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Chicken Breyani Recipe

All the components, ready to start layering.

Chicken Breyani is a delicious Indian rice dish which made with of spices, moist marinated chicken and vegetables. Breyani is a much loved dish and the hard work which it takes to cook a traditional Breyani is much appreciated by all who are lucky enough to eat your master creation.

Whilst it may seem like a really difficult dish to prepare, if you follow the steps and work methodically, then it really is not that hard. The photos here are from the first one which I ever made. I learnt quite a lot and really look forward to cooking the next one. Enjoy.

I would really appreciate any advice, tips or tricks in the comments below. Much appreciated.


  • 3 cups rice
  • ¼ cup brown lentils
  • 1 full chicken, cut into pieces and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons ginger and garlic paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 green chilli, cut lengthwise
  • 1 black elachi
  • 1 dried red chilli
  • 1 aniseed
  • 1 sprig curry leaf
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A pinch of fennel (soomph) seeds
  • A pinch of cumin (jeera) seeds
  • 6-7  mint leaves
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter)
  • 2 onions (1 sliced and the other grated)
  • ½ tomato, grated
  • 2 sprigs spring onions
  • 2 ½ tablespoons hot curry powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of mixed cumin (jeera) and coriander (dhania) powders
  • 2 teaspoons of chilli powder
  • 3mls of turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 potatoes
  • A few drops of yellow food colour
  • Sour milk
  • 50g margarine


  • Fry 1 sliced onion in a pan of margarine.
  • Marinate the chicken by combining together ½ a sprig each of curry leave, spring onion, sour milk, thyme, red chilli, 3 leaves of mint, curry powder, chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander and cumin powder, ginger and garlic paste and a teaspoon of fried onions.
  • Refrigerate the marinated chicken until required.
  • Cook the rice in salted water until done.
  • Drain out the rice by removing the excess water.
  • Place ¾ of the rice in a bowl and add a few drops of yellow food colour to turn the rice a pale yellow.
  • Boil the lentils in water with added salt to taste.
  • In a large bowl add in peeled potatoes that have already been cut into quarters.
  • Stir in a few drops of yellow food colouring and salt to taste.
  • Mix well to ensure an even distribution of colour.
  • In a pan deep fry the potatoes on a reduced heat until it has a crisp outer layer.
  • Heat the oil in a pot.
  • Add ½ of the amount of grated onion, ghee, cumin and coriander seeds, ½ a sprig each of thyme, spring onion and curry leaf.
  • Also stir in the remainder of the mint leaves, cinnamon stick, elachi and bay leaf.
  • Allow the ingredients to simmer in the oil.
  • When the onion’s appears transparent, and turns a pale golden colour, add in the marinated chicken.
  • Add salt to taste and mix well.
  •  The chicken should simmer for 5-8 minutes on a reduced heat until it is fried through.
  •  Add in the remainder of the grated onion, curry leaves and tomato.
  •  Allow the curry to cook out well.
  •  A little water can be added if the curry holds at the base of the pot.
  •  Once the chicken has cooked through completely, remove the curry from the stove top and garnish with coriander.

Setting of the breyani (Layering)

  • In a large pot place enough yellow coloured rice to cover the base of the pot.
  • Add in the entire amount of curry.
  • Layer a generous quantity of chopped coriander and fried onions.
  • Reserve a tablespoon of fried onions to garnish the last layer.
  • Add in ½ the amount of lentils.
  • Add a layer of white rice alternating with yellow rice and lentils.
  • Reserve a tablespoon of rice and colour it a dark yellowish red colour (using yellow food colour).
  • On the last layer, add the fried onions, chopped coriander and the yellowish red rice.
  • Seal the pot with foil and cover with the lid.
  • Place this pot into a larger pot of water.
  • Cover and steam on moderate heat for 30-45 minutes.

Serve hot with an accompaniment of ‘raita’ (a cucumber and yoghurt based salad). Serves four-five adults.

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