Adventurous Cooks: Chicken Biryani

Goodness, this post was supposed to go live at 3pm today, yikes!! My internet was acting up plus I had to run to town in the afternoon. Anyway now that I’ve finally gotten the time, here goes.

My fellow foodies and bloggers Cici, Wendy and I have started this cooking challenge where one of us gives us a recipe and then the rest of us try it out. The great thing about this challenge is that you can also participate. Our first challenge is chicken biryani, the idea is to try the recipe and take photos of your end result and post them on African Kaya.

I am normally not very confident in making Swahili dishes, I always fear that the taste won’t come out as expected. However, when Cici suggested we start with biryani, I was up for the challenge plus I’ve had several requests from some of you to make biryani.

I have to point out that this is an intricate recipe and requires some patience since the chicken will need to be marinated for at least 3 hours or better yet overnight.

Enough with the chatting, I used boneless chicken since that’s what I had on hand.

Start with marinating the chicken.

The marinade required fried onions, so I started by frying the chicken.



Since I was just cooking for two, I halved Cici’s recipe.

As the onions are frying, you can be assembling the marinade and chicken.

My cubed boneless chicken breast pieces.

biryani3Next goes the ginger and garlic.

biryani4No coastal recipe is complete without some heart warming spices, so next I added some cardamon pods, cloves, cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks.

biryani5Add the plain yoghurt.

biryani6Once your onions are fried, until golden. I have to confess mine aren’t exactly there but oh well the biryani was still delicious.

'not golden fried onions'
‘not golden fried onions’

Add half the fried onions.

biryani9Add the tomato paste and the masalas. The recipe called for tandoori masala and garam masala.

tomato paste
tomato paste
tandoori masala
tandoori masala
garam masala
garam masala

Before stirring everything together, add one final ingredient, saffron.

Now, in case you’ve never heard of saffron, one interesting fact to note is that it’s one of the most expensive spices on earth. Yep!! Those tiny strings are sold by weight and cost a pretty penny. The great thing is, a little goes a long way so I say go out and buy some. I got mine from India, a friend of mine was there and I’d sent her some. You can however get the spice at Healthy U stores here in Kenya.

the packaging
the packaging
any guesses on the cost?
any guesses on the cost?

Add just a pinch and stir everything together.


biryani16Cover with cling film and put it in the fridge to marinate.

After marination, we are ready to cook.

Biryani is normally served with rice, so start by preparing that.

As I had earlier mentioned I am on a healthy eating journey and I’ve tried to replace all the white stuff, so these days I make brown rice, yeah! I find it very filling and nutritious.

Soak the rice, either white or brown, in water for 30 minutes.

biryani17Also soak a few strands of saffron in water and set aside.


Now we are ready to cook the biryani.

Heat some oil in a sufuria add the rest of the fried onions.

biryani19Add some tomato paste.

biryani20In goes the plain yoghurt.

biryani21Stir and cook for a few minutes.

Now add the marinated chicken.

biryani24Stir and let the chicken cook.

As the chicken is cooking, prepare the water for the rice.

I normally cook the brown rice just as I would white. Since the rice is soaked prior to cooking, I maintain the 2: 1 ratio of rice to water.

Bring some water to a boil, add some whole spices, salt and some little oil.

biryani23Once the water has boiled, drain the soaked rice and add it in.


As biryani recipes go, the rice is cooked twice, so the first time the rice is under cooked.

When the rice is cooked until 3/4 way done, turn off the heat and drain the rice.

rice draining
rice draining

The rice is then put back in the sufuria. At this stage the colouring of the rice is done, you can use red food colour on one side and orange on the other and also add the saffron soaked water and cook the rice over low heat until done.

yikes! too much red
yikes! too much red


Back to the chicken, ensure you keep stirring. The recipe called for addition of fried potatoes, I baked mine 🙂

potatoes in
potatoes in

Once cooked, taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly. Finally add some little garam masala.

biryani28Now we are ready to serve.

As you’ll notice I sort of went overboard with the red food colour in my rice.

biryani32Delicious and heart  warming.

The recipe is pretty easy to follow, so what are you waiting for, give it a try and post way.

Chicken biryani recipe.




  1. thanx now i know where to get saffron,been looking for it.i’ve always used mala will try with the yoghurt.

    • I’ve tried beef biryani once and boy was the meat tough. To be honest, I was really in a hurry to cook it so I skipped the part of marinating it with raw pawpaw, yikes!

      • yeah i know how beef can frustrate so if cooking jioni u can prepare it early in the day n let it sit in the fridge for several hours atleast this works

  2. Now thats a legit and do -able Biriani recipe….most of what people make and eat outside here is coloured rice.Saffron adds a difference and lends legitimacy to a true Biriani-a Persian classic dish.The bit on raw paw paw is because of the Papain enzyme that tenderizes the dish….so a commercial tenderizer would do just fine.Otherwise the marinade with a dash of acidic vinegar will do just fine in tenderizing the protein.

    Thanks for your blog posts!

    • Thank you very much.
      It’s so true majority of the recipes out there are devoid of the classic ingredient that make the meal.
      Oh good to learn more about the enzyme in the raw pawpaw.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. hey…nice recipe the way did you that instead of using pawpaw since some people complain about stomach issues one can use pineapple as an alternative tenderizer plus it adds a taste of sweetness

    • Oh pineapple as an tenderiser, awesome. I didn’t know I use that. Thanks I’ll try that next time I am making biryani.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *