Boneless Chicken Biryani

Servings : Serves 4-6

A simple yet superbly flavourful Biryani that uses boneless chunks of chicken instead of on the bone pieces, which makes it much faster to prepare and much easier to serve/eat.

Ingredients for Chicken Masala

  • 500 gm boneless chicken breast or thighs, cut into chunks
  • 500 gm onions, sliced and fried to golden brown
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste/puree
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp red chilli flakes or chilli powder (optional)
  • 1-2 slit green chillies
  • 250 ml plain thick yoghurt (whipped until smooth)
  • 1 pinch of orange food colouring (optional)
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 2 tbsp oil (for marinating)
  • 4 tbsp oil (for cooking)
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled, cut in quarters then fried until a knife can pierce them easily
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garam masala

Ingredients for Rice

  • 3 cups long grain basmati rice
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • yellow or orange food colouring
  • 1 pinch of saffron threads, crushed and soaked in 2 tbsp hot water (optional)


First marinate the chicken in the ginger, garlic, whole spices, half of the yoghurt, half the fried onions, 2 tbsp. tomato paste, 2 tbsp of oil, pinch of orange food colouring, salt, 1 slit green chilli, chilli flakes and a pinch of the saffron. Mix well and marinate overnight for best results, or at least for an hour.

Heat the remaining 4 tbsp. of oil and add the whole spices (cardamom, cinnamon stick and cloves). Allow them to warm up so that they infuse their flavour into the oil and then remove from the pan and save them for when you cook the rice. Then add the remainder of the fried onions (reserve a handful for adding to the rice later), tomato paste, saffron, green chilli and yoghurt. Cook this for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened. Next add the marinated chicken with all its marinade, and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to low and cook for another 10 minutes.

Keep the pan covered during cooking and give the mixture a stir after every few minutes. Adjust salt, chilli to taste. Add the 1 tsp of sugar (it helps cut down the acidity from the tomatoes). Once the chicken is tender, add in the fried potato cubes and cook together on low heat for 5 minutes so that the potatoes take on a nice colour. The masala needs to be thick and rich, but if it feels too dry you may add a small splash of warm water and stir it in. Sprinkle garam masala and set aside.

Next you can prepare the rice.

Wash and rinse out the rice and then soak for about 30 minutes. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, cloves salt and 1 tbsp oil. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add the pre-soaked rice and cook until it is about three-quarters cooked (al dente). Drain away all the excess water.

Put the rice back into the empty pan and sprinkle a handful of fried onions. Then drizzle about 2 tbsp. of oil and the saffron water over the rice. Add the food colouring on one side and mix it up a bit with a spoon to distribute the colour evenly and then cover the pot tightly. Steam this on low heat for 15 minutes or put in a 180C preheated oven for about the same time.

Serve up the rice topped with the chicken masala.


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