Simple chicken biryani recipe

"A biryani always impresses anyone I’m cooking for, and this simple recipe means I don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen preparing it," says Anjali Pathak.

In India people prefer to eat meat off the bone, but you can use chicken breasts instead if you prefer.


  • 250g (8.8 oz) basmati rice
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 300g (10.6 oz) onions, sliced
  • 150g (5.3 oz) onion, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Patak's Biryani/Madras Paste
  • 4 chicken breast (skin removed) or 8 chicken joints (skin removed), cut into large pieces
  • 1 2.5 cm piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 pinch saffron strands (optional)
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 pinch salt to taste
To serve
  • 1 handful fried onions


  • Cuisine: Indian
  • Recipe Type: Main
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Preparation Time: 30 mins
  • Cooking Time: 30 mins
  • Serves: 4


  1. Wash the rice in several changes of warm water before leaving to soak in cold water for 20-25 minutes (if you have time).
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Gently heat the 4 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan and fry the sliced onions until golden brown. Drain on absorbent paper.
  3. In the same oil, sauté the diced onion for 5 minutes. Once they are light golden brown add the Patak's Biryani/Madras Paste. Add a little water to prevent the spices from burning, and stir well for a few minutes, or until you can start to see oil rising to the surface.
  4. Add the chicken and pour in about 100ml of water. Leave the masala to cook for about 15 minutes, or until the meat is cooked through.
  5. In the meantime, make the rice. Drain the soaked rice and bring around 2 pints of water to the boil in a pan.
  6. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, green cardamom pods and saffron (if using). Throw in the rice and stir well before seasoning the water well with salt and then drizzling in the remaining oil.
  7. Allow to cook for 5 minutes before draining and dividing the rice into three equal portions. Check the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened before dividing into two equal portions.
  8. Grease an ovenproof dish (such as a casserole dish) and layer the bottom with aromatic rice. Sprinkle with some chopped coriander, and then spread a layer of chicken followed by another sprinkling of chopped coriander.
  9. Repeat the layering until all the rice and chicken has been used. Seal the dish tightly with foil and a tight-fitting lid and pop in the oven for 10 minutes.
  10. Garnish with fried onions and serve.

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