• 1 ½ kg chicken cut into pieces 2 large cups Basmati rice (long grain fragrant rice) 7 dry red chillies (Bedgi mirchi) 2 bay leaves 1 tablespoon dhaniya/ coriander seeds 1 teaspoon saunf/ aniseed ¼ jaiphal/ nutmeg ½ teaspoon shah jeera 8 black peppercorns 2 inch tikhi/ cinnamon 1 teaspoon jeera/ cuminseeds 1 teaspoon haldi/ turmeric powder 8 cloves 2 badi elaichi/ large cardamoms 3 choti hari elaichi/ small green cardamoms 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste 1 teaspoon orange food colour dissolved in water Oil for frying the masala spices 5 onions sliced 3 tomatoes 1 cup pudina/ mint leaves broken 1 cup dhaniya/ coriander leaves 1 cup whisked curd 2 large potatoes sliced 2 tablespoon warm milk with a few strands of saffron in it. 3 tablespoon ghee 2 boiled eggs Salt to taste SPICES TO COOK WITH RICE: 2 choti elaichi/ small cardamom 2 tamalpatra/ bay leaves 1 star anise 1 inch tikhi/ cinnamon stick

Biryani is a special form of rice preparation made with spices and fragrant rice (usually Basmati variety) alongwith meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The word biryani is supposed to be derived from the Persian word Berya(n) which means fried or roasted.

There are many variations of the biryani which give a special local flavour depending on the region of its origin and the various types are:

  • Lucknowi (Awadhi) biryani (belonging to the northern state of Uttar Pradesh)
  • Hyderabadi biryani (belonging to the Nawab state of Andhra Pradesh in the south)
  • Malabar (Kozhikkode) biryani (Calicut style, belonging to the state of Kerala in the south)
  • Kacchi biryani (also called kacchi (raw) yakni/ yeqni, raw marinated meat cooked together with rice, speciality of Hyderabad and also Bangla desh)
  • Calcutta biryani (northeastern state of Bengal)
  • Sindhi biryani (from the Sindh province)
  • Vaniyambadi biryani  &  Ambur biryani(Mughal style from the southern state of Tamil Nadu)

And there are also international varieties like:

  • Burmese, Thai, Sri Lankan, Iranian, Middle Eastern, Malaysian, Singaporean, Mauritian & Kabuli

The Nizam of Hyderabads kitchen boasts of 49 varieties of biryanis which include biryani made from chicken, mutton, beef, shrimp or fish.

The difference between biryani and pulao is that while pulao may be made by cooking the items together, biryani is where the rice is cooked separately from the curry of meat or vegetables. The curry and the rice are then layered to give a dish that is a meal in itself, full of meat or vegetables. The biryani is a rice preparation where the individual rice grains are separate, as opposed to a risotto, where the riceis of a creamy consistency.

However, this particular recipe of Hyderabadi biryani calls for the rice to befirst cooked, and layering with the curd marinated chicken, and a slow-steaming (dum-pukht) until fully done. This ensures that the flavors are completely absorbed/ blended in the dish.

 Masala for Hyderabadi biryani


  1. Wash the basmati fragrant rice properly. Heat 6-8 cups of water in a deep vessel. Once the water starts boiling, add the rice and the spices and cook till the rice is half done. Add salt. Drain and keep the rice aside. Taste and adjust the salt as per your taste.
  2. Roast the red chillies, coriander seeds, aniseeds, nutmeg, shah jeera, black peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, cloves, badi elaichi, choti elaichi for 1 minute on a tava/ pan. Grind the above spices/ masala to a fine paste along with about 1 tablespoon (a small bunch) of coriander leaves.
  3. Divide the sliced onions into 2 equal parts. Fry half the onions till deep brown and reserve it for garninshing. The other half is for the gravy.
  4. Heat oil, add bay leaves, the half of sliced onions and fry till golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and the masala paste and fry till oil separates. Now add the chopped tomatoes and 1 small cup water and cook to form a thick gravy.
  5. Take chicken in a bowl and add salt, curd, turmeric powder, the above thick gravy, half of the pudina (mint) leaves and marinate it in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
  6. For the final step, arrange the potato slices at the bottom of a ghee greased deep pan. Sprinkle a little salt on it. Now layer half of the marinated chicken on top of the potatoes.
  7. Now add a layer of rice to cover the chicken and sprinkle a few pudina/ mint leaves and coriander leaves.
  8. Again spread the remaining marinated chicken in a layer on the rice. Sprinkle pudina/ mint leaves and half of the crisp brown onions. Now again spread the remaining rice on the top to cover all the chicken. Now sprinkle some pudina/ mint leaves, coriander leaves and garnish with the crisp brown onions. Make 5 deep holes in the layers of biryani you have stacked right till the bottom. Pour in ghee & saffron milk into these holes. Sprinkle some orange colour dissolved in water on the biryani. Now cover the biryani pan with a cover and seal all the edges with atta/ dough. Cook on extremely slow flame for 30 minutes.
  9. The Hyderabadi dum pukht biryani is now ready to be served. Usually this is served with vegetable raita/ salad in curd.


Tip: Dum pukht means steam cooked (allowing the steam to be retained within), this ensures that all the exotic flavours of all spices are trapped inside the pan sealed with dough. This ensures a heavily fragrant biryani fit for the Kings & Nawabs.

Hyderabadi dum biryani - Chicken