See How to Do It

Indian Chicken Biryani

Fresh Indian cinnamon bark is different than what you find at a U.S. supermarket.

Here are just some (!) of the spices that will go into chicken biryani.

Indian chili powder is very different from what's called "chili powder" in the U.S. supermarket. Sudha's chili powder is a different color, orange-red, and much spicier. It's made out of a different variety of chilis, likely the Gunthur Sannam chili that is a major crop in Andhra Pradesh, the Indian State where Sudha is from. This chili powder she is holding is made from chilis from her family's farm.

The photo (below) is of a spice called mace. Mace is the dried casing of the nutmeg nut.

For chicken biryani, you need one-inch chunks of bone-in chicken. Venu shows us how to do it. Get a cleaver (or a super heavy, sharp knife) and whack perpendicular to the chicken leg and thigh bones.

To the chicken marinade, you'll add (pictured clockwise below from top right): chili powder, salt, lime, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric (center) and plain yogurt (top left).

Then add the contents of this package (below): about a half a cup of ten more ground up spices.

Mix up the chicken and marinate over night. The next day, cut up green Thai chilis, tomato and onion.

Saute whole spices in the pan that will cook the chicken and a sauce.

After a couple minutes, add the split chilis.

When the chili's are part golden brown,
then add onions and cook until soft and starting to brown.

Add the tomatoes and cook five minutes.

Then mix in the marinated chicken (below).

Cook covered, stirring every once in a while, for about twenty minutes until chicken is cooked throughout and the onions and tomatoes break down into a sauce.

Shallow fry onions in oil until golden.

Saute whole spices and chilis in butter to flavor the rice. 

Add ginger-garlic paste (below).

Then add rice you've rinsed 3 or 4 times (below).

 Mix the rice, butter and spices.

Add 1.25 cups of water for every 1 cup rice - less than you normally would. The rice ends up only half cooked.

Make layers of rice, chicken and sauce, cashews, fried onions and sprinkles of orange red food coloring (below).

You'll make about 3 layers of each ingredient. 

This (below) is the food coloring she used. It's a powder. You use a dash with a tablespoon of water and sprinkle the colored water with your fingers on each layer to make red speckles.

 Seal the edges of the pan tightly with tinfoil (below) so no moisture escapes in the oven.

While the biryani is baking, make the riata (below).

After twenty minutes, pull the biryani out of the oven and mix it all up. 

Then decorate the top with hardboiled eggs (below).

Serve with lime wedges, sliced raw onion and raita on the table. 

Photos by Lindsay Sterling. Use by permission only.