This is a detailed recipe of authentic Pakistani Chicken Biryani that is very delicious and easy to make. No you don't need tons of difficult to find spices or and ready-made masala. This is chicken dum biryani that fill your house with tempting biryani aroma.
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.
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 picnics 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 good. 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. You can also substitute ground spices for whole ones.
- If your biryani rice is very hard when you assemble, you can sprinkle 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 less water in color.
- A little common sense and a bit of experience will make you pro biryani cook. Good Luck and if you are new to biryani making, check this post where I reveal my best biryani secret tips.
How to make Chicken Biryani?
I've gone crazy providing details of each step in this recipe. Please bear with me! Because this recipe is also made by non-desi people and I'm writing post assuming them. Desi people can consume this recipe through pictorials.
Ingredients to Marinate Chicken:
Below, you'll find the illustration of the ingredients of chicken marination. Most of the spices are common. If you can't find anything like bay leaf, you can skip it. Three ingredients that I didn't use but are often added to Pakistani biryani are mace, nutmeg, and black cumin. All three spices add to the aroma of biryani and use very little of each if you do.
Put all the above ingredients of chicken marination in a bowl.
- Mix well and let it sit for 20 minutes or preferably overnight. (Protips: This step makes chicken soft and juicy.)
- Fry onions on medium heat until golden, stir frequqently toward end for even cooking. When sliced onions begin to turn golden, you'll be able to see strands of onions seperate visible from each other. This steps need some patience but it's totally worth it. ( Protip: You can also use 1 packed cup of pre-fried onions.)
- Add the marinated chicken and stir fry for 7-10 minutes until the color of chicken changes completely and the moisture from yogurt dries out. You see little oil seperating on the sides of the pot. (Protip: This allow the spices in marinated chicken to release flavors.)
- Add tomato puree, mix well and cover the pot. Cook further for 10-15 minutes on medium flame until water dries and oil separates. (Bhunofy) This step is important.
We need to do rice and chicken steps simultaneously while the chicken marinates and onions are turning golden.
- Have a look at the ingredient of rice. Some whole spice are repeated again because we need the rice to be aromatic and full flavors on their own.
- Wash rice and soak in water for 20 minutes or as suggested on the pack. (Protip: 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 basmati rice here as basmati unlike other rice absorbs flavors.)
- Boil water with all spices and salt. The water must have soupy salt level or rice will be bland. When the water color changes as the spices release flavors in the water, add soaked rice. Cook until 70% is cooked. (2 kaani chawal). (Protip: 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.) Stay around the rice while boiling and check frequently. You can test rice grain by pressing between index finger and thumb. The rice should be firm and cooked, not at all mushy.
- Transfer the boiling rice to a colander to drain hot water. 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.
- You can skip potatoes if you wish. Half boiled peeled potatoes with salt and tumeric. (Protip: Tumeric gives a vibrant color. You can use yellow or orange food color too.)
- Then fry potatoes in oil with a pinch of salt until golden. Save the oil for later use in layering. (Protip: You may fully boiled potato and skip frying.) Set the potato aside.
- Now let get back to the chicken gravy. Have a look at the gravy now. The chicken is tender and oil is visible on the top. Mix in prunes and switch off heat.
- Also add cooked potatoes. At this stage, add gram masala powder for strong aroma. Gravy for biryani is ready. (Protip: 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.) Do a taste test. We want gravy to spicier than you'll like. As after mixing with rice, spices will be slightly undermined.
We are getting to our favourite part. You can do all above steps a day ahead. Except any rice steps which needs to done on the same day of serving for fresh dum chicken biryani taste.
- Smear 2 tablespoon oil (from fried potato) on the bottom of the heavy-based pot for crunchy khurchan. Divide rice roughly into two parts. Spread a little more than ½ of total rice at the bottom of the pot.
- Now, evenly divide and layer the chicken pieces, potatoes, and gravy into second layer.
- Now spread the herbs and chillies (optional) on the chicken.
- Spread the last layer of remaining rice. On this layer, add kewra essence, saffron and/or food color soaked in ½ cup water. Make sure to spread evenly. Then drizzle 4-6 tablespoons of oil all over the last layer of rice.
- You may add fried onions on top. (Protip: Fry a small onion in leftover potato oil and use same fragrant oil to drizzle on last layer of rice in step 4.)
- Seal the pot with foil, ( or use damp towel or thick cloth and tie all four ends 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.
- Heat the pot on high for 5 to 7 minutes until pot is hot. ( Protip: Test by spraying a little water on the side of pot, if water evaporates immediately with sizzling sounds. The pot is hot enough. ) Now reduce heat low-medium and let the steam rise inside the pot. This should take 15 minutes. When you see a thick steam after removing lid, it means biryani has reached dum stage, if not continue to cook.
- Serve Pakistani Chicken Biryani right after dum with salads and chutney.
If you find my protips and explanation helpful. I'd love to know in the comments.
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.
Tried any recipes? I'd LOVE to hear about it in the comments. Your 5-star ratings and comments motivate me to do my best.
Pakistani Chicken Biryani, Best ever TASTE!
To Marinate Chicken
- 1 (750 gram) chicken, cut in 12 pieces
- 1 cup yogurt
spices for chicken marination
- 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
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 5 cloves
- 2 black cardamom
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt , or to taste
- ½ cup Oil
- 4 (500 grams) onion, thinly sliced (or 1 cup fried onions packed)
- 4-5 to (500 grams) tomatoes, raw pureed
- 6-8 prunes*
- 5 (400 grams) potatoes, cut in large chunk, optional
- 1-2 teaspoon chat masala, (add only if you like spicy food)
- 4 cup (700 grams) basmati rice, soaked in water for 10 minutes
- Water, to boil rice
spices for rice
- 2 inch cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 whole bay leaf
- 6 black pepper
- 3-4 cloves
- 4 teaspoon salt, or as required
- 4 tablespoon oil, divided
- 1 fistful coriander leaves, chopped
- 1 fistful mint leaves, chopped
- 5 medium green chillies, optional
- A pinch Saffron, soaked (or kewra essence)
- A pinch yellow or orange color
- ½ cup water for dum
- In a bowl, marinate chicken with spices for chicken and yogurt and let it sit for 20 minutes.
- Heat oil in a pot and fry sliced onions until crispy golden. Mix in the marinated chicken.
- Cook marinated chicken for 7 minutes until color changes and oil separate on the side of the pot.
- 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. Set aside.
- Half boil peeled potatoes with and turmeric. Then fry potatoes with a pinch of salt until golden brown, transfer potatoes to a paper towel, and set aside.
- Now, potatoes and prunes in the chicken gravy. Chicken gravy should be of thick and flowing consistency and not dry.Protip: Add little water to the gravy if it is too dry.
- Do the steps for rice simultaneously with the steps of chicken. In a large pot for biryani take water, spices for rice, and salt. Bring water to a boil. Mix well so spices release flavors.
- When the color of water changes then add soaked rice. Cook rice until 70% cooked then drain all water and keep rice in a strainer until required. (Mix little oil in rice to avoid sticking.) Protip: Stay around the pot when rice is boiling and keep checking the grain of rice for doneness at intervals. The rice will appear cooked but firm and not at all mushy upon pressing between finger and thumb.
- In the rice pot smear 2 tablespoons of oil in the bottom.
- Spread a little more than ½ of the rice in the bottom then add a layer of chicken gravy. Dividing chicken pieces and potato chunks evenly in the pot.
- Now sprinkle herbs, chat masala, and chilies on the chicken layer.
- Finally, add a layer of remaining rice. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil on top of the rice layer.
- Mix food 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. Place a heavy lid too. Heat the pot on high heat for 5-7 minutes. Then reduce heat to low and dum for 15-20 minutes until rice is fully cooked and steam rises to the top when the 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.