We all know that chocolate can bring back a smile on your face after a day filled with misery and misfortune. But what if I ask you what’s the ‘real-food’ alternative to chocolates or ice-creams for that matter? For me (and I’m sure for many, many others as well) it’s Biryani! A plate full of this aromatic, royal feast comprises of slow-cooked rice, meat, spices, and flavours of so many different kinds. Mughals brought Biryani to India hundreds of years ago and while they’ve gone now, their most treasured royal delicacy is still being prepared, consumed, and loved by us in almost every part of the country.

There are so many ways to prepare Biryani since there are quite a few variations you could try – Lucknow-vi Biryani, Kerala Biryani, Mughlai Biryani, the classic mutton Biryani, chicken Biryani, Sindhi Biryani and then there’s the most popular of them all – Hyderabadi Dum Biryani. You can even skip all the meat and prepare a bowl full of vegetable Biryani, in case you are a vegetarian. But let’s just concentrate on the Hyderabadi version for now.

In order to prepare classic Hyderabadi Dum Biryani (you can either use chicken or mutton, whatever you prefer) you’ll need the following ingredients –

  • Basmati Rice – 1 and a half cup (I use a 250 ml cup) supreme quality aged basmati rice. Soak rice in 2 cups of water for 30 minutes, drain the water and keep it aside.
  • 4 tablespoon ghee
  • Half kilo chicken with bones.
  • 1 Large onion – Cut the onion into thin long slices (Julienne) and then deep fry.
  • Finely chopped coriander leaves
  • Half tablespoon biryani masala
  • Chopped mint leaves
  • ¼ tablespoon saffron stands – Soak the stands in 2 and a half tablespoon of warm milk.
  • 2 and a half cups of water
  • Half tablespoon jeera
  • 2 small black cardamom
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 2 strands of mace
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Half tablespoon peppercorn
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

For marinating the chicken, you would need –

  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 3 green chillies – slit them in two parts
  • ¼ tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoon lime juice
  • Half cup curd/yogurt
  • 1 and a half tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • ¼ tablespoon green cardamom powder
  • ½ tablespoon biryani masala
  • Salt to taste


  1. Take a bowl and add yogurt, salt, lemon juice, red chilli powder, ginger garlic paste, turmeric powder, cardamom powder and biryani masala. Mix well to make a thick paste. Add chicken to the mixture. Make sure to coat the chicken properly using your hands and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Take a pot and add water and a tablespoon of ghee in it. Let the water reach its boiling point and then add the dry spices (jeera, peppercorn, black cardamom, mace, green cardamom, bay leaves, cloves and cinnamon sticks). Wait for a minute and then add the soaked rice. Do not let the rice cook completely, though. Switch off the stove when the rice look slightly undercooked.
  3. Now take a thick pot and add ghee, fried onions, coriander, biryani masala, chilies, mint leaves and the marinated chicken (half of it). On top of this add a layer of undercooked rice. Again, add a layer of chicken and spices and then again a layer of rice.
  4. Finally, add saffron milk and cover the lid using foil or a clean towel. Alternatively, you can stick dough on the edges of the lid to make it absolutely air tight. Now, put this pot on low flame for about 10-15 minutes and then wait for another 10 minutes before opening the lid.
  5. Your biryani is now ready. Enjoy it with raita or chicken curry.

Divya Singh

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