Green Chicken Biryani

  • For the masala spice paste
  • 120g fresh coriander, leaves and stems, washed
  • 3 sprigs mint, leaves only and washed
  • 15 large basil leaves, washed
  • 3 sprigs of tarragon, washed
  • 1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
  • 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled or scrubbed
  • 2-4 green chillies
  • 1 heaped tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp white poppy seeds or 2 tbsp cashew nuts
  • For the chicken
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 small shaving of cassia/cinnamon bark or a small piece of cinnamon stick
  • 750g jointed pieces of chicken, skinned
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • For the rice pilaf
  • 1 generous tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion sliced
  • 1 piece cassia/cinnamon bark or 1 medium cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • 300g basmati rice, washed well and soaked for 30 minutes
  • 550ml water
  • Salt to taste
  • 25g butter plus a little extra for greasing
  • Pinch of saffron soaked in 2 tbsp of hot milk for 20 mins (optional)
  • 2 large handfuls of crispy fried sliced onions (optional)

For the masala spice paste:

1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chicken and sear on all sides over a high flame, about 2 minutes. Stir in the masala paste and salt and bring to the boil. Cover and cook over a low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 25-35 minutes depending on the size of the chicken joints.

2. Give the pot a good stir every 5-7 minutes; more frequently as the sauce thickens. Check for when the liquid in the pan reduces and needs a little water but never add too much. There should be plenty of creamy gorgeous green gravy in the final dish but it should not be watery. If too runny, boil over a high heat for a couple of minutes to reduce. Stir in the lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

For the Rice Pilaf:

1. Heat the ghee or oil in another large non-stick saucepan. Add the onion and the whole spices and cook over a medium heat until well browned. Add the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, then add the water and stir well.

2. Season with salt, stir, and taste the water to make sure it is enough. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down very low, cover and cook for 7-8 minutes. Try a grain - it should be just cooked but not soft. Take off the heat and leave to steam for 3 minutes with the lid on and another 3 minutes with it off.

3. Grease a large lidded baking dish with butter. Spoon in half the rice, top with the chicken, then the fresh herbs and finally the remaining rice. This can be kept for a few hours until cooking time or even covered and placed in the fridge overnight.

4. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 200°C. Dot the butter evenly over the surface and drizzle over the saffron milk, if using, cover well with foil and then the lid so the steam stays within.

5. Place in the oven and heat through, 20 minutes if it is freshly prepared or up to 40 minutes if it is cooked from cold. Serve hot, garnished with fried onions.

Recipe courtesy of Kenwood's Around the World in 80 Plates

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