This Quick and Easy Chicken Biryani recipe uses diced chicken and prepared ginger paste to put this delicious and satisfying dish on the dinner table in no time flat!
Other than Thai food, there’s no cuisine I find myself craving more often than Indian.
I’d love to make it three nights per week (the other four reserved for Thai food, of course), but I don’t always have the time to make a complicated dish when I’m already 100% hangry.
For those nights, I love making this Indian Potato Chickpea Stew (on the table in 30 minutes), this Creamy Cashew Chicken Curry (another half-hour miracle dish), and today’s recipe, a simple Chicken Biryani recipe (just 45 minutes start-to-finish).
What is Chicken Biryani?
Chicken Biryani is a delicious chicken curry dish cooked with rice. There are various versions of Biryani, some vegetarian, and some with various meats, including chicken, beef, lamb, goat, shrimp or fish. This is a very popular dish in India, but is also made in various forms across the Indian subcontinent, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Wikipedia notes that Biryani is the most online ordered dish in India!
- 1 Tbsp ghee – or vegetable oil
- 1 ½ pounds boneless – skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion – chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper – seeded and minced
- 3 Tbsp prepared ginger paste
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 2 large tomatoes – chopped
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 1 cup uncooked basmati rice
- 2 ¼ cups low-sodium chicken broth*
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- ¼ cup sliced unsalted almonds
- 1 lime – cut into wedges
How to Make Chicken Biryani
Assemble the ingredients, for the exact amounts see the recipe card below.
In this quick biryani recipe, chicken breasts are diced into small pieces before hitting the pan, which cuts down cooking time. Using chicken breasts instead of chicken thighs makes this an easy to eat, boneless chicken biryani!
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or frying pan. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken pieces and let them cook, undisturbed, for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.
Turn the chicken pieces and add the onion, jalapeno, ginger, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Sauté for 3 minutes, or until the onions have softened.
Add the garlic, tomatoes, and raisins to the pan. Stir well, then add the rice and broth.
Allow the liquid to come to a boil, then cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat down to medium-low. Cook the rice for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Re-cover the pan, and allow the rice to continue to steam for another 10 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro leaves and almond slices.
Serve the Biryani straight out of the pot into bowls, accompanied by lime wedges for squeezing.
Since rice is a main ingredient, using basmati rice is key to a high quality biryani.
I love using fresh ginger root whenever possible, but I don’t always have a good chunk of it on hand. Dried or powdered ginger does a poor job of replicating the spicy and fragrant taste of fresh ginger, so I like to keep a tube of prepared ginger paste in the door of my refrigerator.
This simple biryani tastes completely freaking amazing with a dollop of mango chutney thrown on top.
You can also serve this with homemade Indian Naan Bread.
There are many variations to the Chicken Biryani recipe. Here are some common ones you can try:
- Use different proteins: Substitute chicken with lamb, beef, shrimp, or a mix of vegetables such as cauliflower, green peas, and potatoes for a vegetarian version.
- Use different rice varieties: Instead of basmati rice, you can use other long-grain rice varieties or even short-grain rice like jasmine or sushi rice. Remember that cooking times and liquid ratios may vary depending on the rice type.
- Add other vegetables: Include bell peppers, green beans, or carrots to the biryani to enhance its flavor and add more nutrients.
- Adjust spices: Experiment with other Indian spices like coriander powder, red chili powder, or fennel seeds. You can also add saffron soaked in warm milk to give the dish a rich aroma and color.
- Add yogurt: Mix in some plain yogurt when you add the tomatoes to give the dish a creamy, tangy flavor.
- Layering technique: Instead of cooking everything together, you can layer partially cooked rice with the chicken mixture and steam them together. This method is more traditional and can yield more aromatic results.
- Use whole spices: Instead of using ground spices, you can use whole spices such as cinnamon sticks, black cardamom pods, cloves, and black peppercorns. This will give the dish a more rich flavor.
- Add dried fruits: Substitute or add to the golden raisins with other dried fruits like apricots or dates for a different taste and texture.
- Garnish variations: Garnish the biryani with fried onions, mint leaves, or pomegranate seeds for added flavor and visual appeal.
- Add eggs: Hard-boiled eggs can be added to the biryani as a protein source and for an additional layer of flavor.
Remember, you can mix and match these variations to create your own unique Chicken Biryani recipe. Enjoy experimenting and finding the perfect combination for your taste preferences!
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers when making this Quick and Easy Chicken Biryani recipe:
Yes, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs or bone-in chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts in this rice dish. Chicken thighs tend to be more flavorful and juicy, but they will take longer to cook than chicken breasts.
