Chicken Biryani


Making a biryani can be quite a tedious task for those who do not cook often, but if you know which ingredients go in when, you'll be a pro at it. Although it involves multiple steps to prepare, the rewards are very satisfying.

First we prepare the marinade with the meat, it would be better if you did this overnight. But if you don't have the time, a good 2-4 hours before hand will be fine. Marinating the meat overnight tenderises it which would make it a lot softer in the final product. The rice and black lentils need to be soaked and cooked about an hour before you can start the other prep work. The rest of the ingredients such as potatoes and onions, can be prepared beforehand as well, as these will cook through in the oven. The best thing to do is prepare everything first; rice, lentils, onions, potatoes etc. Especially if this is your first time making a Biryani, it's best to be organised and prepared.

Total prep time: 1.5h

Total cooking time: 2h

Serves: 8-10


3kg Lamb shoulder meat (cut, washed and drained)

3 cups Basmati rice

1 cup masoor(brown lentils)

3 medium onions(sliced)

4-6 potatoes (cut in 4)

1/2 cup oil, plus extra for frying

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp egg yellow colouring(optional)

50g butter (optional)


6 tbs biryani masala

2 tsp turmeric

2-3 green chillies(sliced) (optional)

3 tsp crushed ginger & garlic

5-6 sprigs of mint(washed & drained)

half a bunch dhania leaves (washed & drained)

150ml maas or plain yoghurt

60ml tomato puree

1/4 cup vegetable oil

coarse salt

saffron(optional) - steep a pinch of saffron in boiling water



1. Marinate whole spices(biryani mix) can be ground if you want, else it's perfectly ok to throw them in as in. Grinding them will impart more flavour, so it depends on your taste requirements. Roast them lightly in a frying pan for 3-5mins, then using a mortar & pestle, grind till powder form.

2. Combine marinade ingredients into the meat. Get your hands in there and coat the meat properly with all the spices. This should either be in a big bowl that will fit in your fridge or a medium size pot. Once mixed, make sure the marinade is nicely soaked in, cling wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Take your marinade out of the fridge about an hour before you start making the biryani, so that it gets to room temperature.

4. Soak the rice and lentils in separate pots with water for an hour. You can do this as soon as you take the meat out the fridge.

5. In a large pot (one big enough for the meat & rice) heat oil and fry the 4 sliced onions. Once golden brown, remove half the amount of onions and keep aside. This will be added back when layering. Add your meat marinade, be sure to scoop out ALL the marinade. Let it cook on medium heat for about 20-30mins.

6. Rinse the dholl thoroughly, the water should rinse clean, add 2 tsps coarse salt and a tsp turmeric powder, cover with water and cook on high until it's soft. Make sure there's always enough water for the lentils to cook. Approx 30-45mins. Set aside.

7. Wash and drain the rice that has been soaking. Add water to cover. Add 3 tsp coarse salt, cook on medium heat for 10mins. Set aside. NB: Rice should not overcook as it will cook through in the oven!

8. Next, peel potatoes, cut into 4 and sprinkle fine salt, add ½ tsp food colouring if you like your potatoes to have that authentic orange biryani look. Deep fry in oil in a separate pan or pot. The idea here is to get the potatoes crispy on the outside without fully cooking them on the inside. This will help the potatoe stay firm in the biryani but be soft when you smash them. 2mins each side should do. Remove from oil, set aside.

9. Now it's time for the fun part, layering! While the large pot of meat is still on medium heat, place the potatoes over the meat, then the masoor dholl. Use a flat spoon with holes, so you dont end up with too much water. Next the rice, use the same ladle. Lastly, add the fried onions that were kept aside.

10. Add ½ cup water around the sides and place butter, cut in pieces, on the rice.

11. Cover the pot with a piece of foil and then place the pot lid on top. This will help keep the steam in the pot. Place in the oven for 2-3 hours at 180 deg. Check it after an hour and half, by carefully removing the pot from the oven, lift the foil, be careful not to burn your hands. With a spoon, you can move the rice from one side to check if the meat is almost done and if there's still water, it should cook for the required amount of time. Pinch the rice with your finger tips to check if that has cooked through as well. Cover and place pot back in oven.


NB: Please do NOT mix the rice and meat once it comes out, remove the rice first, then the masala.

Happy eating – The TOP team :)

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