Thursday, 31 December 2009

Malabar Chicken Biriyani

I thought I wouldn’t be able make another post before New Year, but here is another one. A yummy Chicken Biriyani. You can try it for the New Year if you really trust me! Once again, wishing you all a wonderful and prosperous New Year.

I have been getting lot of requests from my readers for Malabar Chicken Biriyani and here is the long waited recipe. Malabar Biriyani is known all over for its heavenly rich taste and its flavourful rice! Among them the most famous ones are the Thalassery Biriyani and Kozhikkodan (Calicut) Biriyani. Well, Even though Thalassery belongs to Kannur, the biriyani preparation is slightly different than Kannur Biriyani, but it can’t be beaten in taste and aroma, I bet. This time when I went to India I had Biriyani from different places of Kannur and they tasted almost similar and the method I noticed was also quite similar. The only difference would have been the addition of curd-some adds it and some doesn’t and the same with lime juice for masala. After all, they are used to bring in the sourness to the masala, and you can always increase the tomatoes instead. In my recipe, I always add lime and rarely use curd. The recipe I have given here is with the exception of curd. And For rice, some fries it and some don’t. If you notice, we don’t add pungent spices like chilli powder, Dhanya powder and turmeric powder. The main flavour comes from the ginger, garlic, chillies, tomatoes and onion. To add extra flavour, we finish it up with garam masala. The biriyani usually made is quite rich, lot of ghee is added and it is quite heavy. Here, I have used minimal amount of ghee as possible, so one can have it without much guilt. Well, you may add more ghee or oil if you wish. The recipe serves around 6 - 8 People with condiments side and it is just over a tablespoon of fat per person. How good is that!

For an authentic Malabar Biriyani, the rice that is normally used is known as ‘Jeerakashaala’ rice which has its own unique flavour and texture. The size of the rice is quite small, probably just half the length of the normal Basmati rice. Since we don’t get Jeerakashaala rice here, we always substitute it with Basmati rice. Well, I have never cooked with jeerakashaala rice. I was told by my mom that we don’t soak jeerakashaala rice since the biriyani gets mushy when soaked. So if using jeerakashaala rice for this recipe, please follow the ingredients as such, but do not soak the rice.

Malabar biriyanis are always garnished with fried onions, raisins and cashews. It is served along with Raita, a cucumber and yogurt based condiment, else tomato and onion in yogurt, a pickle, vinegary onions and pappadams. Chicken biriyani or mutton biriyani with the above said side dishes and chicken fries is the speciality of the Muslim weddings back in Malabar. It is always served after the starter ‘Alisa’, which is a porridge like stuff mainly made of wheat and meat and is served by sprinkling sugar on top! Yum..

Here is the recipe of Muslim style Malabar Chicken Biriyani.

Malabar Chicken Biriyani ( Serves 6-8)
For Ghee rice:

4 cups (800 g) Basmati rice
6 cups water
¾ cup onion sliced (1 medium size onion)
¾ - 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
7 cardamom pods
8 cloves
2 1” size pieces of cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaves
9 Tbsp clarified butter (Ghee), (I used 7 Tbs vegetable oil and 2 Tbs ghee)
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 twig curry leaves

For Biryani masala:
1 kg of large chicken pieces, preferably thighs, legs and breast
500g (4 ½ cups, 4-5 medium onions) thinly sliced onion
15 large cloves(4 packed Tbs) freshly minced garlic
65g (2 ½" thick piece) freshly minced ginger
330g (2 cups packed, 4 large) chopped tomatoes
20 (5 tsp) minced Green chillies (reduce if you want it less hot), you may use just 12-15 of them
½ cup Chopped Coriander leaves
10-12 fresh mint leaves chopped
22 mls (1 ½ Tbsp) freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp garam masala + 1 tsp extra to sprinkle on rice while layering.
4 tsp Oil (you may add more if needed)
3 cardamoms
8 cloves
4 small pieces of cinnamon sticks (1” size, thin ones)
1 ½tsp - 1 ¾ tsp Salt

