Chicken biryani

Chicken biryani

At Home with Ben
Mark Roper

I have made many biryanis over the years, and included a vegetarian version in my first book, Outdoor. I love the flavours and the anticipation of what will be revealed when you lift off the lid and turn over the rice to expose the aromatic luxury of the meat and sauce beneath.

One of the finest biryanis I’ve ever eaten was cooked for me by a lovely couple from the Barossa Valley. It was studded with dried fruit, and since then I have included dried apricots in my version.

A cast-iron Le Creuset pot would be ideal for cooking this biryani.


Quantity Ingredient
6 chicken thighs, bone in, skinned, jointed and cut in half
100ml sunflower oil
2 onions, sliced
pinch saffron
2 1/2 tablespoons milk
5 green cardamom pods, crushed
1 stick cinnamon
5 whole cloves
3 fresh or dried bay leaves
75g tomato paste
500g basmati rice, washed and drained
1 cup chopped mint leaves
1 cup chopped coriander leaves
1/2 cup toasted cashews
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1 tablespoon garam masala, to serve
2 green chillies, chopped, to serve


Quantity Ingredient
50g Ginger paste
50g Garlic paste
4 red chillies, puréed
150g plain yoghurt
1 tablespoon ground turmeric


  1. Combine the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken and leave to marinate for 2 hours in the fridge, or preferably overnight.
  2. Preheat the oven to 170°C.
  3. Pour the sunflower oil into a large heavy-bottomed ovenproof saucepan or casserole dish and shallow fry half the onion over medium heat until golden and a little crisp. Drain and set aside.
  4. Place the saffron in the milk and set aside to soak.
  5. Reheat the oil and add the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves and remaining onion. Fry until slightly golden. Add the chicken, reserving the marinade, and stir for 10 minutes over medium–high heat. Mix in the tomato paste and reserved marinade and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
  6. Boil the rice until two-thirds cooked. Drain and arrange on top of the chicken, alternating layers of rice with the reserved fried onion and the chopped mint, coriander, cashews and apricots. Finish with a layer of rice.
  7. Pour the saffron milk over the top of the biryani and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place in the oven and cook for 20 minutes. When cooked, remove from the oven and allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
  8. To serve, turn over the layers of rice with a spoon and sprinkle with the garam masala and chopped green chillies.
At Home with Ben
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