Chicken biryani

Many people make a mutton biryani, but a chicken version is lower in fat and quicker to cook.

Ready in

2 hours 45 mins, plus 1 hour marinating time or overnight

Serving size

Serves 8



  • 3 chicken breasts on the bone, skin and all fat removed
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) each cumin seeds and chilli powder
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) tomato paste
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 green chilli, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup (250 ml) plain low-fat yoghurt or buttermilk


  • 2 cups (500 ml) uncooked brown rice
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) salt
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cup (250 ml) uncooked brown lentils
  • 3 potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) turmeric
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) sunflower oil
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup (125 ml) boiling water


  1. Marinade: Cut chicken breasts into chunky pieces. Mix all the marinade ingredients together.
  2. Stir chicken into marinade and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Rice: Place rice, ½ tsp of the salt, cinnamon and cardamom with enough water in a pot. Simmer until the rice is cooked and drain.
  4. Meanwhile, cook lentils in a separate pot with enough water until tender and drain.
  5. Boil potatoes with the rest of the salt and a pinch of the turmeric until tender. Drain
  6. Heat oil in a large pot and fry onions until tender. Keep half the onions for garnish.
  7. Add chicken to onions in the pot and fry for a few minutes. Add marinade, reduce heat and cover with a lid. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Place potatoes in a layer over the chicken. Spoon the lentils and rice in layers on top.
  9. Mix the turmeric with the boiling water and pour over the rice.
  10. Spoon the fried onions on top. Cover with a lid and steam over a very low heat for 15 minutes or until heated through.
  11. Serve with fresh coriander, a spoonful of plain low-fat yoghurt and salad.

This recipe is from Cooking from the heart, 1st edition

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