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Chicken Biryani from Playful Cooking

Truth be told, one of the few things that my husband and I have in common is our love for food. We enjoy cooking and eating together since our dating years. We've shared the best and worst meals of our lives...but there's nothing about food that we have ever argued about. Back when we were in the Philippines (when we didn't have the  girls yet and didn't care that much about frugality), Ryan and I used to enjoy eating out a lot! We really loved trying different cuisines...but I don't remember being able to try Indian Cuisine back then. Actually, I don't even know if there was as Indian restaurant in Manila that time. It was only here in Texas that we got our first experience with Indian food...and it was like we fell in love with it at first taste! Ryan and I both love spicy food...and with all the different herbs and spices used in Indian Cuisine, we find it perfect for our taste buds. 

For our PiTCC's Favorite Dishes from Around The World series, I want to share with you one of the Indian dishes that have become my favorite. It's called Chicken Biryani

Biryani is a dish that's popular in India and Pakistan and is made of rice, herbs, and spices as well as vegetables or meat like beef, chicken, lamb, goat, fish and shrimp. The chicken version is my favorite. I just love the aroma and texture of this dish! It's an all-in-one meal that's so tasty and comforting! 

Today, I am happy to bring you Kankana of Playful Cooking to share with us her Chicken Biryani recipe. Kankana is from India but is now living in California with her wonderful husband. I met her last year when I was just starting to blog. She has become one of my favorite bloggers not just because of her mouth watering recipes and vivid photos that never fail to amaze me, but much more because of her very warm personality that can clearly be seen on her awesome blog. I'm truly glad that she found the time to be here with us today despite her busy schedule! I really can't thank her enough! Without further ado, I give you Kankana Saxena...

Thank you Tina for making me a part of this series and it was my pleasure to prepare the Chicken Biryani for you. Hope you will enjoy it! 

I am a passionate foodie and wannabe photographer who married the most amazing man in the world and I am currently enjoying life in sunny California. My cooking is mostly healthy with little bit of indulgence here and there. We all need that in our lives, don’t we? I like fast and easy cooking and that’s what you can mostly expect to see in my blog :) 

Today, I am sharing a Chicken Biryani recipe that I learned to cook from my brother when I visited home last winter. As a kid, I remember my brother would spend more time in the kitchen than I would but this time, my little brother totally impressed me with his cooking skills. 

One afternoon, he prepared Chicken Biryani and that was the first time that I actually enjoyed biryani. The strong aroma and warm flavors made me crave for it more than ever! 

Biryani is a very popular dish in India made with rice, meat and lots of spices! There are typically two types of biryani - Kacchi/Kutchi(raw) Biryani and Pakki(cooked) Biryani. For Kacchi biryani, uncooked marinated meat and rice are layered and cooked together. For Pakki biryani, both rice and meat are partially cooked. Then, they are layered to cook for some more time and the flavors blend between the rice and meat. 

I prepared Pakki biryani and it's very much like Hyderabadi biryani. It involves a lot of steps but at the end, it will all be worth the effort!

For the rice:
  • 1-1/2 cup basmati white rice, soaked in water for about 30 minutes
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 green cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter)
  • salt
  • 2-1/2 cups water
For the chicken:
  • 1 pound chicken, cut in small pieces (with bone or boneless)
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/2 cup plain, flavorless yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons oil
Few more ingredients:
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • handful of finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 big red onion, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee

1. In a big bowl, mix chicken with all the ingredients mentioned under ingredients for chicken. Let it marinade for at-least 4 hours (preferably overnight).
2. Heat some oil in a pan and cook sliced onion until they are brown in color. Drain them in a tissue and leave it aside for later use.
3. Mix milk and saffron in a tiny bowl and let it rest.
4. In a deep pan, heat 1 tablespoon ghee and drop all the spices mentioned under ingredients for rice. Once they start to release the flavor, drain the soaked rice and drop it in the pan.
5. Give it a stir, add some salt and then, add water. Stir it once and bring the water to a boil. Simmer and let it cook until all the water gets absorbed. The rice should be about sixty percent cooked. Keep it aside once done.
6. In a separate pan, heat the oil and drop 1 star anise and 1 cinnamon stick. Once it starts to release the flavor, drop the marinated chicken along with all the juices left in the big bowl.
7. Let it cook until the chicken gets brown in color and oil starts to release. Check for salt and add more if required.
8. The final step is to layer the chicken and rice and cook them. It can either be done either in an oven or on a stovetop. I used the oven.
9. Take a baking dish and spread half of the cooked chicken along with some of the sauce. Drizzle 1 tablespoon ghee (clarified butter) on top.
10. Layer half of the cooked rice and pour one tablespoon of the saffron milk over it. On top of the rice, add half of the chopped mint leaves and half of the caramelized onion.
11. Repeat another layer of chicken and rice following the exact same steps.
12. Take a heavy-duty aluminum foil and cover the baking dish tightly. Use another foil on top, if required. Cook in the oven at 350 F for about 30 minutes. Serve warm with some yogurt on the side.

