This is a detailed recipe for Pakistani Chicken Biryani and delicious too. But wait, if you are in any case looking for Pakistani or Karachi style degi Biryani that you had at a restaurant or on the street or in a wedding dinner; that is different. I will post a separate recipe for that.
Updated: 5th June 2020.
This is home-style, hearty biryani with delicious flavors full of herbs and aroma. I suggest, serve it hot right after dum (steaming) with raita and kachumber salad for best taste.
In Pakistani, especially Karachi, Biryani is often made on Fridays or on weekends; also in official dinners or weddings or picnic or whatever; biryani fits in all events. And, it’s always good, never boring.
People of Karachi can’t live without Biryani. Like, even if we are traveling somewhere in China or Far-east, we’ll find a Pakistani restaurant or maybe an Indian restaurant and eat Biryani. And, the satisfaction is heavenly.
Tips to make Pakistani Chicken Biryani:
- A good Biryani should have separate but fully cooked rice grains.
- Salt is most crucial in the flavor of every food make sure you use salt in all step marination, soaking rice, cooking rice, gravy, and frying potatoes. But that’s doesn’t mean you overdo.
- The oil, I used is least possible with authentic flavors but real biryani calls for even more oil. When traditionally mutton biryani is cooked fat pieces (riwaj) are also added for meaty flavors and greasy moisture.
- Searing or bhonofying, that means cooking on high flame till all water dries and oil clearly separates on sides of the pot. It is most crucial throughout Pakistani cuisine. If you Bhunofy it correctly, it will be finger-licking well. The only problem for bhonofying is you need to add a bit of extra oil.
- Whole spices like pepper, bay leaves, cardamom are for aroma only, they release their juices and flavors in rice. Do not bite them. Just put aside as you do with bones.
- Type of rice is important, use basmati rice or sella basmati rice. Brown rice is good for pulao, not Biryani.
Biryani: Troubleshooting tips
- If you don’t have one or two spices like bay leaves and black cardamom, it’s ok. You can skip them.
- If your biryani rice is very hard when you assemble, you can sprinkle add extra water on the last layer of rice to soften but remember the gravy also has some water.
- If your rice turns a bit softer, dry out your gravy a bit and add little water in color.
- A little common sense and a bit of experience will make you pro biryani cook. Good Luck and if new to biryani making check this where I reveal best biryani secret tips.
Step by step Pakistani Chicken Biryani recipe. (Homestyle)
Marinate with spices and just 4 tablespoons of yogurt. Mix well and let it sit for 20 minutes or preferably overnight. (This step makes chicken soft and juicy.)
Wash rice and soak in water for 20 minutes or as suggested on the pack. (This step is important as it allows the grain to expand at it best and also reduces the cooking time of rice with even cooking, Go for best quality rice here!
Boil water with all spices and salt. Mix well, add soaked rice. Cook until 70% is cooked. (2 kaani chawal). (Tip: The water should be aromatic. Once the water is fully boiled and has changed color you may remove big spices with a slotted spoon only if you hate whole spices.) Not recommended.
Put a little oil on rice so rice grains are well separated. Set aside.
Other Preps, while the chicken is marinating and the rice is cooking.
While rice cooks, fry your potatoes in oil with a pinch of salt. The potatoes should be fully cooked, insert a fork to check. (Tip: You can also boil the potatoes with a pinch of color and salt instead of frying. Some people fry potatoes after boiling.)
Fry onions in same oil until golden, cool the until on kitchen towel then crush it with hand or grinder. ( You can also use 1 packed cup of pre-fried onions in the recipe and skip this step.)
Mix onion also in the marinated chicken.
Remove extra oil from wok in which we fried potato and onions and leave only ½ cup oil. Fry marinated chicken in that oil for 10 minutes until oil separates.
In this photo, you can see the color of chicken is changed and a little oil has separated on the sides of the pan.
Now, add tomato puree, you may add sliced tomatoes if you like whole tomatoes in biryani.
After adding tomato puree, mix well and cook further for 10-15 minutes on high flame until water dries and oil separates. (Bhunofy) This step is important. After the oil has separated add remaining 3/4 cup yogurt in the chicken. Mix well.
Mix in all the remaining ingredients, herbs, fried potatoes, green chilies and prunes.
At this stage, add gram masala powder for strong aroma. Gravy for biryani is ready. (Most important tip. We want thick and runny gravy for biryani and not dry. It is the gravy that gets absorbed in rice and provides flavors. If incase gravy is dry add a little water and make it runny.)
Smear some 2 tablespoon oil on the bottom of the heavy-based pot for crunchy khurchan. Then divide rice roughly into three parts. Spread ⅓ rice at the bottom of the pot.
