Chicken biryani – a good way to start using saffron

Chicken biryani is a very easy Indian recipe and a perfect change when you ate too much tikka massala recently. It is the first dish where I used saffron and i fell in love with it.

It surprised me how easy it is to make it and such an amazing blend of tastes it has.

Chicken biryani
Servings: 6
Cooking time: 35-40 min
Difficulty: easy


For the marinade

  • 500-600 g of chicken
  • 1 yogurt
  • 1 tsp of curcuma
  • 1 tsp of spicy parpika
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp of minced ginger
  • 300 g of rice
  • few stems of saffron
  • a bit of milk
  • fresh coriander and mint


  • garam massala
  • cumin seeds and cardamom pods
  • powder coriander
  • chili flakes


  1. Marinate the chicken in the yogurt and mix in the paprika and the curcuma. Season with salt and let it marinate for min 30 min to overnight.
  2. Cook the rice and let it cool down.
  3. In a big pan (ideally straight, not a wok like me) start frying some cumin seeds and cardamom pods.
  4. Add the onion in some sunflower oil until golden.
  5. Add two chopped tomatoes and press down on them so that they break down.  I always peel off the skin.
  6. You can now add the garlic and ginger, chili flakes to taste, tomato paste and 1 tsp of powder coriander.
  7. Add the chicken in the mixture. Season with extra salt if necessary and stir for 3-4 min.
  8. Put the lid on and simmer on low fire for 5 extra min.
  9. Turn off the fire.
  10. Now you can layer the chicken and add on top of it half of your rice and make sure it’s spread evenly.
  11. Sprinkle on it some saffron soaked into milk, garam massala and fresh coriander and mint.
  12. Repeat this again with rice, saffron, garam massala and the herbs.
  13. Put the lid on and simmer it on low heat for 5 min.
  14. Leave the lid on and let it rest with no fire for 10 min.
  15. It is ready to be served.