~ ~ ~ o o o ~ ~ ~

Mmmmm...that Chicken Biryani truly looks delicious! Thanks again Kankana for sharing your recipe with us!

For more mouth-watering recipes and stunning food photos, do check out Kankana’s website, Playful Cooking. You'll truly be amazed with how good she is both as a cook and a photographer...and her recipes and photos will surely bring sunshine and smile to your life! You can also connect with her via Twitter and Facebook.



  1. That looks and reads amazingly yummy!

  2. Chicken biriyani looks delicious Tina. I agree with you Kankana is good photographer and cook.

  3. Thank you Tina for all those lovely words and Thanks a lot for making me a part of this series. I am so glad you liked it :)

    1. The pleasure is mine, Kankana! I'm truly honored to have you here! A million thanks for the very wonderful guest post!

  4. This dish looks amazing! The spices combo sounds fantastic! Thank you for sharing!

  5. I love Indian cuisine, but don't cook it often enough. This chicken biryani looks so gorgeous and appetising, I want to spend hours in my kitchen and cook Indian all night long.

  6. I have had this dish one time at a restaurant and it was very tasty. I did not realize all the steps involved, but if you know of the delicious end result you will not even notice all the steps! Glad you featured Kankana here, she did bring along an inspiring recipe-yum!

  7. What a great post Tina,I love Indian foods,I have one favorite restaurant here "Taste of India"
    @ kankana : chicken biryani sound flavorful,looks mouth watering too !!


  8. Tina , even that photo of spices looks mouthwatering ! lol A very delicious guest post ! :D

  9. Yum!!
    I am glad to see Kankana here,her food and photography both are absolutely delicious!!!
    Biryani looks fabulous, I am so craving this now.

  10. It's a funny coincidence that I made Chicken Biryani for dinner last night!:-) I am a Biryani lover though mostly when eating out I prefer to have Mutton Biryani. I always ate it outside or cooked by Mom until about 5 years ago when I finally tried my hands on it. You are so right that it takes time (and patience) to get it right.
    I never thought of baking it in the oven - That's a great idea! I usually put it on a tawa and cover the pot with aluminum foil, then put something very heavy on it to allow it to cook.
    Love the rice shot, the spices shot and the 2nd last one. the lighting is perfect!! - great work:)

  11. That dish looks and sounds absolutely fantastic! I love Indian food and all its rich aromatic spices, but I've always been a bit scared to cook it at home...:P

  12. The perfect recipe and dish because we love Indian food so much. This beriyani is simply splendid and one which we also try out when eating out.

  13. I am amazed at the photos..and I do agree that the recipe sounds intricate but in the same way, we also have filipino dishes like paella or valenciana which also require meticulous preparation. and I do enjoy biryani and this can really be a dish that I wouldn't mind eating every other day(wag naman everyday. haha!)

  14. This biryani looks amazing! Wonderful guest post =)

  15. isn't Kankana awesome! I just love her blog and pics! Wonderful guest post

  16. So fun to have your hubby cooking together with u. I've been invited to a cooking event tmr with my hubby & I'm really looking fwd to it. It's really a great bonding event. I'm happy for u too, dear!

  17. Yum. I love a good biryani and this one you made here looks great! Thanks for sharing :)

  18. I love Indian food and this is such a great guest post, Tina. I am a fan of Kankana's cooking and her beautiful photography. Thank you ladies for sharing this wonderful recipe.

    ~ ray ~

  19. What a super biryani for a light dinner - lovely recipe my friend :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  20. Beautiful recipe Kankana, I just love these warm spices!

  21. Kankana is one of my favorite bloggers! Her pictures and recipes are just too good and this one is no exception. great to see her here! :)

  22. This is a classic recipe. I have never tried it yet but the photos just made me really hungry! Great post from Kankana!

  23. Hi Tina! I also enjoy Kankana's blog and her beautiful photography. Kankana, you are NOT "wannabe" photographer because you ARE already a great photographer! Your chicken biryani looks so delicious!

  24. Hi Cristina, I come from Kankana's lovely blog- Everything looks absolutely beautiful and delicious. Wonderful recipe and clicks :)

  25. wow have made the biryani just perfect !!!!n the clicks r just too good !!!!!!!wonderful presentation !!!!!

    1. This is a guest post from Kankana of Sunshine and Smile. She was the one who made this delicious Chicken Biryani. :)

  26. I really enjoy this recipe of yours. Look so delicious and very easy to make. Gonna try this one .. Anyway , thank you for sharing :)

  27. This sounds really delicious and something new to try. Thanks for sharing.


  28. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe. It makes me appreciate Indian foods like biryani, kebab and kulcha. My wife is an Indian and I am interested to know more about her culture. She took me to an Indian food restaurant called Kulcha King and I fell in love with the food, especially their biryani and kulcha.