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Indian Chicken Biryani

Biryani is a mixed rice and meat dish popular in India. This unbelievably savory recipe will amaze guests or satisfy picky family members.

Makes 4 servings. Total preparation time: 1 hour and 10 minutes.


  1. Wrap cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, ginger and cumin seed in small piece of cheesecloth and secure with kitchen twine. In a 4-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan about 8 inches in diameter, bring water, spice bundle, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat and simmer, partially covered, until spices have infused in water, at least 15 minutes but no longer than 30.
  2. While water is simmering, trim skin and fat from chicken, then pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken thighs with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat coconut oil or grape seed oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foaming subsides and then add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and dark brown about edges, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Add jalapeños and garlic to onions and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to bowl, season lightly with salt, and set aside. Wipe out skillet with paper towels, return heat to medium-high, and place chicken thighs skin-side down in skillet. Cook, without moving chicken, until well browned, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken and brown second side, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate and remove and discard remaining skin. Tent with foil to keep warm.
  4. Stir rice into spice-infused water and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain rice through fine-mesh strainer, reserving 3/4 cup cooking liquid. Discard spice bundle. Transfer rice to medium bowl and stir in saffron and currants (rice will turn splotchy yellow).
  5. Spread half of rice evenly in bottom of now-empty saucepan using rubber spatula. Scatter half of onion mixture over rice, then place chicken thighs, skinned-side up, on top of onions and add any accumulated chicken juices. Evenly sprinkle with cilantro and mint, then scatter remaining onions over herbs. Cover with remaining rice and reserved cooking liquid.
  6. Cover saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes (if large amount of steam is escaping from pot, reduce heat to low). Run heatproof rubber spatula around inside rim of saucepan to loosen any affixed rice. Using large serving spoon, spoon biryani into individual bowls, scooping from bottom of pot and serving 1 chicken thigh per person.


10 cardamom pods, preferably green, smashed

1 cinnamon stick

2-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into 1/2-inch-thick coins and smashed

1/2 teaspoon cumin seed

3 quarts water

table salt

4 bone-in chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)

ground black pepper

3 tablespoons coconut oil or grape seed oil

2 medium onions, sliced thin (about 4 cups)

2 medium jalapeños, one seeded and chopped fine, the other chopped fine with seeds

4 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)

3/4 cups basmati rice

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, lightly crumbled

1/4 cup dried currants or goji berries

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves


kitchen twine

We realize that you may not always have the time to cook meals from scratch, and that a quick and easy substitution may be needed. We always recommend cooking the real thing, but in a pinch you can try this instead:

Buy frozen Indian chicken biryani entrée. Warm chicken biryani then add to romaine lettuce leaf and top with goji berries, cilantro and mint. Wrap, then serve with lime wedge to add extra flavor. Enjoy!