Biryani Pilaf

Biryani Pilaf

I used to think I knew a lot about any kind of pilaf but I managed to surprise even myself with this recipe. The kids said it was the best pilaf ever eaten. And I realised why it is so popular and loved by everybody - it's got a very complex and super delicious taste which can become addictive.

There are many biryani recipes, with chicken, mutton or beef, as well as various cooking methods, with complex or basic spices. I chose one of the simplest recipes, with a few basic spices and relatively easy to make - to avoid being intimidated (myself and you) by too many manoeuvres in the kitchen. 

I didn't make it hot because of the kids, but you can adapt biryani to your taste. I warmly recommend this recipe, it's an extremely tasty pilaf, truly suited for a king!


Chicken meat
800 g
I used 4 chicken thighs, cut into halves, they can be boneless, or replaced with any other meat - turkey, beef, mutton etc.
150 g
Tomato paste
2 tbsp
2 tsp
Sweet paprika
2 tbsp
Garlic cloves
5 pieces
or 1 tbsp garlic powder
Fresh shredded ginger
1 tsp
or ginger powder
Curry powder
1 tbsp
or turmeric
Basmati rice
500 g
it must be Basmati and of the highest quality
1 piece
Unt ghee
2 tbsp
or regular butter
3 pieces
0.25 tsp

Step by step


Place the chicken, washed and cut into big pieces, into a large bowl.

Next time I would like to use boneless thighs, so that they cook faster and are easier to handle when serving.


Into a smaller separate bowl, combine 150g yogurt, 2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp tomato paste, 2 tbsp paprika, garlic powder, shredded ginger and 1 tbsp curry.


Pour over the chicken and use your hands to coat the chicken properly everywhere.

Let marinate for 1-3 hours at room temperature. You can marinate for longer, in which case, refrigerate.


After the meat has marinated, we actually start cooking biryani.

Place 2-3 tbsp ghee or regular butter into a deep pan or a heavy-bottomed pot/Dutch oven.


Add a finely diced onion and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

Then, optionally, you can add in 3 cloves. Keep in the pot until the onion is slightly brown, then remove (they aren't edible). The cloves will give a nice flavour to the oil and will enhance the taste.


When the onion is cooked, toss in the chicken and the marinade.

Cook over medium heat and, optionally, cover with a lid. Do not stir at all, let the chicken brown for 10 minutes.


After about 10 minutes, turn the chicken pieces on the other side, notice they have to be well browned. If they aren't, cook until they are.

After turning on the other side, cook for 10 more minutes.


Pour over 200ml water, simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.

After this, turn heat off and set aside for 15 minutes, until we prepare the rice and, optionally, the saffron.


Optionally, if you have saffron, place in a bowl, pour over 100ml hot water and let sit for 15 minutes.


Bring to a boil a large pot with 4l water and 1 tbsp salt.

When it comes to the boil, add in the basmati rice (well washed several times in advance).


Mix well and simmer for 7 minutes, you can even set the timer.


After 7 minutes, continue to simmer and, using a skimmer or a sieve, start taking out some rice.

Place the first layer of rice over the chicken and the sauce in the pot.


Continue transferring the rice little at a time.

Do not tranfer it all at once, there is an explanation for this, but it's not the right time to talk about it right now. Now we are cooking and following the directions.


Strain the last layer of rice and place it in the pot. 

Even out gently with a spoon, do not stir.


Pour the hot water with saffron over the rice in the pot, if you have prepared it earlier.

Do not mix!


Now turn the heat on again and place the pot over heat. When you start hearing a simmering mumble, turn the heat to very low, cover with a lid and simmer slowly for 25-30 minutes.

This way the rice will puff up and take in all the flavours from the sauce.


After 30 minutes, turn the heat off. You need to be patient now, so let sit with the lid on for another 20-30 minutes (heat off) before serving - for the flavours to blend.

Carefully insert a spatula or a skimmer deep in the pot and take a spoonful or rice from the bottom and bring it to the surface. Do not stir, it's the combination of different colours that makes the biryani so particular: it has to be a mix of white, yellow and red rice.


Most of the times it's even recommended tipping it over into a large bowl and then served. This is for all the rice to be covered in cooking liquid, which makes it look beautifully but, most importantly, tasty.

It's fantastically good, it has become the family favourite. You should definitely try it.


Quantity: 8 servings
Prep time: 120 min
Difficulty: intermediate
Ready in: 120 min
Publish date:

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