• There’s not much to equal the pleasure of ordering a perfect biryani, except in telling an envious mate. (SBS Food)Source: SBS Food

While biryani is now savoured in all parts of India, this version is a blending of Mughal and Andhra Pradesh cuisines, and dates back to the royal kitchens of the Mughals, who ruled much of India for more than two centuries. The key to Hyderabad’s fragrant, signature rice dish is to cook the meat and rice in an airtight pot on a very low flame, so the rice absorbs the rich flavours of the meat. The grains of rice should remain separate and unbroken.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (699 votes)


  • 4 cm piece ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 95 g (⅓ cup) natural yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 small green chillies, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped coriander leaves, plus extra, to serve
  • ⅓ cup roughly chopped mint leaves, plus extra, to serve
  • 1.4 kg whole chicken, cut into 8 (see Note)
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 4 red onions, sliced
  • 50 g (⅓ cup) blanched almonds
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 3 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 600 g (3 cups) basmati rice, soaked in cold water for 2 hours

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Soaking time 2 hours

Marinating time 30 minutes

DRINK 2012 De Bortoli La Bohème Pinot Noir Rosé, Yarra Valley, Vic ($20)

Place ginger and garlic in the bowl of a small food processor and process until a paste forms. Transfer to a large bowl, add yoghurt, juice, turmeric, ground chilli, garam masala, green chillies, ½ tsp salt and half the coriander and mint, mixing well to combine. Add chicken, turning to coat in marinade, then cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place saffron in a bowl with 2 tbsp warm water and set aside to infuse for the same amount of time.

Heat ghee and oil in a large, non-stick frying pan with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan, drain on paper towel and set aside. Add almonds to same pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan, drain on paper towel and set aside.

Remove all but 1 tbsp oil mixture from pan and reserve. Allow excess marinade to drip off chicken, then add to pan and reduce heat to low.

Place a large saucepan of cold water over high heat. Add bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and caraway seeds. Drain rice, then add to pan and bring to the boil. As soon as rice starts to boil, strain out half the rice and evenly spread over chicken. Drizzle over some of the reserved cooking oil, top with half the fried onions and half the fried almonds, then sprinkle over remaining coriander and mint. Continue cooking biryani over low heat, and continue boiling remaining rice for a further 2 minutes or until tender.

Drain remaining rice, then place on top of biryani. Top with the remaining fried almonds. Drizzle over saffron-infused water, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook for a further 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and rice is tender. Top with remaining fried onions and serve sprinkled with coriander and mint.


• Using poultry shears, remove wing tips at second joint and discard, leaving one joint attached to bird. Cut legs, then thighs from chicken. Remove breasts and halve each widthwise. You will have 8 pieces.


Photography by Chris Chen. Drinks suggestions by Dan Coward.