Because I apparently like suffering in the kitchen in tropical Singapore, I set aside a full morning to make this chicken dum biryani and vegetable dum biryani simultaneously. While it may seem like a LOT of work, which it is, a lot of the preparation work can be done in one go, like slicing onions, soaking and cooking the rice, grinding the garlic, ginger, and chillies, soaking the saffron, etc.
Ironically, making chicken dum biryani is quicker and easier than the vegetarian version because of a lot less cleaning and chopping of vegetables. The only thing that needs some advance preparation is the marination of the chicken, a step I would not recommend skipping because that’s what make the chicken super tender and hold its own when dum cooking the biryani.
If you really want to prepare this chicken dum biryani recipe the right way, I have one request. Even if you may not be the hugest fan of spending a lot of time in the kitchen, do not skip any steps mentioned here. To prepare better and save time, I’d follow these steps in order.
– Marinate the chicken the night before you are making the biryani
– Next day, wash and soak the rice first for 30 minutes
– When the rice is soaking, chop the onions, grind the spices, soak some saffron in warm milk, etc
– Start frying the onions. This takes some time so keep the flame medium-low and check back as you simultaneously move to the next step
– Cook the rice in an open pot in boiling water with some added spices and salt
– Check on the onions and when fried, drain and set aside. Fry cashew nuts and raisins in the same ghee
– Check the rice and drain in a colander once done
– Bring our your marinated chicken
– Layer rice, chicken, saffron milk, mint, coriander, and cook on a very low flame using dum method
Alright then, we are all set for the detailed recipe on how to make chicken dum biryani, so let’s get right to it.
- 1 cup basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes
- 300 grams chicken, skinned and cut into pieces (with bone is better)
- ½ cup ghee (to use as needed)
- 1 cup sliced onions
- ¼ cup cashew nuts
- 3 tbsp raisins
- 3 tbsp warm milk
- A pinch saffron
- ¼ cup chopped mint leaves
- ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
- ½ cup plain curd (yogurt)
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ¼ tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ¼ cup chopped mint leaves
- 3 flakes of garlic
- 2" piece of ginger
- 2 green chillies (optional, adjust to taste)
- ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 4 cardamom pods (just use the seeds)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2" piece of cinnamon
- 1 mace flower (javithri)
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- ¼ tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera)
- 5 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 1 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp oil
- Salt as needed
- Wash the chicken pieces
- In a blender or mixer jar, add all the ingredients needed for marination + salt
- Grind coarsely and add to the chicken pieces
- Mix well and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight
- Wash and soak 1 cup basmati rice in enough water to completely cover it for 30 minutes
- In the meantime, chop your onions and powder the spice masala
- Soak a pinch of saffron in 3 tbsp warm milk and set aside
- Heat ¼ cup ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid. This is the same pan we will use to cook the dum biryani
- Add the sliced onions and keep flame at medium-low. Stir frequently to ensure even frying.
- While the onions are frying, keep water in a large pot for cooking the rice
- Bring the water to a rolling boil and add 1 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera), 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp oil, and some salt
- Add the soaked rice to this and cook on medium-high heat until the rice is ¾ cooked. When you take out one grain and bite into it, it shouldn't be mushy or cooked fully
- While the rice is cooking, keep an eye on the onions and drain when they are fully dark brown
- In the same ghee, fry the cashew nuts, drain and then fry the raisins and drain
- The rice should now be done. Drain the rice in a colander and fluff it with a fork
- Now, in the same pan used for frying the onions, top up the remaining ¼ cup ghee (see notes)
- Add the marinated chicken pieces and mix well
- Now add the freshly ground whole spices spices or biryani masala. I added about 2 tbsp of it
- Fry for 30 seconds
- Add 1 tbsp each of chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves on top
- Layer the cooked rice over the chicken and top up with fried onion, cashew nuts, raisins, coriander leaves, and mint leaves
- Pour the saffron milk mixture on top
- There are different methods to ensure we provide a dum cooking environment for the biryani
- I used aluminium foil and closely covered the cooking pan, taking care of the handle area first
- Then, I closed the pan tightly with its lid
- Keep the heat to lowest possible and cook for about 15-20 minutes
- Alternate methods - you can use a clean, damp kitchen towel to cover the cooking pan
- You can also layer the ingredients in a baking dish, cover with aluminium foil, and bake at 320F / 160C for 15 minutes
- Once done, uncover and gently combine the layers so that the spices get mixed with the rice
- Serve chicken dum biryani with raita and mirchi ka salan
Step by Step Chicken Dum Biryani Recipe
Wash the chicken pieces and place in a bowl or a ziplock bag. I find ziplock bags great to marinate meat because its flexible and the marinade gets into the pieces much better
Add to the chicken pieces, mix well, and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for about 8 hours or overnight
Next morning, wash and soak 1 cup basmati rice in enough water to completely cover it for 30 minutes
In the meantime, chop your onions
and powder the spices for biryani masala coarsely
Soak a pinch of saffron in 3 tbsp warm milk and set aside
Heat 1/4 cup ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid. This is the same pan we will use to cook the dum biryani
Add the sliced onions and keep flame at medium-low. Stir frequently to ensure even frying (ignore that the pans are different, I made vegetable dum biryani and chicken dum biryani simultaneously and did a bunch of prep work in conjunction)
While the onions are frying, keep water in a large pot for cooking the rice. Bring the water to a rolling boil and add 1 tsp caraway seeds (shahjeera), 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp oil, and some salt
Add the soaked rice to this.
