Easy Chicken or Vegetable Biryani

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An easy version of a biryani, a great one pot meal for sharing with friends. You can easily halve the quantities for a smaller meal, and swap the chicken for a range of vegetables for a vegetarian version.

4 onions, roughly chopped
4-5 tbsp sunflower oil
Cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
3-4 cardamom pods
2-3 star anise
2-3 cloves
600g basmati rice
4-6 garlic cloves
3cm root ginger
2 green chillies, chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
2 tsp chilli powder
1 heaped tsp turmeric powder
2-3 tsp garam masala
6 tbsp plain yoghurt
Rose water (kewra water)
Fresh coriander, chopped
Fresh mint, chopped

Chicken version – serves 8
1 whole chicken, cut into pieces

Vegetarian version – serves 4
3 potatoes, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 cup frozen peas


Heat a pan and add a good glug of sunflower oil. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom pods, stare anise and cloves and let them sizzle for a few seconds. Next add the chopped onions and cook on a low heat for 12-15 minutes until golden.

While the onions are cooking, start to cook enough basmati rice for 8, in salted water. Drain the rice when it is half cooked as it will continue to cook when the biryani is baked.

Grate the garlic cloves and ginger, add to the onions and continue to cook for another few seconds before adding the chillies and tomatoes. Cook this mixture for another 10 minutes and then add the rest of the spices: 2 teaspoons of salt, chili powder, turmeric and garam masala and mix well. Remove from the heat before adding the yoghurt, to avoid it splitting, and mix well.

Chicken version
Add the chicken pieces to the yoghurt onion mix, cover and return to the heat. Cook on a low heat for 30 minutes and then rest for another 30 minutes. Cover the chicken mixture with the semi-cooked rice, press down and reduce the heat to the lowest that it can go. Sprinkle with a generous amount of chopped fresh coriander and a little fresh mint, and a few drops of rose water. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.

Vegetarian version
Fully cook the rice (300g) for the vegetarian version. Add the chopped potatoes and carrots to the yoghurt onion mix, along with 50-100ml hot water. Mix well, cover and cook for 20 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Remove from the heat. Add the frozen peas to the cooked rice and spread the rice on top of the vegetable yoghurt mixture. Add chopped fresh coriander and mint and a few drops of rose water. Cover and simmer on the lowest heat for 10 minutes.

When the biryani is cooked, fluff up the rice and gently stir to combine, without breaking up the chicken or the vegetables. Serve hot with yoghurt or chutneys.

6 thoughts on “Easy Chicken or Vegetable Biryani”

  1. So delicious! I wanted a little extra protein with the vegetarian version so I added chickpeas just before putting the rice on top. It came out perfect!

  2. This was delicious. I was craving Biryani, found this recipe, and happily had (almost) all the right ingredients at home. I ate SO much- it was so yummy! Thank you!!

  3. Thanks, Chetna, this recipe looks amazing! Is it possible to use brown basmati rice? How long would you cook the rice in the second phase (on top of the chicken/veg) if subbing brown rice?

  4. I just made it and sort of combined the veggies with the chicken. I am soooo excited to try it tonight! I love watching Chetna on Instagram and on YouTube, thank you!!

  5. I made this tonight and combined the meat and veggie recipes! It was soooo yummy. I will DEFINITELY be making this again. I liked the idea that one of the other commenters made about adding chickpeas. Also, side note, I love the Instagram (where I discovered you / this recipe) and YouTube videos. Keep them coming!!


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