For garnishing:
2 handful cashews
2 handful raisins
2 medium onions sliced thin
Few drops of yellow or orange food colouring or both (opional)

Step by step guide to prepare Dum Biryani:

Method to prepare Biryani masala:
1. Wash chicken well, place it on a colander to drain off all water.
2. Heat a large vessel to medium low and add oil. When hot, throw in the whole spices. When they leave the aroma (takes upto a minute on low heat) sauté chopped ginger, garlic, chillies and onions along with salt until the onions become soft and translucent.
3. At this point, add chopped tomatoes. When the tomatoes start to soften ad breakdown almost completely, add chicken and cook until almost done. All this should be done on a low heat so that onion releases its juice and chicken gets cooked in that juice slowly.
6. Add lime juice, chopped coriander and mint leaves and cook the chicken until done. Add garam masala and close lid to infuse in the flavour.

If there is lot of liquid, boil it off and reduce to a thick masala. If there is lot of water, the rice may end up overcooked.

Method to prepare Ghee rice and Garnishing:
1. Wash rice several times until you g et clear water to drain. Soak the rice for half an hour.

2. For preparing the garnish, in a large non-stick vessel, add oil + ghee or only ghee as mentioned in the recipe and fry the cashews until golden. Remove them and drain on a kitchen towel. In the same oil fry the raisins until they puff up and keep them along with cashews. Fry the onion until just golden and keep them with the former. The onion will get coloured (will continue to cook even after you take them out, so don’t fry until brown).

3. For preparing the ghee rice, In the same vessel, add ¾ cup slice onion and sauté till the onion turn soft and translucent. (don’t brown them, that will effect the colour of the rice.). At this stage add cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon and cumin seeds and sauté for a minute until it leaves the aroma.

4. Strain the rice and tip in the rice slowly and fry for 5 minutes on high heat by constant stirring.

5. Add boiling water, salt, curry leaves and lime juice and keep boiling, by keeping the lid open until all the water has disappeared, but the rice is still wet and not dry.

6. Reduce the flame to low, Cover tightly to let all the steam in and cook it until done. In between you can flip the rice two times to ensure even cooking.

If you follow the method of preparing therice you should get well fluffed individual rice that doesn’t stick to each other.

For layering the biryani and final cooking:

1. Using a large plate, take out 2/3 rd of the rice from the vessel and transfer it to another bowl. Leave the rest 1/3 of the rice in the vessel and level off the surface neatly using a spatula. Sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala (from the garam masala that is reserved for sprinkling) all over. If you are adding colour, add few drops of yellow or orange food colouring in 4-5 places.

2. Take half of the masala and sprinkle over the rice along with the chicken.

3. Spoon 1/3 rd of the rice again over the chicken masala. Sprinkle a good pinch of garam masala, and few drops of colouring.

4. Add the rest half of the masala and complete the layering by spooning the last 1/3 of the rice. Sprinkle again with garam masala, and few drops of colouring.

So now you have alternating layers of rice and masala that’s goes like this: Rice, Biryani masala, rice, Biryani masala and again rice.

5. Cover the entire vessel with foil (to ensure that full steam stays in), then close the lid tightly. Place a weight (you can also use any vessel filled with water for this) over this vessels and cook on hob top for about 30 minutes at very low heat. This is to infuse the flavour of the biryani masala into the rice and this process of cooking is called ‘Dum’. To know if it is done, lift the lid and you should be able to see steam coming from the top part of rice. (Don’t expect smoke, it will be just a light streak of steam from here and there) and the rice on the top will be slightly curvy!!

6. You can also do the layering in an ovenproof vessel and place it in a preheated oven at a very low temperature for about 20-30 minutes for the final cooking. I never tried this, but my friends do it this way.

Just before serving, garnish with fried onions, cashews and raisins.


