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Chicken biryani - AKA Christmas lunch part 2

Written By Reena on 18 Dec 2009 | 05:00

Last week I shared the first part of the chicken biryani recipe with you (chicken and yoghurt curry).  The first part isn't too time consuming but from here it starts to sap your energy.  I do think that it is worth sticking with though as you will really enjoy the results - whether or not you choose to serve it on Christmas day.  I should probably mention that we are more traditional and serve roast chicken for Christmas dinner; we especially like Nigel Slater's chicken with forty cloves of garlic - yum!

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons light tasting vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions - sliced into thin strips
  • 300 grams rice
  • 2 large floury potatoes - cut into chunky chips
  • Oil
  • Salt
  • Chilli powder
  • 10 grams butter
  • Yoghurt and chicken curry
  • A handful of coriander - chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a pan.  Then add the sliced onions and let them cook on a lowish heat until they are soft and golden.  At this point turn up the heat a little and let them turn a dark brown colour.  Stir regularly to stop them sticking to the bottom of your pan.  You can't rush this process; expect it to take in the region of one hour.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. 
  3. Place the rice in a large bowl and rinse the rice to remove the starch.  Soak for thirty minutes.
  4. Drain the water from the rice and then add enough fresh water such that the waterline is approximately 2 centimetres above the top of the rice. Now place in the microwave and cook uncovered on full power for 10 minutes. At this point the rice should be starting to become fluffy but still have a crunch to it. If the rice seems too crunchy, put it back in the microwave for a minute or too. Take care not to overcook. If there is any excess water drain it away.
  5. In the meantime deep fry the potato wedges to create golden brown chips.  I generally avoid deep frying but I tried other methods of cooking the potatoes and they just don't work so well with the biryani.  If you really are averse to deep frying then omit the potatoes entirely.  I however love the comforting texture of two different carbohydrates mixed together and think that a biryani without chips is like a night without stars (or something).  Cover a plate with kitchen roll and let the chips drain on it.  The aim is to remove as much of the grease as possible.  Sprinkle them with some salt and chilli powder.  Leave the chips to one side.
  6. Place the butter in a large ovenproof dish.  Put the dish in the oven to melt the butter.
  7. Transfer three ladle-fulls of the yoghurt and chicken curry into a separate pan and put to one side.  This should be enough for you and your partner to enjoy when all of your guests have gone home!
  8. If the curry is very cold, heat the remaining curry.  When hot, add the rice, potatoes and onions.  Taking care not to break the rice, mix everything together such that all of the grains of rice are coated in the curry and the onions, potatoes and chicken pieces are evenly distributed.  If it looks too dry then steal some more sauce from the curry that you have put to one side.
  9. Now pour the biryani into the ovenproof dish.  Cover and place in the oven for 10 minutes.  
  10. Turn down the heat to 150 degrees Celsius and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  11. Switch off the oven and leave the biryani to stand inside it for a further 10 minutes.
  12. The biryani should be piping hot and the odd grain of rice at the edges should have become slightly crusty.
  13. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with a salad.  If you are lucky enough to have any left over, it will taste even better the next day.

About Reena


  1. Hi Reena

    Sampled your Chicken Biryani Recipe, courtesy of your in-laws (Joan & Bryan). Excellent!

    Ken & Kathleen

  2. Hi Ken and Kathleen. Lovely to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed it! All the best. Reena

  3. Week 4: I am getting good at this now. Ignoring the marinate the night before I managed to complete the whole yoghurt chicken and biryani in under 2 hours and it didn't fail to deliver. My wife had dreams of an Italian restaurant, keep going east sweetheart

  4. Hi Andrew. Poor Mrs Schaefer. Glad you liked it and I'm impressed by your speediness! Reena