Chicken Biryani by Mom De Cuisine

It seems that our time living here inBahrainmay be coming to a close sooner than we expected. My husband got word of a job opportunity that was just too good to pass up with the understanding that we would be moving sooner than originally planned. It feels bittersweet-we are so excited for our next adventure, but now I feel more pressure to take time to take advantage of all that our host nation has to offer. What that really translates to is a lot of last shopping for regional treasures and mastering the dishes we have discovered and come to love here. Sure, I’ve got a few recipes; but I’ve taken advantage of how easy it is to have our favorite regional dishes delivered to our door or available ready made when we go grocery shopping.

Biryani is a rice dish that is very common inBahrainand has been on my list of dishes that I would have to learn to make before we left for a long time-but not because it’s a family favorite. Rather, it’s my daughter’s favorite. No one else really cared for this meal-until our (wonderful, amazing, sweet, awesome, caring) nanny/maid graciously agreed to not only give me her recipe, but to teach me to make it. Everywhere we go, the biryani varies. The level of heat, the combination of spices, the type of meat used; but no one’s version even came close to Nelu’s recipe. As we danced around each other in my tiny kitchen, frying onions, smashing garlic, seasoning chicken, I watched her build layers of flavor that I had never experienced before in a biryani. While at first glance, this recipe seems involved, I think after making it a few times this one-pot meal would come together easily. Now my family will be able to enjoy Madison’s favorite “spicy rice” long after we have moved away.

Chicken Biryani Recipe

Recipe Type Main
Prep time 30 mins
Cook time 45 mins
Total time 1 hour 15 mins
Serves 4


  • 3 cups cooked Basmati Rice
  • 3 red onions
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 chicken, cut into pieces (i.e. breast, wings, thighs) bone-in, skin off
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 6 whole cardamom pods
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or less depending on your spice preference.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • Fresh cilantro to garnish


  • Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of salt and turmeric on the chicken pieces and rub it in to coat. Set to the side.
  • Slice one onion into thin slivers. Heat oil over medium high heat and fry the onions until brown and crisp, about 4 minutes.
  • While the onions fry, chop the potato into cubes. Remove onions from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Place potatoes in the oil and fry until golden brown on each side, about 6 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, put garlic and ginger in a plastic bag and smash with a rolling pin (alternatively, this can be done with a mortar and pestle.)
  • Remove potatoes from the oil when browned with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Add the chicken to the oil and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes (the chicken does not need to cook through at this point.)
  • While chicken browns, add tomatoes and coriander to a food processor and puree until smooth.
  • Once chicken is evenly browned, remove with a slotted spoon. Chop the remaining onions and add them along with the cardamom and cinnamon to the oil and fry. After one minute, add the ginger/garlic mixture to the oil and fry one minute longer.
  • Add the chicken back to the oil along with the ground red pepper (if using), black pepper, cumin, remaining salt, and pureed tomato mixture. Stir and reduce heat to medium low and cover.
  • Add the potatoes to the chicken mixture after 5 minutes. Cook 5 minutes more and add the bouillon cube (no need to add water.) Cook until the potatoes are tender and the chicken is cooked through.
  • Mix in the cooked basmati rice and top with the fried onions. Return the lid to the pot and cook 5-6 minutes more to allow the rice to absorb the flavor. Serve with fresh cilantro garnished on top.


This dish is even better served the next day!

The written and photographic in this article are reference and redaction from