Baby Jaan’s Chicken Biryani Recipe

Baby JaanWhen Baby Jaan, a member of my mum’s entourage in India, decided to make chicken biryani for me, Vimal – head girl of the aforementioned entourage – had two conditions for her:

  1. The biryani had to be made in our kitchen under Vimal’s eagle eye.
  2. Baby Jaan had to discuss the recipe with Vimal beforehand so that Vimal could audit it and make sure that it contained ingredients we liked.

Baby Jaan was game and quite sporting about the fact that suddenly the recipe passed down from her grandmother included a marinade for the chicken (because I don’t like eating non-marinated chicken) and fried potatoes as a garnish at the end (everyone is familiar with the husband’s potato issues).

Here is how she made the biryani:


For the marinade

  • ½  a stem of ginger, cut very fine
  • 6 cloves garlic, cut very fine
  • 2 chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 fistful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • ½ an onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbs. of plain white yoghurt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp. salt

Other ingredients

  • 500 gms. boneless chicken cut into small pieces
  • 2 tomatoes chopped into small pieces
  • 4 onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 an onion finely sliced for the garnish
  • 5 big potatoes cut into small chunks
  • Fresh garam masala made by blending the ingredients below in a mixer with a tablespoon of water
  • 1 tbs. turmeric
  • 3 cardamoms
  • 10 cloves
  • 4 pods of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. of cumin seeds
  • 1 fistful of fresh coriander
  • 2 green chilies finely chopped
  • 2 sliced green chilies
  • 750 gms. washed and drained basmati rice
  • A proportionate amount of hot water for the rice (for basmati it is 2 parts of water to 1 part of rice)
  • 8 tbs. sunflower oil (this also includes the oil used for deep frying the potatoes and the onions)


  1. Put the marinade on the chicken and leave in the fridge for about 4 hours before you start cooking.
  2. Take the marinated chicken out of the fridge and bring to room temperature before you cook.
  3. Heat some oil in a pan and deep fry the onion pieces reserved for the garnish  so that it looks like this.fried onions
  4. In another pan, take some more oil and deep fry the potatoes like so but they should be brown when you are done.aloos
  5. Now, in a saucepan (large enough to fit all the ingredients and the rice) heat up some oil and fry the onions and the chilies.
  6. When they are soft and brown, fry the tomatoes until the onion and tomato mixture has homogenized.
  7. Put in the garam masala and salt and fry for a couple of minutes, turning the mixture thoroughly.
  8. Next, add in the marinated chicken and fry until the chicken is semi-cooked.
  9. Now add in the rice, stir for a minute and then add in the water.Biryani boiling
  10. Cover with a lid and wait for the water to evaporate (but not completely).
  11. Put in the potatoes and mix.
  12. Put in the onion garnish at the top and cover with a tawa  (an Indian griddle) until the rice is cooked completely.
  13. Garnish with a little bit of coriander and serve hot with yoghurt or mint raita. baby biryani

Everyone (including Vimal) agreed that this was one of the best biryanis we have eaten and could score 5/5 on the biryanometer . The most vociferous supporter was the husband (or “Jiju” – brother-in-law – as Baby Jaan calls him) who said that for this biryani he wouldn’t have been that fussed about lack of potatoes if emergency measures hadn’t been put into place by Vimal. As if.

Baby Jaan has just made our quest for the perfect biryani here in London harder.