Chicken Dum Biryani

“Some memories are unforgettable, remaining ever vivid and heartwarming.” -J.B. Wirthlin

Chicken Dum Biryani

Often we can remember exactly what we were doing or where we were or how we were feeling before major life events. Some of those moments for me include the day I moved from Florida, the evening I met my husband, my last sleep before getting married, the first popcorn like feelings of Little Mirchi moving and the second she was placed in my arms. Similarly, I recall the night before Little Mirchi was born as if it was yesterday, the excitement, anxiousness, the love – everything is still so fresh. The Husband and my mom were watching a marathon of Bollywood movies ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ (1 & 2) and I was in full nesting mode, insisting they let me be in the kitchen; my happy place to make Chicken Dum Biryani. It wasn’t the first time I had made this Biryani, but ever since that night, it has officially become a part of Little Mirchi’s birth story.

Chicken Dum Biryani


Biryani is a casserole type meal made with meat, rice and spices. It’s a special dish that’s often made for guests, at weddings and celebratory occasions. There are many ways of making the dish and the spices, methods, proteins used vary regionally across India. ‘Dum’ in cooking, means to cook with steam. This recipe incorporates cooked chicken with al dente rice that’s covered and baked until the rice has fully cooked from the steam. Ironically enough, Chicken Dum Biryani was the dish my mom made when my brother first met my husband during our courtship. It was also one of the first dishes I made for The Husband (looking back I don’t know how he ate my food then; I’ve come a long way!)

Chicken Dum Biryani

As with most Indian meat and gravy dishes, this gets better with time. We look forward to left overs as the spices soak in the rice and flavors deeply develop. Because this is a bit of a time consuming recipe (completely worth the efforts I assure you) I generally make it in large batches, dividing one for now and one for later in the week. It also  reheats wonderfully and can be made ahead of time.

Sticking with tradition I’m sharing this recipe a day before Little Mirchi’s birthday.

Chicken Dum BiryaniHow to make Chicken Dum Biryani

Chicken Dum Biryani
Cook time
Total time
An Indian biryani recipe of long grain basmati rice layered with chicken and fragrant spices.
Recipe type: Mains
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 whole chicken (3-4lbs) (cut into 2 inch pieces)
  • 3½ cups basmati rice
  • 2 large onions; thinly sliced
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 4-5 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 green chili pepper; slit in middle
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon red chili powder
  • 3 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 teaspoon salt; adjust to taste
  • 7-8 saffron strands (soaked in 4 tablespoons warm milk & 1 teaspoon rose water)
  • 1 tablespoon whole tamarind (soaked in tablespoon of water)
  • 3 tablespoon cooking oil
  1. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, crushed fennel seeds, ginger garlic paste, red chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, and turmeric – set aside for at least an hour.
  2. In a large heavy bottom pan, heat oil (on medium heat). Add the green chili pepper, cumin, black peppercorns, cloves, three cardamom pods, one bay leaf and one cinnamon stick.
  3. Once spices start sputtering add the onions, mix and cook until translucent. Add two teaspoons salt and crushed tomatoes, simmer until the liquids reduce. Once reduced add chicken and let cook for 25-30 minutes – mix in garam masala once cooked.
  4. In a large pot add rice, one teaspoon salt, three cardamoms, one bay leaf, one cinnamon stick and star anise in eight cups of water. Bring to a boil until rice is cooked al dente (one boil should be enough.) Strain water and set aside.
  1. Add the par cooked rice on top of the cooked chicken. Tuck in the pre soaked tamarind evenly within the rice. Spoon on the saffron milk and liberally top with fried onions. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 15 minutes. Keep covered for another 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve hot with yogurt or raita. Enjoy
  1. In a deep baking dish start with the chicken as the first layer, the next layer should be the rice, spoon the saffron milk over the rice and spread the pre soaked tamarind evenly in the dish; continue this layering with rice being the final layer. Cover the baking dish and bake in a 400 F preheated oven for 45 minutes. Once done, let sit for 10-15 minutes before topping liberally with fried onions and chopped cilantro. Serve hot with yogurt or raita. Enjoy


Chicken Dum Biryani


Chicken Dum Biryani Chicken Dum Biryani

20 thoughts on “Chicken Dum Biryani

  1. Nisha! We really are soul sisters! I’ve been tinkering with my Hyderabi Dum Biryani recipe for weeks. The only thing is I’m using the atta around the vessel method and not quite getting the water to rice ratio right. Will try yours out very soon 🙂

  2. I just recently had the most amazing Biryani last weekend and I think I’m seriously hooked!! I’m a little nervous to try to make it on my own… I some how always mess up the spices, but I might to give a veggie version of your recipe a try! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Reshma, I have a veggie pulao recipe you would love if you are vegetarian! I will try and post it soon 🙂

  3. I love your recipes. They have turned out amazing ! One question: can you make the rice in instant pot? If so, typical cooking time? Thanks !!

    1. Thank you! While I don’t cook it in the IP you certainly can! General rule of thumb is 1 cup of rice cooks in about 4 minutes on high pressure. For Biryani you could do 3 minutes as you don’t want it to be fully cooked.

      1. Hi Nisha! I’m looking forward to trying this recipe after making your kadhi. What do you mean about making this in big batches and saving some for later in the week? Do you freeze some of the leftovers? Thanks!

        1. Biryani easily stays fresh for 3-4 days when refrideragted in an airtight container

    1. Hi there, you can substitute it for about 1/2 tablespoon of pulp but the the seed has a more solid flavor vs how the pulp just melts into the masala

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *