If you have never made Chicken Biryani before, I am genuinely jealous. After eating it, you will understand why it has been designated as the national dish of India.
Multiple layers of beautiful yogurt-marinated ginger & garlic chicken, aromatic spices, fresh herbs, crispy onions, and saffron combine to finish baking together in the oven.
This recipe involves a number of steps, akin to making a complicated lasagna. The finished product is unquestionably worth the effort, but it can take all day. minced finely
Chicken Biryani (Layered Chicken, Herb, Crispy Onion & Rice Dish)
- 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, (cut into large 1.5” sections)
- 4 large onions (3 onions sliced in uniform 1/8” slices for frying, and 1 onion medium diced for cooking)
- 4-6 cups vegetable oil or clarified butter, (for frying the sliced onions)
- 6 Tbsp clarified butter (or vegetable oil), (for cooking the diced onion, spices, and chicken)
- 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, (thinly sliced)
- 2 Tbsp garam masala spice mix
- 1 Tbsp Kashmiri chile powder ((or paprika))
- 1 Tbsp turmeric powder
- 5 cloves garlic, (minced finely)
- 1 piece ginger, (roughly the size of an overly large human thumb, peeled and minced finely)
- 1 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt ((2-5% fat content))
- 2 cups Basmati rice, (rinsed and drained)
- 6 whole green cardamon pods
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 whole stick of cinnamon
- 2 whole star anise
- 12 black peppercorns
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 cups water
- ½ cup dried raisins
- ½ cup almonds, (toasted, roughly chopped)
- 3 Tbsp heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp saffron threads
- 1 cup fresh parsley, (finely chopped)
- 1 cup fresh cilantro, (finely chopped)
- 1/8 cup fresh mint, (finely sliced)
- The night before you make this dish, slice your chicken thighs into large chunks and marinate in a combination of the 1 cup Greek yogurt, mixed with the jalapeno, minced ginger, minced garlic, and a pinch of salt.
- This will marinate overnight in the fridge.
- On the day that you are ready to cook (or the night before), slice 3 large onions into slices, and fry the slices in batches in hot 350F vegetable oil, until they are uniformly cooked golden brown and crispy.
- Remove from oil and reserve on paper towels.
- After you have marinated the chicken overnight, you are ready to prepare your chicken and gravy portion of the dish.
- This starts with heating the ghee in a heavy-bottomed saute pan, adding your garam masala and turmeric and Kashmiri chile powder, and cooking for 30 seconds, stirring to mix the ghee with the dried spices.
- Now add the diced onion, and cook on medium-low heat until the onions have softened.
- Add your marinated chicken and yogurt mix to the pot, and cook on medium heat until the chicken is barely cooked through (the chicken will continue cooking later).
- To parcook your basmati rice, begin by infusing 3 cups hot water with 6 whole green cardamom pods, 6 whole cloves, 2 bay leaves, 1 stick of cinnamon, 2 whole star anise, 12 whole black peppercorns, and 2 tsp kosher salt.
- Allow the boiling water to be infused with the whole spices for 15 minutes.
- Strain out the whole spices and reserve your water.
- When the water is boiling again, add the 2 cups basmati rice, the dried raisins, and the chopped almonds.
- Cook until the rice is still al-dente, or roughly 75% cooked, and strain out excess liquid.
- Finely chop 1 cup each of parsley and cilantro, and finely slice 1/8 cup fresh mint.
- Take 3 Tbsp heavy cream and infuse with 1 Tbsp whole saffron threads, allow to sit for give minutes and stir.
- Now, you are ready to assemble the dish.
- This will work best in a heavy-bottomed oven-proof pot with a heavy lid, like a Dutch oven.
- Begin by placing a thin ½” layer of the parcooked rice on the bottom of the dish.
- Sprinkle on a few drops of the orange saffron cream.
- On top of the rice, add a thin layer of the chicken, yogurt, and onion mixture, followed by a layer of crispy onions, followed by a layer of the fresh herbs.
- Repeat this process by adding more layers of rice, saffron cream, chicken, crispy onions, and fresh herbs until you have run out of chicken and rice.
- *Save a bit of the fresh herbs and crispy onions to garnish at the end!
- Bake in a 350F oven with the lid on for 25-30 minutes.
- Remove lid and serve.
- Garnish with the remaining crispy onions and fresh herbs.
There are a handful of specialized ingredients and spices required to make this recipe, such as garam masala. These spice mixes can be easily made at home, where the spices are toasted whole individually, and ground into a powder and combined. Freshly-made garam masala tastes more flavorful than the store-bought version, although store-bought is still wonderful.
For individuals who do not like cilantro, cilantro can be omitted in place of more parsley.
Enjoy this dish with yogurt (or cucumber raita) and mango chutney, which can be found in many grocery stores.