1.You can also sprinkle little of the fried onions while layering and leave the rest for garnishing. You may sprinkle it along with garam masala. This helps to bring out the flavour of fried onions into the rice. And it is real good too.


Sushma Mallya said...

Delicious way to start a fresh new year...looks mouthwatering shabs,must try ur recipe too...And wish you and your family a very happy & a prosperous new year

Tina said...

Hmmm kollalloooo...enikku biriyani thinnan thonunnunnu noblenodu paranjathe ulloooooo..send one parcel to my home dear...Happy new year...

Unknown said...

Wish I lived somewhere close to your house...he he, Your chicken Biriyani is very inviting:) Looks perfect and awesome:)
Wish u & ur family a Happy & Prosperous New Year!!

Saju Sharfu said...

Wish u and ur family a happy and blessed new year!

Swathi said...


Happy New Year to you and your family. Thanks for posting chicken biriyani.I will try to make it.

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Shab
Happy new year and what a way to close the year 2009 with a great Biriyani dish.
Can I make it with mutton or lamb? Else of course I will make it with chicken'
Have a nice weekend

Lena Jayadev said...

happy new year Shabz...and a special new year wish to your baby doll.. :)

biriyani kaanichu kothippikkalle shabz..snap looks amazing..:)

Anonymous said...

yummm...!! ur pic leaves me drooling... CB (as it is called at local restaurants back home) is my fav item and never get fed up of is essentially friday lunch (and dinner!) for us..


Duchess of Tea said...

Darling, I just popped in to once again thank you for the lovely award you presented me awhile back and to apologize for posting it excuse other than life got in the way. The award is proudly posted on my award section and there is a post with a link to your blog on mine. Thanks again luv. Have a lovely rest of the week and an equally lovely 2010 full of good health, happiness and success.

Love & Hugs

Aparna said...

nalla biriyani..:)

lubnakarim06 said...

I am hungry....fully hungry...want to gulp some right now.....looks extremely drool worthy....

Saju Sharfu said...

hello..evideyan...oru enakavum illallo... miss readin ur recipes..

Dori said...

Loooong recipe, something for me to try on the weekend :P I'm such a slow cook... I take forever in the kitchen with simple meals :P Looks good, I want to try this :)

Latha said...

Wow!!!! adipoli biryani...

Shabs.. said...

Thank u al for stopping by and for valuable comments...

Aruna said...

Malabar Biryani Looks great!!! Thx for the recipe. I have tried ur Chammen Biryani & it was excellant!!!

Can you please specify what kind/brand Garam masala you used here ?? Or if using homemade can you please say what you used. Thanks sooo much!!!

Srivalli said...

Biryani surely looks so wonderful!..Shabs, I am just going backward to your posts and everything looks very nice!..will try them sometime!

Shabs.. said...

Hi aruna,
Thx for trying out my chemmeen biriyani and letting me know abiut it.....I know, we like it much too....Thx for ur compliments....

Then about ur query in chicken biriyani, I used the shop bought garam masala. I am not sure which brand i bought, but i guess it is the eastern garam masala. My mom makes home made masala, which tastes almost same.I can get u her garam masala ingredients if u want to :)

Srivalli,long time...thx for ur compliments dear...

Aruna said...

HI, It would be great if you can post ur moms garam masala recipe.... I will be eagerly waiting....
Keep up the good work!!! Hope to see more Cicken & Mutton recipes here!! Thx again.

Anonymous said...

i've tried many of your recipes(prawns biriyani,kozhi nirachathu) and all came out really well. I feel ashamed that i never bothered to stop by and leave you a thank you note.Yesterday i made chicken biriyani and it came out really well .Thanks a lot for your wonderful recipes!!

Shabs.. said...

Hi anon...
Thx for stopping by and for ur lovely comments....Its better late than never, I am glad u let me know anyways...:)Wish u had a name though!

Unknown said...