Now divide chicken gravy into two parts. Add 1/2 of it in this layer. (Evenly divide and layer the chicken pieces, potatoes, and gravy in this layer.)
Again add ⅓ layer of rice. (In this photo you can clearly see my rice just 70% cooked and separated.)
Add the second layer of remaining chicken gravy. (Divide the chicken and potatoes evenly.)
- Spread the last layer of ⅓ rice.
- On this layer, I add saffron soaked in ½ cup water. Make to spread evenly.
- Then drizzle 4-6 tablespoons of oil all over the last layer of rice.
- In Pakistani Biryani, Orange or yellow (zarda) color mixed with water and kewra or saffron essence is also added. Add that too for brightly colored rice.
- You may add chopped mint and fried onions on top.
(We avoid color and essence for we love only natural stuff with no colors and no artificial flavors until really necessary.)
Seal the pot with foil, ( damp towel or thick cloth, all four ends are tied over the lid.) Cover tightly with the lid. (This sealing technique of rice is called ‘dum dena’ in Urdu.) Dum helps the rice cook completely while absorbing the flavors of gravy and with drizzled oil. Serve hot with salads and chutney.
Hungry for Rice? Check these recipes!
- Singaporean Rice layered rice with fried garlic and chili toppings.
- Vegetable Biryani,
- Yakhni Pulao, rice cooked in meat broth.
- Bohri Biryani
- Keema Khichri, layered mince, and lentil biryani
- Barbecue Chicken and Rice Tikka chicken with rice and sauce.
Pakistani Chicken Biryani Recipe
Pakistani Chicken Biryani, Best ever TASTE!
- 4 cup (700 grams) basmati rice, soaked in water for 10 minutes
- 2 inch cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 6 black pepper
- 3-4 cloves
- Water, to boil rice
- 4 teaspoon salt, or as required
- 1 (750 gram) chicken, cut in 12 pieces
- 1 cup yogurt, divided
- 2 tablespoon green chilli paste
- 3 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 tablespoon red chilli powder, or 2 tablespoon Biryani masala
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ,roasted
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 inch cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ teaspoon Garam Masala Powder
- 5 cloves
- 2 black cardamom
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt , or to taste
- Oil , to fry
- 5 (400 grams) potatoes, cut in large chunks
- 4 (500 grams) onion, thinly sliced (or 1 cup fried onions packed)
- 4-5 to (500 grams) tomatoes, raw pureed
- ¾ cup yogurt, whipped
- 4 prunes*
- 1-2 teaspoon chat masala, (add only if you like spicy food)
- 1 fistful coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 fistful mint leaves, chopped
- 5 medium green chillies
- 4 tablespoon oil, divided
- a pinch Saffron, soaked (or kewra essence)
- A pinch yellow or orange color
- ½ cup water for dum
- Marinate chicken with spices and 4 tablespoon yogurt and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- In a large pot for biryani take water, bay leaf, cumin, black pepper and salt. Bring water to boil then add soaked rice. Mix well so spices release flavors. Cook rice until 70% cooked then drain all water and keep rice in strainer until required. (Mix little oil in rice to avoid sticking.)
- In a wok, fry potatoes with a pinch of salt until golden brown, transfer potatoes to paper towel and set aside.
- In same oil, fry sliced onions until crispy golden. Drain oil on a paper towel and spread on a single layer to crisp. Crush onion with hand or in a food processor and mix in marinated chicken.
- In same wok, leave only ½ cup oil and (remove extra oil ) cook marinated chicken for 7 minutes until color changes then add tomato puree and cook further for 10-15 until all tomato water dries and oil separates. Your chicken should be tender by now or cook further as needed. Sear chicken ( bhunofy) well for rich taste.
- Now add whipped yogurt,and bring gravy to a boil. Now, mix in chat masala (if using) potato, prunes, mint, coriander and green chilles, mix well. Chicken gravy is ready.
- In the large thick bottom rice pot smear 2 tablespoon oil in bottom.
- Make first layer of ⅓ rice in the bottom then add a layer of half of chicken gravy.
- Now make second layer of ⅓ rice and another layer of chicken gravy dividing chicken and potato evenly in each layer.
- Finally, add third layer of ⅓ rice. Add another 2 tablespoon of oil on top of rice.
- Mix orange color, saffron and water together. Spread evenly over the rice. ( You may also add kewra water along with saffron)
- Cover pot with foil to seal the steam. Cover with lid too. Keep the pot for dum for 15-20 minutes until rice are fully cooked and steam rises to the top when lid is removed.
- Mix rice with a large flat spoon or a small plate. (Do not over mix to break the rice grains.) And serve hot with raita and kachumber.