Chicken Biryani

 It seems that our time living here inBahrainmay be coming to a close sooner than we expected.  My husband got word of a job opportunity that was just too good to pass up with the understanding that we would be moving sooner than originally planned.  It feels bittersweet-we are so excited for our next adventure, but now I feel more pressure to take time to take advantage of all that our host nation has to offer.  What that really translates to is a lot of  last shopping for regional treasures and mastering the dishes we have discovered and come to love here.  Sure, I’ve got a few recipes; but I’ve taken advantage of how easy it is to have our favorite regional dishes delivered to our door or available ready made when we go grocery shopping.  

Biryani is a rice dish that is very common inBahrainand has been on my list of dishes that I would have to learn to make before we left for a long time-but not because it’s a family favorite.  Rather, it’s my daughter’s favorite.  No one else really cared for this meal-until our (wonderful, amazing, sweet, awesome, caring) nanny/maid graciously agreed to not only give me her recipe, but to teach me to make it.  Everywhere we go, the biryani varies.  The level of heat, the combination of spices, the type of meat used; but no one’s version even came close to Nelu’s recipe.  As we danced around each other in my tiny kitchen, frying onions, smashing garlic, seasoning chicken, I watched her build layers of flavor that I had never experienced before in a biryani.  While at first glance, this recipe seems involved, I think after making it a few times this one-pot meal would come together easily.  Now my family will be able to enjoy Madison’s favorite “spicy rice” long after we have moved away.


Chicken Biryani
Recipe Type: Main
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
Serves: 4
  • 3 cups cooked Basmati Rice
  • 3 red onions
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 chicken, cut into pieces (i.e. breast, wings, thighs) bone-in, skin off
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or less depending on your spice preference.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish
  1. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt and turmeric on the chicken pieces and rub it in to coat. Set to the side.
  2. Slice one onion into thin slivers. Heat oil over medium high heat and fry the onions until brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  3. While the onions fry, chop the potato into cubes. Remove onions from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Place potatoes in the oil and fry until golden brown on each side, about 6 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, put garlic and ginger in a plastic bag and smash with a rolling pin (alternatively, this can be done with a mortar and pestle.)
  5. Remove potatoes from the oil when browned with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add the chicken to the oil and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes (the chicken does not need to cook through at this point.)
  6. While chicken browns, add tomatoes and coriander to a food processor and puree until smooth.
  7. Once chicken is evenly browned, remove with a slotted spoon. Chop the remaining onions and add them along with the cardamom and cinnamon to the oil and fry. After one minute, add the ginger/garlic mixture to the oil and fry one minute longer.
  8. Add the chicken back to the oil along with the ground red pepper (if using), black pepper, cumin, remaining salt, and pureed tomato mixture. Stir and reduce heat to medium low and cover.
  9. Add the potatoes to the chicken mixture after 5 minutes. Cook 5 minutes more and add the bouillon cube (no need to add water.) Cook until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
  10. Mix in the cooked basmati rice and top with the fried onions. Return the lid to the pot and cook 5-6 minutes more to allow the rice to absorb the flavor. Serve with fresh cilantro garnished on top.

This dish is even better served the next day!




P.S.  If you haven’t visited my blog before, welcome!  I’m so glad you stopped by and hope you visit again!  If you have, you may notice it looks a little different around here.  Well, I had some behind-the-scenes, technical issues to work out, so I thought I’d make a few cosmetic changes as well.  Well, being the stubborn, hard headed person that I am, I decided to do it all myself, so I’ve spent the last few weeks pulling out my hair trying to figure things out (css is a bitch.)  There are still a few more kinks to work out, but so far I’m pretty happy with it (for now.) 


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Ramona - Glad to see you back!! I don’t know anything about computers and web design so I applaud you for getting it done! I love the bright new look of the page.

Love this biryani!! Your pictures and your tagine are stunning. :)

PS… so where are you off to next? The US or somewhere even more exotic? Change is overwhelming and exciting at the same time, but since you have been through this experience… you’ll do great. :)

Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts - The site looks wonderful! So where are you guys going next? Back to the states or another fun adventure over seas?

This rice dish looks amazing. This is all flavors we love here, I will have to try this soon!

Nami | Just One Cookbook - Alyssa! I know you were working hard on the site (every time I come here I see some updates on site! hehe), and it looks GREAATTTT!! It’s so hard to do it on our own. My husband and I do it from scratch too, and we still cannot figure out some stuff we want to make changes. And if we try the database sometimes crushes. I guess we’re very amateur… I love what you did, and great job!

And you are moving soon! Do you know to where? When I was growing up, I always wished that my parents move around so I could see the world. Now being a parent, I don’t know how I could pack and move… so much work! Hope all is well with you!

Your Chicken Biryani looks beautiful and delicious. So hard to take pictures of the brown food and you nailed it. Looks yum!

Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. - First, your site looks great! I can’t believe you did it yourself! I have no patience for it!

And two, this looks delicious!

Where are you guys going to go next?

Chandra@the plaid and paisley kitchen - I know I am late and that I am sure you are in the midst of huge International Move! I am just now reading this post, I do so hope that you come back to blogging after you settle in to your new home! Take care and Happy Travels!

alyssa - Chandra, we still have a few weeks to go yet. But thank you for the well wishes!

Patel - I love this fooooooooooooood

Farah - Omg I am so happy to come across this website you rawkk

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