Malabar Chicken Biriyani

Malabar chicken biryani is a standard choice for most Malabari functions.

For the rice:
1. Jeerakashala rice - 4cups
2. Ghee – 4tbsp (to fry the rice) + 2 tbsp (to fry onions for garnishing)
3. Lime – 2tsp
4. Salt – To taste
5. Water – 8cups
6. Spice-pouch
7. Rose water – ¼ cup
8. Saffron – 5-6 strands (soaked in 4tbsp warm milk)

For the Spice-pouch:
    Fennel seeds – 1tbsp
    Cardamom – 3
    Cinnamon sticks – 2 pieces
    Cloves – 8
    Star anise – 3
    Shajeera/Caraway seeds – 1tsp
    Bay leaf – 2 leaves

   Crush all these spices lightly and put them into a small pouch, made from a soft muslin cloth, and tie it up.

For the chicken masala:
1. Chicken - 1kg, cut into medium pieces
2. Onion - 4 (for the chicken masala), 1 (for garnishing), sliced thinly
3. Tomato – 1, cubed
4. Green chillies - 5-8 (according to heat tolerance)
5. Ginger - 1 big piece
6. Garlic – 1 pod
7. Mint leaves – 1 small bunch
8. Coriander leaves – 1 small bunch
9. Fennel seeds – 2tbsp
10. Pepper – 1tsp
11. Lime juice – 2tsp
12. Curd – ½ cup
13. Turmeric – ½ tsp
14. Salt – 1tsp
15. Ghee – 1tbsp


·        Wash and soak the rice for about an hour. Drain out all the water, you can move the rice onto a soft muslin cloth, tie it up and hang it somewhere so that all the water it drained out.

·        After you have soaked the rice, you can start work on marinating the chicken. Roughly crush together ingredients 4 to 9 (listed under chicken masala). You can do this in the chopper in the food processor or use the pulse option on the mixer. Mix this with the chicken, along with ingredients 10 to 14 and keep aside for at least 2-3 hours so that the masala seeps well into the meat.

·        Heat a skillet and add 2tbsp ghee to it and fry the onion for the garnish, add some sugar to it so that it gets slightly caramelized. Keep frying on a medium flame till the onion become light brown in color. Strain out of the ghee and keep aside. Keep the ghee aside too for garnishing the rice at the end.

·        To the same skillet add the remaining 4tbsp ghee and fry the rice till it’s almost golden in color, on a medium flame. This should take about 20 minutes. Keep stirring gently, ensuring that the rice doesn’t break. While the rice is getting fried, in a separate vessel, boil 8cups water with the spice-pouch, lime juice and salt. Once the rice is fried add the boiled water, close lid and cook on a medium to low flame for about 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat and leave it for another 10 minutes, without opening the lid.

·        Now, heat a pressure cooker, add 1tbsp ghee. Add the sliced onions and sauté till it turn pink. Now add the tomato pieces and sauté well. To this add the marinated chicken. Mix well. Cook for about 3-4 whistles. Do not add any extra water. Ensure that the chicken doesn’t get over cooked. Once you open the lid, there will be some gravy. Cook on a low flame till the gravy thickens a little.

·        Open the lid on the rice and remove the spice-pouch. Add the rose water, soaked saffron and the ghee that was kept aside for garnishing. Mix well and close lid for another 10 minutes.

·        Now for layering the biriyani. Take a skillet in which you plan to set the biriyani, add about 4-5 spoons of the chicken masala, then add 5-6 spoons of rice, repeat this procedure to make about 3 such layers. Garnish with the fried onions. Cover with a well fitting lid.

·        Heat an iron tawa on high flame and keep the biriyani’s skillet on top of it for about 15 minutes. Turn off heat, and leave it for another 15 minutes. This is for the dum and helps all the flavors blend well with the rice and the meat.

·        Biriyani is ready to be served!!!

·        Serve with Pappadam, Biriyani chutney and Salad/Raita.