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Chicken biryani

In this one-pot Indian classic, the rice soaks up all the spicy goodness and chicken juices. Use a heavy-based casserole to keep it from scorching on the bottom. Start this recipe a day ahead to marinate the chicken.

You'll need

1 onion, thinly sliced 150 ml 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 quill, broken into rough pieces 2 long dried chillies, broken into rough pieces 1 fresh bay leaf 500 gm thick natural yoghurt 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 Marylands, halved through the joint 400 gm basmati rice 50 gm butter, diced 70 ml milk ¼ tsp saffron threads To serve: fried shallots and lemon wedges


  • 01
  • Fry onion in 120ml oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden (6-8 minutes). 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 yoghurt, herbs, ginger, garlic and 2 tsp sea salt and mix well. Add chicken, stir to coat, cover and refrigerate overnight to marinate.
  • 02
  • Spread chicken mixture in the base of a heavy-based casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Bring rice, 20gm 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.
  • 03
  • 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 minutes without removing the lid, then serve hot, scattered with fried shallots and coriander sprigs, and with lemon wedges to the side.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 - 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 - 6 people

Drink Suggestion

Perfumed viognier.

Featured in

Jun 2015

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