Written in the Stars Recipe: Chicken Biryani

Written in the Stars reminded me of Pakistan, it was only fitting that I went back to the roots.  I decided on Biryani – a spicy rice pilaf with your choice of meat.  Sort of like a Pakistani version of paella.  I am super excited about this recipe.  I must mention, this took me several times to get right.  The recipe doesn’t come easily to someone fairly new in the kitchen. I would love love love to see pictures of anyone whose tried it at home.

Here we go!

Biryani is pretty much assembled. You cook the rice in one pot, the chicken and masala in another pot and then layer them in one happy huge pot.



  • 2 Cups washed basmati rice (soaked 30 min)
  • One Chicken cut into medium pieces (go for cubed chicken breast if your squeamish like me)
  • 4 Large Onions – sliced thin
  • 1 tbsp. ginger paste
  • Olive Oil
  • Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp. garlic paste
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp Chilli powder (increase to 1.5 if you like spice)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • .5 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 bay leaves


Fill large pot  (very large you want room to work in this pot) 3 quarters of the way with water. Bring to boil then add a heaping tsp of salt, 1 tsp lemon juice and 1 tsp oil.

Add rice, stir to make sure your rice isn’t complacent.  Be gentle you don’t want to break the rice either. Cook until rice is starting to become translucent but about 70% done.  Drain and set aside.

Meat & Masala

  • Pour quarter cup olive oil into a pot
  • Add onions, fry until soft and translucent
  • Add tomato sauce / ginger paste/ garlic paste / salt (to taste)/chilli powder/cumin/turmeric. Let everything marry for about 2-5 minutes
  • Add Chicken and cook until the chicken changes color – probably around 2 minutes
  • Add whipped yogurt
  • Cover and let cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes checking intermittently to check progress
  • You’ll know its done when your sauce is breaking.  (the oil comes to surface)
  • Here you can add thing strips of green chillies if you’d like – they add to the over all look
  • In a separate frying pan, add a tbsp. of oil and fry half an onion to a crisp  drain in wax paper


Drizzle the bottom of your now empty rice pot with oil.

Layer the bottom with half your rice, on top layer half your chicken mixture. Then layer — you guessed it… the rice and finally on top the last of the chicken.  Once you’re all layered add the fried onion as garnish. Seal the lid and leave on the stove at low flame. The idea here is to let the rice finish cooking and let the chicken masala marry the rice. Usually about 20 minutes or so.

The layered pot looks something like this:

biryani cooking

Open up and mix well. I usually use the handle side of my kitchen utensil – this helps not break the rice further.

Add egg, garnish with mint leaves or leave it as is.  Enjoy!

Feed back is very much appreciated.

PS – Also please feel free to comment on the picture editing – trying to improve on my photography skills.

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