My search for the ultimate biriyani recipe ended here. i have trying out the various recipes on the net.but somehow somewhere , there were these glitches which i couldn't appreciate.
first of all thank you for the simple lucid way of writing,this has to come from your practical experiences,secondly the rational an analytical way of using the spices and the ingredients, and explaining the smallest nuances eg, sauteing onion till translucency an its ability to getting cooked further,an its browning affecting the color of rice .Plus i appreciate the use of appropriate heat at the right time esp,rice preparation makes a real lot of difference in the rice separation an outcome...wondeful!!! thank you
i tried this biriyani , the taste is just superb ,there's no clash of multitude (or a mishmash) of spices.The flavor is distinct of the garam masala ,the juices of chicken ,onion tomato an herbs blended in to the aromatic rice..heavenly!!!.
i didnt use color,i put a pinch of turmeric during each layering of rice and it turned out to be fine.
thanks a ton mate
my best wishes for all your endeavors!!

Shabs.. said...

Hi sudeep,
You made my day!I dont remember receiving such a long and inspirational comment for sometime now. I am a person who started learning cooking from scratch and all by myself. So i know where exactly the things can go wrong, even if it is really minor ones. I had several bad exeriences with little mistakes that had ignored in the past and dont want my readers to do the same errors...As you mentioned, heat is very important in cooking but most of them dont mention that. You can see the difference of outcome just by cooking the dishes in high heat and low heat.
Once again, thank u for the wishes and such a lovely comment. I am glad u like my biriyani.

Unknown said...

could you please tell me which brands garam masala you use ?

? said...

Biryani's are not regular dishes for us but would like to try your recipe.
Am wondering which garam masala you use?
Thanks in advance!

Shabs.. said...

I use eastend or eastern garam masala. This biriyani i sgood, you could give it a try:)..we make it couple of times a month:)

Tastyveedu said...

de best part of dese recipes is dat dey're so detailed n evn hav de amount of salt(which is very very very imp 4 me):)..tried dis biryani out 2day,turnd out yummy n richly flavoured!Thk u so much 4 all dese malabar recipes so well explained,nw i don hav 2 depend much on moms"korachu athu,korachu ithu"(she never givs de exact measurmnt)

nehaz said...

Hi Shabs, have been trying to find an email address to personally thank you. This Ramadan and Eid, tried a lot of recipes from your website. Especially the Malabar biryani! Back home, it is prepared in a different way. I prefer your method though. Very simple and delicious! Great photography work too!

Zo-Ya said...

Hey Shabs,
First time commenting though I have visited your blog many times! Tried the malabar chicken biriyani yesterday and it was 'super':-) it was not too elaborate as I am used to and it tasted just awesome! Thank you so much!

Ammi's Biryani said...

Great post indeed. Longing for tasty traditional Muslim biriyani in Bangalore? Visit us today.

Rmenon said...

incredible post.. Thank you for sharing the nuances in the making of a biriyani. however I would like to know how can I keep the chicken pieces moist and juicy throughout, as I find them quite dry while serving unlike the ones you get in restaurants like Paragon.

Shabs said...

Thank you for your feedback Rmenon. My chicken is usually moist. I usually cook in low-medium flame. I think chicken can get tough if it's cooked on high heat. And sorry, I have never been to paragon.

manja said...

thank you for the biriyani recipe... can you please tell me how much water should be used to cook the ghee rice... and should the rice be cooked completely or left 3/4 cooked so that it gets cooked with the gravy... and which is the best basmati rice to make this biriyani i normally use INDIA GATE or RELIANCE aroma .

Tommy said...

Thanks for this sharing malabar chicken biryani recipe that will surely help us, your followers. The procedures are easy to follow and you write it down in a clear manner so that we can easily get what to do step-by-step. Again, tanks for sharing your knowledge and continue to share more recipes ideas. More Power to you. :)

Apsara Mishra said...

very interesting Malabar Chicken biryani recipe . I loved presentation it seems like eating it now. very tasty.

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