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Delicious Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani Recipe

Updated on May 13, 2015
The perfect Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani
The perfect Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani

The Authentic Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani Recipe

Hyderabad is the city of Nizams and its food culture has dazzled food lovers from across the world, in particular non vegetarian dishes and biryani.

However as with many dishes, over time, the Hyderabadi Biryani has slowly become muddled in preparation styles by many restaurants. Often nowadays, it resembles an insipid version of Indian fried rice. The original flavor and authenticity is often shortchanged for a dish that resembles the biryani but in actual fact has little to do with the finer nuances of the royal dish.

While originally this biryani was essentially a mutton recipe, over time, due to changing conditions and lifestyles, the chicken biryani, has gained in prominence and popularity. For lovers of mutton biryani, the dish is made in the same way with a longer cook time as it takes longer for the mutton to cook.

Secrets behind the Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani

Spices are the standalone foundation behind the Hyderabadi chicken biryani adding an aromatic and flavorful finish to the dish. Saffron or as it is also known in India, Kesar, is a coloring agent which also adds a pleasant aroma to the biryani - and yes, it is one of most expensive spices in the world.

The chicken itself must be fresh and clean, with bones and it is preferable to slit the meat on the pieces so that the masala would seep inside the meat.

Rice is one of the most important ingredients of the biryani, biryani being a rice dish to begin with. The rice should be long grained and Basmati rice comes with a wonderful aroma. Its necessary to cook the rice till around 80% and not completely as you should leave some room for the Heating process described below when the rice absorbs the flavors of the chicken curry/masala.

Finally, you cannot compromise on ghee or clarified butter when preparing the Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani as it adds an immeasurable richness to the dish.

Cook Time

Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 1 hour
Ready in: 1 hour 45 min
Yields: 2-3 people


  • 2 cups Basmati long grain rice (alternatively just use long grain rice if you cant find Basmati rice)
  • 400 gms chicken (with bones)
  • 2 cups curd
  • 6 medium sized onions
  • 3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1/2 cup Wheat flour/maida (all purpose flour - a finely milled, refined and bleached wheat flour)
  • 3 tbsp each of finely cut coriander and mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 1/2 tbsp biryani masala powder
  • 6 cashew nuts
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala (cardamom, cloves and cinnamon powder)
  • 1 tbsp whole cardamom, clove, mace (javitri), black cardamom, and cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 8-10 strands of saffron/saffron essence
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 small cucumber
A collection of some Ingredients that go into the recipe - clockwise from top left - garam masala, diced onions, potato halved, ginger, garlic, coriander and mint leaves
A collection of some Ingredients that go into the recipe - clockwise from top left - garam masala, diced onions, potato halved, ginger, garlic, coriander and mint leaves

Marinating the Chicken

Mix the chicken pieces in a bowl with 1 cup of curd, 1/2 tsp garam masala powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1 finely cut onion, 1 tbps ginger-garlic paste, peeled potatoes cut into half, 1 tbps biryani masala powder, 2 tbps each of coriander and mint leaves paste and salt (according to taste). Keep aside and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 5/6 hours, or even a whole day - the idea is that the longer the chickenb marinates, the better it gets.

Marinating the chicken
Marinating the chicken



  • Wash the rice and soak in water for an hour and then drain the water and keep aside

Chicken curry:

  • Cut 3 onions and 2 tomatoes finely or you make a paste of the onions and puree of the tomatoes

For the layering of the biryani (rice and curry):

  • Knead the wheat flour into a dough
  • Cut 1 tbps each of coriander and mint leaves finely
  • Cut 1 onion longitudinally and fry this in oil until it turns golden brown
  • Separate each cashew nut into halves and fry in oil until they turn golden brown
  • Soak the saffron strands in milk
  • If saffron strands are not available, use 1/4 tsp saffron essence in the milk (saffron or saffron essence enhances the flavor of the biryani, adding color to it but if you can't get either, go without it)
  • Melt the ghee

Garnishing for the biryani:

  • Cut 1 onion into rings
  • Cut the lemon into 4 pieces
  • Cut 1 tomato and 1 small cucumber into slices

Instructions for Cooking the Rice

  1. Take 2 tbps oil in the pan and heat it for about a minute on a medium flame - avoid heating on a high flame as it gives a charred taste to the rice later.
  2. Once the oil is heated, slow the flame and add 2 bay leaves. 1 tbsp of whole cardamom, clove, mace (javitri), black cardamom and cinnamon. Spices slow cooked, distribute an awesome flavor through the oil. As it splutters, add the rice.
  3. Fry the rice for a while till the water evaporates and the color changes slightly.
  4. Add 4 cups of warm water to it and salt according to taste. I would suggest you against adding cold water to the rice here as it would take longer to cook the rice.
  5. Cook till the rice is 80% done.

