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Chicken Dum Biryani – Monica's Spice Diary – Indian Food Blog

Chicken Dum Biryani

Making a Biryani from scratch is a real labour of love. There is an art to perfecting each component – layering them before sealing, then allowing them to steam under the “dum” to then reveal perfectly cooked, tender chicken and pillowy grains of infused rice. Ahhhh I can smell the aromas as I type this!

Biryani comes in all shapes and sizes depending on what part of India you are in. This Chicken Dum Biryani is a fairly straight forward one and cooks quite quickly. It’s a recipe that I have modified to work in the modern kitchen (puff pastry to replace a whole wheat dough, steaming in the oven instead of on the stove etc) but it still works an absolute treat and tastes absolutely delicious!

I taught this at my live cookery class yesterday – thank you to everyone who joined me! If you missed the class, you can catch up here. You will also hear all about the big reveal which I made about SHIKSHAK (aka #spiceclubtopscret which I have been teasing for months!). SHIKSHAK is an online Indian cookery membership platform that allows you to master Indian cookery from your own kitchen. I am so excited that I can now share this with you all. It’s been months in the making through lockdown and we are nearly there. I just need your help to get us over the finish line and make SHIKSHAK a reality. Our CROWDFUNDER IS NOW LIVE: We have some amazing rewards on offer. Please pledge your support and spread the word.

Once you’ve done that, you can enjoy the biryani! Do let me know on how it turns out for you. Monica x

Chicken Dum Biryani & Pomegranate Raita


For the Chicken Marinade Paste

  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 cms ginger
  • 2 chilies
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 5 stems coriander & leaves
  • 2 ½ tbsp greek yoghurt
  • 20 g crunchy golden fried onions

Additional Ingredients for Chicken:

  • 350 g boneless chicken thighs skinned and cut into 3cms chunks
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 ½ tsp coriander powder
  • ¾ tsp cumin powder
  • ¾ tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¾ tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • 1 ½ tbsp double concentrate tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp oil any

To Prepare the Rice

  • 300 g Basmati rice ideally extra long grain basmati washed 3-4 times.
  • 4 green cardamoms
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 tbsp ghee or oil
  • 1 chilli
  • 2 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp kewra water/screw pine essence or use rose water optional

To Prepare the Saffron Milk

  • Saffron Milk
  • 60 ml milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 10 strands saffron
  • 2 tbsp kewra/screw pine water or rose water optional
  • 2 tbsp double cream
  • You will also need:
  • Small saucepan

For Garnishing

  • 3-4 tbsp crunchy golden fried onions roughly chopped
  • 3-4 sprigs mint de-stemmed & roughly chopped
  • 3-4 stems of coriander roughly chopped
  • 1 x rolled out Puff Pastry sheet 375g, at room temperature optional, If you are not using puff pastry, ensure your ovenware has a tight fitting lid.

Pomegranate Raita

  • 300 g Greek Yoghurt
  • 3-4 tbsp milk
  • ¼ cucumber
  • ½ pomegranate deseeded
  • 1 sprig of mint
  • 4 stems coriander
  • ½ red onion 50g
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp roasted cumin powder


  • Pre-heat oven at 200c on the roast/baking setting.
  • Add all of the "Chicken Marinade Paste" ingredients to a food processor and grind together. Empty into a bowl.
  • Now add all of the "Additional Ingredients for Chicken" to this bowl and mix well. Allow to marinade – anywhere from 2 hours up to 24 hours ahead ideal. Remove from fridge an hour before cooking to allow it to get to room temperature.
  • To make the rice, bring a large pot of water to boil (Approx 4litres). Drain the soaked rice. When the water comes to a boil, carefully add all of the remaining "For the Rice" ingredients to the water.
  • Mix well and allow the water to come back up to the boil. Reduce to a rolling simmer and mix the rice every minute or so. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the rice is par cooked. It should be al dente and you be able to just break a grain of rice with your nail.
  • Be careful not to overcook the rice – it should be about 50% cooked. Drain immediately in a colander. Keep the drained rice covered to ensure it stays warm and then keep aside.
  • To make the saffron milk, bring the milk and cream along with the salt and turmeric to boil in a small sauce pan. As soon as it boils, turn off the heat. Add the saffron strands along with the kewra water. Allow the saffron to infuse well (you should see the milk turn yellow). Keep aside.
  • Now it's time to layer! Tip in the marinaded chicken to your ovenware – make sure it is spread out nice and flat so the base is not overcrowded. Then add the rice to cover (there should be about 50% rice and 50% chicken ratio). Then sprinkle over the mint, coriander and crunchy golden onions.
  • Finally, evenly drizzle the saffron milk all over the biryani.
  • Now cover the biryani with your puff pastry sheet. Make sure you spend some time to seal the pastry around the edges – this is really important. There should be some overhang but if there is a lot of excess around the sides, you can cut some off.
  • If you are not using pastry, ensure that your ovenware has a tight fitting lid.
  • Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 180c and cook for a further 15-20 minutes.
  • When you remove the biryani from the oven, the puff pastry should be crisp and golden. Use a serving spoon to cut a hole around the edge of the pastry lid.
  • Then using the spoon, mix together all of the layers. Serve onto a platter. If you like, you can garnish with some more crunchy fried onions and coriander.

To make the Pomegranate Raita:

  • Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Decanter into a serving bowl and garnish with roasted cumin powder, pomegranate seeds and some fresh mint leaves.