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Weekday chicken biryani - a quick alternative with authentic flavours

Weekday chicken biryani - a quick alternative with authentic flavours

I thankfully received the package of lunch, that was arranged for us as the train geared to depart from the station. The package had a box of rice, a packet of raita, and a third box with dazzling golden liquid in it. I had always heard about biriyani, but never did I have one until we left Hyderabad station that day. That was the first time I ever went to Hyderabad, and also the first time I had biriyani - I was lucky! I had an instant love for biriyani, and soon thereafter it was included in our regular restaurant orders, besides paneer butter masala and chilli chicken.


Over the years, I taught myself how to cook biriyani and received an advice or two, all contributing to perfect it one day. I don't think I have gotten there, mainly because it takes time, technique, and patience. I may have one of those, but all three in combination is hard to achieve. I have settled for an intermediate compromise, and I am happy, only because biriyani can be a weeknight delight and not just a holiday occupation. After a long day at work, I seek comfort on the plate, and if possible, in the least amount of time. This recipe of chicken biriyani saves me on some of those days. If I was cooking for my Mom, I'd simply do a vegetarian version.


Luckily that day the dusk was dry and comfortable, so we enjoyed this plate of comfort in our balcony. Bon apetit!


chicken marinated in a mix of aromatic spices and yogurt
A creamy onion paste, that goes into making the best chicken curry for the biriyani
garam masala, a mix of whole aromatic spices that give any indian recipe the flavour that they have. Biriyani is no exception to that.
Chicken curry, a spicy onion based aromatic chicken curry that give a chicken biriyani that distinct flavour
an easy chicken biriyani recipe is ideal for weeknights, when one has a little time but deserves all that comfort.


Serves: 4

Time to prepare: 20 minutes

Time to cook: 60 minutes (mostly oven time)


  1. 2 large red onions - 1 thinly sliced, and the other blended into a fine paste
  2. 2 tbsp minced ginger & garlic
  3. 2 tomatoes - pureed/blended
  4. 250g chicken thigh
  5. 1/2 cup low fat yogurt
  6. 1 star anise
  7. 4-5 cloves
  8. 2 pods of cardamom
  9. Mace, or a tsp of nutmeg as a substitute would work just fine
  10. 2 tbsp garam masala
  11. 1 tsp cumin powder
  12. 1 tsp coriander powder
  13. 1 tbsp turmeric
  14. 2 tbsp lime juice
  15. 2 cups basmati rice
  16. 1/2 cup mint leaves
  17. A few strands of saffron
  18. 1/4 cup warm milk
  19. 8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  20. 4 cups of water
  21. Salt to taste


  1. Clean the chicken pieces and chop into bite size cubes. Marinate overnight, or for at least 20 minutes in a mixture of yoghurt, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, salt, and lime juice.
  2. Clean the rice and soak in warm water for 20 minutes
  3. Add the saffron to warm milk and set aside for the aroma of saffron to infuse in milk.
  4. Heat some oil in a skillet and stir the onion slices in until they turn brown. Set aside.
  5. Add some more oil in the same skillet and add the whole spices (6-9) and onion paste. Cook while stirring occasionally for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cover and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. 
  6. Add the chicken along with all the marinade, add a cup of water, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  7. In a microwave safe dish, layer the biryani. The first layer is usually rice, followed by a layer of chicken curry, and a few leaves of mint, some of the fried onion, and a teaspoon of the saffron milk. Repeat until all the rice and curry is layered up. Top it with the remaining onion, add 3 cups of water, and microwave at 750 watts for 15 minutes.
  8. Enjoy!
Upma - I want it for breakfast!

Upma - I want it for breakfast!

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