Chicken Biryani With Mint And Cilantro”Hyderabadi Biryani”

Biryani is a rice-based dish layered with meat and/or vegetables. The rice and meat are cooked separately, and then layered and baked together or cooked on low flame. This allows the aromas from various spices to get fully infused, making biryani highly enjoyable and delectable. Often made at my house as a party dish, I decided to make it as a weeknight treat for my family to enjoy! It is elaborate but those who have tasted biryani know it’s worth the effort.

Traditionally, the dish is served with a raita made with cucumber, tomatoes and onions. The yogurt helps to cool the palette from the heat of  the spices in the biryani. I made this with lots with caramelized onions, fresh cilantro, mint, green chillies, yogurt and saffron. The saffron turns the white basmati rice to a beautiful sunny yellow color and also gives it a lot of flavor and aroma.

There are many different types of biryani and methods of cooking it. This one has cooked meat and rice layered together which is called “pukki” biryani which means where the rice and meat have been cooked separately and then layered. The “kachha” type is where the raw meat  is marinated for a couple of hours and then uncooked rice is layered and then cooked together (a little intimidating for me). I like to be always sure about the meat being cooked right and well. This recipe comes from a very close family friend who is a wonderful cook and hails from Hyderabad which is in the southern part of India, known for it’s great food especially biryani and hence the name”Hyderabadi Biryani”.

My husband was thrilled to see this for dinner last night. I served it with dahi wadas (ground fried lentils in a creamy yogurt sauce) potatoes, salad and papad. It was such a delight to see my hubby and daughter enjoy it, we had our own little party!

Note: The biryani was mild, so for those of you who would like to make it spicy , just adjust the spice level by adding extra chillies .


  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken -I used skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks. The bones help the chicken to be moist and juicy.
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger paste (I use a microplane zester)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated garlic paste
  • 2 medium onions- sliced
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, washed and chopped fine
  • 1 1/4 loosely packed fresh cilantro, washed and chopped
  • 2 green chillies chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 teaspoon red chilly powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup yogurt ( I used non-fat)
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 4 cloves
  • small piece of cinnamon stick
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1/2 cup warm milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups white basmati rice, washed, soaked for 1/2 hour and cooked with 4 cups of water.
Heat oil in a vessel. Add  green cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon stick.
Then, add the onions and fry till a warm golden color.( I like to add a dash of salt while the onions are browning, helps them to release their water and the onions brown faster).
Add the cilantro, mint, green chillies, garlic and ginger paste and fry for a minute or two.
Add the chicken and saute. Add the red chilly powder, turmeric and salt to taste.
Fry this well for a couple of minutes. Then add the yogurt and continue to fry.
Add 1/2 cup hot boiling water to it, cover and let the chicken cook on medium heat  for 20 to 25 minutes. The chicken gravy should be thick. After the chicken is cooked, if you feel there is too much water, thicken the gravy by taking the lid off and let it boil away for 15 minutes.
While the chicken is cooking, cook the rice and keep aside.
After the chicken is cooked, the oil that floats on top, carefully with the help of a large spoon, remove it in a bowl and keep aside. You will need this while layering the biryani in the end.
Add the lime juice to this reserved oil mixture with a pinch of sugar.
Warm milk and add saffron to it and keep aside.
Keep the cooked chicken and rice aside, separately. Now, all you have to do is layer the biryani and bake it.
Layering the biryani:
Pour the chicken with gravy in a large bowl which is the bottom layer.
Add white rice on top. Sprinkle the reserved oil on top.
Add the warmed milk with crushed saffron threads to it and pour on top of the rice.
Seal the bowl tightly with aluminium foil, so that no steam escapes while it is in the oven.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve hot with raita, pickle and papads. Enjoy!
We enjoyed it with potatoes, salad and dahi wadas.




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