In a previous post I have written about Hyderabadi Lamb Biryani a traditional recipe passed down from generation too generation in the royal family of the erstwhile princely state of Hyderabad. However, in this post I will talk about a recipe which you typically are unlikely to encounter in commercial establishments as it has been passed down from generation to generation among families residing in Hyderabad.

My grandfather had worked in Hyderabad and my grandmother learnt the recipe from the cities residents discussed over potlucks and high teas. On rare occasions some wedding caterers in Hyderabad would also use this recipe! She had introduced the recipe which my mother learnt and has now taught me!

The most striking aspect of this recipe is it doesn’t use ground spices but rather an emphasis is placed on herbs and a distinct flavor is generated through the combination of herbs, saffron steeped in warm milk and fried onions . The chicken is marinated with fresh herbs which are ground forming a paste. The dish is layered which is typical of most Biryanis and sealed with a pastry and cooked over a slow fire or “dum” . The flavors are quite subtle unlike the traditional royal Hyderabadi Biryani and is less intense in terms of heat. The uniqueness of Hyderabadi cooking is the “kacchi style” or cooking the meat in one pot along with the rice instead of separately and then mixing, the later being common in other varieties of Biryani.

So what do you think of this heritage Biryani recipe you are quite unlikely to come across in restaurants? Let me know in the comments below!

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani

Prep Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Cook Time: 1 minute

Serving Size: 4


  • 500 gm free range chicken ( use a mix of bone in breast and thigh pieces)
  • 500 gm Basmati rice
  • 1/2 gm saffron
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • All purpose flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 4 springs of coriander
  • 2 green chilis
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon yogurt
  • 1 large red onion julienned
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon ghee
  • Salt to season and oil for frying


  • In a food processor blitz the coriander, mint, green chillis, salt and sugar along with a little oil. Marinade the chicken wit this paste and the yogurt and set aside for an hour.
  • Fry the julienned onions in the vegetable oil till they are crispy, set aside on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.
  • Boil the rice in 2 cups of water with bay leaves and anise to add an aromatic touch. The rice shouldn't be fully cooked but rather “al dente”. Set aside the half cooked rice.
  • Steep saffron in 1 cup warm milk for about 10-15 minutes minutes. Add water to the all purpose flour and knead it to create a pastry . Set aside the pastry and saffron.
  • Grease a deep dish pan or a cast iron pot with the ghee and layer the chicken with half of the fried onion, followed by rice and the remaining fried onion.
  • Add the saffron steeped in the milk.
  • Seal the edges of the pot with the pastry and add the lid. Now slow cook it on the gas top at the lowest heat possible for an hour.
  • Break the seal and mix the rice and the chicken and serve as shown in the picture.



Heritage Cuisine: Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani