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+ servings

Malabar Chicken Biryani

This easy, simple & delicious biryani from the coast of Kerala is something you can serve for a party as well as a midweek lunch!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Kerala
Keyword Chicken, Malabar
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 4


For the marination

  • 1 kg chicken cut into big pieces
  • 2 teaspoons plain red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • Salt to taste

Other ingredients for the gravy

  • 2 big onions, finely sliced
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (curds), whisked
  • 1 cup coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 curry leaves (optional but recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt – as needed

For the masala

  • 30 grams (about 2 inches) ginger
  • 30 grams (about 2 small or 1 big pod) garlic
  • 3 teaspoons poppy seeds, soaked in water for 5- 10 mins
  • 3-4 green chillies (adjust to taste)

For the rice

  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 600 grams (3 cups) basmati rice
  • 6 cups plain water or stock
  • 1 stock cube (bouillon) - use if water is used for the rice

For garnishing

  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup cashew nuts, halved
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 3 tablespoons Ghee for frying
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped


  • Wash, drain & marinate the chicken with the red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and lime juice. Keep aside for 30minutes, preferably in a refrigerator
  • In a frying pan, heat some ghee and fry the marinated chicken pieces till golden. This step will help lock the flavours in and the chicken won't disintegrate in the gravy.
  • Heat ghee as mentioned in 'For garnishing' in a pan and fry the cashew nuts till golden brown and then add the raisins and fry them till they puff up. Remove & keep aside. Add the onions and fry till golden brown. Remove on a plate and let them crisp up.
  • Add some more ghee if required & fry the onions as mentioned in 'For the gravy' and saute them till translucent/pale pink. Toss in the tomatoes, throw in some salt to taste and fry for about a minute till the tomatoes get all mushy
  • Add the coarsely ground paste and saute for 2-3 minutes or till the raw smell vanishes. Reduce the heat and stir in the yogurt and lemon juice and cook on slow fire till oil separates. Now add fried chicken pieces, mix well,cover and cook till chicken is half done. At this point add the roughly chopped coriander & mint leaves, the garam masala (I missed this in the video). Mix well, cover & cook till chicken is done.
  • Reserve around 3/4th to 1 cup of the gravy. This is to cook the rice.
  • Soak the rice for 10 minutes - this helps it cook faster. After 10mins, wash and drain the rice well.
  • In the meanwhile bring approximately 6 cups of water to a boil. You will need a total of 6 cups of liquid. So it will be a combination of the reserved gravy plus plain water.
  • In a large pan heat the ghee and toss in 4 cloves & 2 cardamoms and a piece of cinnamon (optional - hence i havent mentioned in the ingredient list) and fry the rice for 4-5 mins till it starts to feel a bit heavy - this is indication that its time to pour in the boiling water - if you continue to fry beyond this point, the rice will start to break
  • Add the 6 cups of liquid (reserved gravy + freshly boiled water). Stir well. Crumble the stock cube into it. Check taste and add more salt if required. You can also add a few drops of lime juice. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Cover the pan with a well fitting lid. Now reduce the heat completely and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat after 5 minutes and let it sit undisturbed for 15 mins. Once done, open the pan and fluff up the rice with a fork
  • Take a large vessel, spread the chicken pieces along with a little gravy on each piece. Add one layer of cooked rice over the chicken chicken. Repeat the same process and make two more layers
  • Garnish with the fried onions, chopped coriander & mint, fried cashew nuts & raisins


The use of the gravy to make the rice is just to enhance it's flavour. You can just use plain water instead