Boiling the frying rice with whole spices
Boiling the frying rice with whole spices
80% Cooked rice
80% Cooked rice

Instruction for Cooking the Chicken Curry/Masala

  1. Take 4 tbps oil in a pan and heat it on a medium fire.
  2. Slow the flame and add 2 bay leaves, onions and tomatoes and fry for 5 minutes and raise the flame to medium till onions turn golden brown and tomatoes get tender.
  3. Add 1 cup curd, 2 tbps of ginger-garlic paste, 1 1/2 tbps biryani masala, 1/2 tsp chili powder.
  4. Add potatoes and fry for 5 minutes on a medium flame - the spices blend into the potato this way.
  5. Add marinated chicken and stir for 10 minutes on a medium flame which again helps in the blending of the spices between the marinated chicken and the cooking gravy.
  6. Add 1 cup of water and add salt according to your preference.
  7. Cook till the chicken pieces are tender and add 1 tsp garam masala powder and stir it - this further enhances the flavor of the curry/masala. Cover the pan and switch off the flame after 5 minutes and keep aside.

Frying the onions, spices and tomatoes
Frying the onions, spices and tomatoes
Adding spice, mint, yogurt and coriander leaves to biryani masala
Adding spice, mint, yogurt and coriander leaves to biryani masala
Mixing chicken in the masala
Mixing chicken in the masala

Layering the biryani (rice and curry - off the flame)

  1. Divide the cooked rice into 3 equal portions and the curry into 2 equal portions.
  2. Take a heavy bottomed, big pot, spread 1 portion of rice at the bottom of the pot - the heavy bottom pot retains the vapors within it.
  3. Over the rice, spread 4 cashew nuts, some coriander and mint leaves, some fried onions, one-third portion of the 1/4 cup of saffron milk/saffron essence, one third portion of the 2 tbps ghee.
  4. Add 1 portion of the chicken gravy to the above.
  5. Add 2nd portion of rice to this.
  6. Repeat Step 3 over this 2nd portion of rice.
  7. Add the 2nd and last portion of the chicken gravy to the above.
  8. Add the 3rd and last portion of rice.
  9. Repeat Step 3 over the 3rd portion of rice.
  10. Spread the kneaded dough all over the edges of the pot and cover it with a lid tightly so that the essence of the biryani remains within the pot (refer to the image of the sealed pot with the dough over its edges for a clearer idea if you need to).

The layered biryani pot sealed with dough
The layered biryani pot sealed with dough

Heating the Biryani Pot (on Dum - in its own heat)

  1. Put a flat pan (or tawa) on a medium flame and place the pot of layered biryani over it. Do not keep the pot directly on the flame as it will most likely burn the biryani.
  2. After 10 minutes, slow the fire and heat it on low flame for 15 minutes and switch off the heat and keep the biryani pot on the pan as it is for 15 minutes so that the vapors of the spices and the masala infuse within the biryani
  3. After this, open the lid and remove the dough from over the edges and cover it with the lid immediately so that the vapor does not escape from within the pot.
  4. The Delicious Shahi Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani is now ready.

Biryani served with  onion rings, cucumber and tomato slices and lemon wedges
Biryani served with onion rings, cucumber and tomato slices and lemon wedges
Biryani is served with raita
Biryani is served with raita

Serving the Biryani with Condiments

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani is served with onion rings, tomato slices, cucumber slices and lemon wedges/pieces as condiments or raita - raita can be made with 3/4 cup of beaten curd, 1/2 grated cucumber, 1/2 finely cut onion and 1/2 tomato finely cut, with salt, pepper and roasted cumin powder


Preparing and cooking the Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani in an authentic shahi (royal) style is nothing but short of an art and shortchanging this will result in a rice dish that is anything but what we desire, eg a fried or masala rice.

I love making this dish every time and sharing it with my family and friends, delving deep into its aromatic, flavorful and tasty splendour. I hope you have as good a time as I have with this amazing Delicious Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani. So do try this out and enjoy.

4.5 stars from 2 ratings of Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani Recipe


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    • infobizboard profile imageAUTHOR

      Sameer Chowdhury 

      3 years ago from Pune, India

      Glad you liked it. Agree about the cashews - more the better.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      shahi biryani excellent i think more cashewnuts badam kaju is added on shahi biryani


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