Chicken biryani

In this one-pot Indian classic, the rice soaks up all the spicy goodness and chicken juices

Prep 0 h : 30 m
Cook 1 h : 15 m


  • 1 onion, thinly sliced

    150ml vegetable oil

    2½ tbsp sweet paprika

    1 tbsp each black peppercorns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds

    2½ tsp each ground turmeric and ground chilli

    ¼ tsp finely grated nutmeg

    3 cardamom pods

    2 cloves

    2 star anise

    1 cinnamon stick, broken into rough pieces

    2 long dried chillies, broken 
into rough pieces

    1 fresh bay leaf

    500g thick natural yogurt

    ½ cup each finely chopped mint and coriander, plus extra coriander 
sprigs to serve

    1½ tbsp finely grated ginger

    4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

    4 chicken leg portions, halved 
through the joint into thigh and drumstick

    400g basmati rice

    50g butter, diced

    70ml milk

    ¼ tsp saffron threads

    To serve: Fried shallots and lemon wedges


  • Fry onion in 120ml oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 6-8 mins. 

    Transfer to a bowl and cool. Dry-roast spices, chilli and bay leaf over medium heat, then pound with a mortar and pestle to a fine powder. 

    Add to onion along with yogurt, herbs, ginger, garlic and 2 tsp sea salt and mix well. 

    Add chicken, stir to coat, cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.

    Spread chicken mixture in the base of a heavy-based casserole with a tight-fitting lid. 

    Bring rice, 20g butter, remaining oil and enough well-salted water to cover by 2cm to the boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. 

    Drain and spread over chicken.

    Bring milk, saffron and remaining butter to the simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat, then pour over rice, cover with foil, then the lid. 

    Cook over low heat until rice is fluffy and chicken is cooked through (50 minutes-1 hour). 

    Stand for 15 mins without removing the lid, then serve hot, scattered with fried shallots and coriander sprigs, and with lemon wedges to the side.