If you don’t have ginger paste, you can use freshly grated ginger or finely minced ginger as a substitute. Use the same amount (3 tablespoons) as the recipe calls for.
To make the dish spicier, you can add more jalapeno peppers or include their seeds, or use a spicier pepper like serrano or Thai bird’s eye chili. You can also increase the amount of garam masala or add some red chili powder. To make the dish milder, reduce the amount of jalapeno pepper or exclude it entirely, and decrease the amount of garam masala.
If you don’t have ghee, you can use vegetable oil, canola oil, or even unsalted butter as a substitute. Keep in mind that using butter may slightly alter the flavor profile of the dish.
Yes, you can use a rice cooker for this recipe. First, cook the chicken and other ingredients in a skillet as instructed, then transfer them to the rice cooker along with the rice and broth. Cook according to your rice cooker’s instructions for cooking long-grain basmati rice.
Rinsing basmati rice before cooking is recommended to remove excess starch and prevent the rice from being too sticky. Rinse the rice under cold water in a fine-mesh strainer until the water runs clear.
If your rice is not fully cooked after following the recipe instructions, you can add a bit more liquid (chicken broth or water) and continue to cook it, covered, on low heat. Check and stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cooking times may vary depending on the type of rice and individual stovetops.
Storing and Reheating
To store leftover Chicken Biryani in the refrigerator, follow these steps:
1. Allow the Chicken Biryani to cool down: Give the dish some time to cool down to room temperature, but do not leave it out for more than two hours, as this can encourage bacterial growth.
2. Use an airtight container: Transfer the cooled Chicken Biryani into an airtight container or divide it into smaller portions if you prefer. Using an airtight container will help prevent the dish from drying out and absorbing other odors from the refrigerator.
3. Label the container: It’s a good practice to label the container with the name of the dish and the date it was prepared. This will help you keep track of how long it has been stored and when it should be consumed.
4. Store in the refrigerator: Place the airtight container with the Chicken Biryani in the refrigerator. Leftovers can be safely stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
To store leftover Chicken Biryani in the freezer, follow these steps:
1. Allow the Chicken Biryani to cool down: Let the dish cool down to room temperature, but do not leave it out for more than two hours, as this can encourage bacterial growth.
2. Use freezer-safe containers or bags: Transfer the cooled Chicken Biryani into freezer-safe airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. You can also divide it into smaller portions for easier thawing and reheating later.
3. Leave some space for expansion: When using containers, leave about ½ inch (1.25 cm) of space at the top to allow for expansion during freezing.
4. Label the containers or bags: Write the name of the dish and the date it was prepared on the containers or bags. This will help you keep track of how long it has been stored and when it should be consumed.
5. Store in the freezer: Place the airtight containers or bags with the Chicken Biryani in the freezer. Leftovers can be safely stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.
If you have frozen the Chicken Biryani, then thaw before reheating. When you’re ready to enjoy the leftovers, remove the desired portion from the freezer and let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight or use the defrost setting on your microwave.
Once thawed, reheat the Chicken Biryani either in a microwave, on the stovetop, or in the oven until it’s heated through. Add a little water or chicken broth if the dish has dried out during storage.
More Favorite Indian Recipes to Try:
- Baked Beef Samosas
- Indian Mulligatawny Soup
- Indian Chicken Korma
- Red Lentil Dal
- Creamy Vegetable Korma
- Roasted Bombay Potatoes
- Vegan Indian Sweet Potato Soup
Quick and Easy Chicken Biryani Recipe
- 1 tablespoon ghee - or vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless - skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubes
- 1 medium yellow onion - chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper - seeded and minced
- 3 Tablespoons prepared ginger paste
- 2 teaspoons garam masala powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 large tomatoes - chopped
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup uncooked long-grain basmati rice
- 2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth*
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup sliced unsalted almonds
- 1 lime - cut into wedges
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large nonstick skillet or frying pan. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chicken pieces and let them cook undisturbed for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.
- Turn the chicken pieces and add the onion, jalapeno, ginger, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, and salt. Sauté for 3 minutes or until the onions have softened.
- Add 1 tbsp minced garlic, tomatoes, and raisins to the pan. Stir well, then add the rice and broth.
- Allow the liquid to come to a boil, then cover the pan with lid and turn the heat down to medium-low. Let the rice steam for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and fluff the rice with a fork. Re-cover the pan and allow the rice to continue to steam for another 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle cilantro leaves and almond slices on top for garnish.
- Serve the Biryani straight out of the pan, accompanied by lime wedges for squeezing. You can also serve this dish with Naan Bread.
Old photo for fun.