Cook on medium-high heat until the rice is 3/4 cooked. When you take out one grain and bite into it, it shouldn’t be mushy or cooked fully
While the rice is cooking, keep an eye on the onions and drain when they are fully dark brown
In the same ghee, fry the cashew nuts, drain and then fry the raisins and drain.
Set aside until needed.
The rice should now be done. Drain the rice in a colander and fluff it with a fork
Now, in the same pan used for frying the onions, top up the remaining 1/4 cup ghee (see notes). Add the marinated chicken pieces and mix well.
Let this cook for 30 seconds. Then add the freshly ground whole spices spices or biryani masala and fry for another minute or so.
Add 1 tbsp each of chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves on top. Mix well to combine.
Layer the cooked rice over the chicken. Yes, the chicken is still raw, our dum cooking will cook it perfectly in about 15-20 minutes so this is fine.
Top up with fried onion, cashew nuts, raisins, coriander leaves, and mint leaves
Pour the saffron milk mixture on top
There are different methods to ensure we provide a dum cooking environment for the biryani. I used aluminium foil and closely covered the cooking pan, taking care of the handle area first
Then, I closed the pan tightly with its lid
Keep the heat to lowest possible and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Since the lid wasn’t super tight, I placed some weight over it.
Cook on very low flame for 15-20 minutes.
Once done, uncover and gently combine the layers so that the spices get mixed with the rice
– Adjust chilli powder and green chilli to your taste when marinating the chicken. This amount makes a reasonably spicy biryani which suits our palates. The other spices I have used is also on the heavy side so adjust accordingly for a milder flavour
– The amount of ghee in this recipe is generous. I usually add this much to ensure the biryani doesn’t get burned at the bottom during dum cooking and also so it stores well. You can add lesser or even add 1/2 ghee + 1/2 oil
– Do not skip soaking the rice. Soaking basmati rice ensures that it absorbs water during the soaking process and not too much during the cooking process which ensures more evenly cooked, firmer rice grains that remain separate. The best basmati rice for biryani, in my experience, is Kohinoor or India Gate
– Do not skip the fried onions. It’s absolutely essential to bring the right flavour to dum biryani or any biryani for that matter
– The raisins are optional. My mom also adds chopped pineapple sometimes.
– The spices you use for making the biryani masala is up to you. I would recommend to use cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaf as a bare minimum.
– The caraway seeds (shahjeera) have a stronger flavour than cumin and taste great in biryani. If you don’t have any or don’t want to use them, you can just add more cumin to the spice powder and while cooking the rice (or simply omit it)
– Make sure to season the rice with salt when cooking it. This way you can ensure the biryani will be more uniformly salted
– Add some lime juice at the end for some sourness. My chicken dum biryani recipe doesn’t include tomatoes but you can add some to the vegetables while they cook if you prefer
– Do not skimp on coriander and mint leaves. Buy them fresh and use generously.
For chicken dum biryani in Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Urdu, Marathi, etc please use the Google translate button in the sidebar
If you try this biryani recipe, please leave a comment below to let me know your thoughts. You can also share pictures on Twitter and Instagram and tag them with #ediblegarden – I’d love to check them out!