Chicken biryani

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

    A generous pinch of grated nutmeg

    3 cardamom pods

    2 cloves

    2 star anise

    1 cinnamon quill, broken into rough pieces

    2 long dried chillies, broken into rough pieces

    1 fresh bay leaf

    500g thick yogurt

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

    1½ tbsp finely grated ginger

    4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

    4 chicken thighs, halved through the joint

    400g basmati rice

    50g butter, diced

    70ml milk

    A pinch of saffron threads


  • 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 salt. 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, about 1 hour.

    Stand for 15 mins without removing the lid, then garnish with fried shallots and coriander sprigs. Serve with lemon wedges.