’t skip lining the pan cover with a tea towel. It’s good to stop the steam water drip on to the rice,

Other recipes that go well with biryani rice

I hope you like this chicken biryani rice recipe and will try it out. If you did, it would be great if you share what you think about it in the comments below so that others will benefit. Feel free to share the post with your loved ones and pin it on Pinterest.

Before you go, don’t forget to check out my other recipes that can go well with this rice biryani. 

Last but not least, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Pinterest. To sneak a peek at what’s cooking in my kitchen. 

Take care and all the best.

Yield: 6

Chicken biryani

a dish of chicken biryani

This chicken biryani recipe is quite simple and easy to make. It’s a recipe that I am now using after countless attempts to get the right balance of spices for chicken biryani.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 800 gr/ 28.22 oz boneless chicken, cut in small pieces.
  • 350 gr/ 12.3 oz new potatoes, cut in big cubes.
  • 250 gr/ 8.82 oz onions, chopped.
  • 1-inch ginger, finely grated/ minced.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced.
  • 2 tsp ground cumin.
  • 2 tsp ground coriander.
  • 1 ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper.
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder.
  • 1 ½ tsp salt.
  • 7 green cardamom.
  • 10 cloves.
  • 15 whole black peppercorns.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick.
  • 1 cup/ 240 ml/ 8.11 cooking oil.
  • 300 gr/ 10.14 oz tomatoes, chopped.
  • ½ cup/ 120 ml/ 4.06 fl.oz yoghurt, lightly beaten.
  • 500 gr/ 17.64 oz basmati rice, washed and soaked in water.
  • A handful of fresh coriander (optional).


  1. Wash and rinse the rice for about 3-4 times until the water looks clear. And soak the rice in clear water. Set aside.
  2. In a large cooking pot, heat the oil and fry the onions until lightly brown. 
  3. Add in the ginger and garlic, give it a stir and fry for a few minutes until it smells fragrant.
  4. Then put all the spices in. The cumin, coriander, chilli powder, paprika, black pepper, turmeric, salt, cardamoms, cloves, whole black peppercorns, cinnamon and bay leaves. Continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes until the spices give aroma.
  5. Put the chicken in and stir until all the pieces are covered with spices. Let it fry until the poultry turns opaque in colour.
  6. Then add the tomatoes in the chicken mixture and give it a good stir. Put the lid on and let it cook at low heat. Leave it to cook for about 20 minutes. Keep checking and stirring every now and again to make sure the chicken doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. 
  7. In the meantime, boil the water in the other pot. When it reaches boiling point, add in the rice and let it cook for about 7 minutes or until the rice is half cooked. 
  8. Add the potatoes in, stir well and continue cooking with the lid on for another 10 minutes then put the yoghurt in. Let it cook for about 5 minutes more.
  9. When the oil slightly separates from the sauce, and you have about 1-1 ½ cup of gravy left, turn the heat off.
  10. Using a colander, drain the half-cooked rice and pour it over the chicken biryani sauce. Spread it evenly to cover all the chicken masala (chicken curry sauce). Put the lid on. Then cook the biryani rice at low-medium heat until the steam comes out.


  • Chicken releases more water when it’s cooked. So you may have to cook the biryani sauce at medium-high heat to make sure the liquid evaporates quickly. But do take care and keep checking so that it won’t get too dry either.
  • Line the pot lid with a tea towel before you put it on the pot for steaming. It helps absorb the steam water so that it won’t drip or fall on to the rice. 

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 723Total Fat 32gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 24gCholesterol 126mgSodium 814mgCarbohydrates 59gFiber 7gSugar 12gProtein 51g

The nutrition calculation you find here is just a guide provided by online nutrition calculator. You should not use to substitute advice from nutritionists or health practitioners.

Did you try the recipe?

Share how you like the recipe in the comments below and show a picture of your creation


  1. Made it according to this recipe. Thought I’d mess it up. I didn’t, it was perfect and tasted as great as I hoped.

    My one worry was there was no indication how long the rice would take to steam with the tea towel over the pan. Turns out it’s about 15 min and quite apparent.

    Great recipe.

    1. Thank you, Ian. And thank you for pointing out the steaming time. I will update the recipe. Take care.

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