309Write - Traditional Chicken Biryani

Chicken Biryani is a delicious savory rice dish that is loaded with spicy marinated chicken, caramelized onions, and flavorful saffron rice. For my Biryani, I simplify the order of operations, while retaining the traditional layered approach to assembling it.



Chicken Biryani is a savory chicken and rice dish that includes layers of chicken, rice, and aromatics that are steamed together. The bottom layer of rice absorbs all the chicken juices as it cooks, giving it a tender texture and rich flavor, while the top layer of rice turns out white and fluffy. Buried in the Biryani, you’ll find whole cuts of succulent chicken bursting with flavor from the potent array of spices, herbs, and aromatics it’s marinated in.

Whether you’re talking Arroz con Pollo, Hainanese Chicken Rice, or Oyako Donburi, chicken and rice is a classic pairing that has permeated culinary culture around the world. It makes sense that earlier in human history, this staple seed would be combined with a domesticated source of protein. Still, the fact that this combination has endured as a popular favorite today, speaks to its unassailable deliciousness.

For my version, I’ve simplified the preparation a bit by marinating the chicken in a spicy mixture of garam masala, garlic, ginger, chili peppers, cilantro, and garlic. When fried, the spices and aromatics on the exterior of the chicken caramelize into an insanely flavorful crust. I like to cook the onions separately, as it allows you to fully caramelize them into a sweet umami-packed layer that contrasts the spicy, savory chicken. For the rice, a quick par-boil with cardamom, bay leaves, and cumin infuses some flavor, while ensuring the rice is tender enough steam after the Biryani is assembled.

  • By parboiling the rice, the Biryani can be steamed instead of boiled. This renders the chicken tender and juicy.
  • Marinating the chicken and then browning it ensures it is seasoned to the core while creating new layers of flavor thanks to Maillard browning.
  • Properly caramelizing the onions adds loads of umami, and it also lends a subtle sweetness that’s the perfect contrast to the savory and spicy chicken.

    for chicken

    • 1 tablespoon
      vegetable oil
    • 10 grams
      garlic (grated)
    • 10 grams
      ginger (grated)
    • 1
      serrano chili peppers (to taste, minced)
    • 5 grams
      mint (finely chopped)
    • 10 grams
      cilantro (finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon
      garam masala
    • 1/2 teaspoon
      ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon
    • 900 grams
      bone-in skin-on chicken thighs

    for rice

    • 6 cups
    • 2 1/2 teaspoons
    • 5
      pods green cardamom (smashed)
    • 1 teaspoon
      cumin seeds
    • 1
      bay leaf
    • 360 grams
      basmati rice (~2 cups)

    for onions

    • 2 tablespoon
    • 2
      medium onions (sliced thin)

     for Biryani

    • 1 cup
      reserved boiling liquid (from rice)
    • 1/2 teaspoon
      saffron threads
    • cilantro (for garnish).

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