My first attempt at Kolkata Biryani

The components required to construct the Biryani –

1. Garam Masala

2. Potato

3. Rice

4. Chicken (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 2 breast pieces cut in half) 

Garam Masala Powder

1 tbs cumin seeds (Shah Jeera)

1 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs black pepper

1 tbs white pepper

2 or 3 black cardamom

7 or 8 green cardamom

1 whole nutmeg 

2 whole mace (javetri flower)

5 or 6 whole cloves

1 inch cinnamon stick


Dry roast on a tawa/pan and grind – sieve through a muslin cloth. The above spices will yield probably enough for 2-3 times you make the Biryani.


 Peel 4 medium sized potatoes, cut in half and fry them over a high flame in some oil till the outside is golden and seared… Doesn’t need to be cooked through at this point.



2 cups of fine quality Basmati Rice (I used India Gate aged rice which they claim is less sticky – I was very happy with the outcome but any old long grained basmati should work just as fine)

Wash the rice and soak in water for around 30 minutes

Heat about 6-7 cups of water with plenty of salt till it comes to a rolling boil. Add a tsp of ghee, a few drops of lemon juice,  couple of green cardamoms, peppercorns and cloves – continue to boil for 4-5 minutes.

Add the soaked rice and cook till almost done. Drain off the excess water (reserve a cup of liquid) and cool the rice. Sprinkle a generous pinch of the garam masala powder and gently mix into the rice with a few drops of kewra water. 

This drainage method and addition of ghee ensures that the rice grains stay separate in addition to giving the rice nice and fragrant.



Soak a generous of saffron strands in half a cup of milk and set aside

Other Components 


1 onion to be sliced really fine and fry to a golden brown birista 

2 onions sliced roughly and fried to a golden pink


Trim off excess fat and make deep gashes into the chicken pieces, rub in half a tsp of the garam masala powder with 3-4 tbsp dahi, salt to taste, marinate and set aside for 30-40 minutes.

In a non stick pan, heat a tsp oil, add chicken pieces and sear off on a high flame till brown.

Add another tsp of oil, add the roughly sliced pink onions, 3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste and a cup of dahi, add 2 tsp of red chilli powder and a tsp of the ground garam masala powder. Add a handful each of chopped mint and coriander leaves. Add salt to taste

Cook these for a few minutes and strain this – grind the residue in a blender till smooth.

Mix this paste with the browned chicken pieces. 



Assembling the Biryani 

Coat a thick bottomed pan with a tsp of ghee till the vessel is coated

Arrange the potatoes at the bottom

Add a layer of the chicken pieces and the masala paste



Arrange one thirds of the rice in a layer over the chicken

Add one third of the rice colored with the soaked saffron 

Finally, add the last one third of the rice mixed with the birista

Add half a cup of the reserved rice cooking liquid and sprinkle a tsp of kewra water over the top

Cover the vessel with a tight lid sealing the edges with atta dough

Cook over a low flame for 1 hour and rest for 30 minutes thereafter

Served these with a boondi raita and tomato-onion kachumber… Cholesterol laden bliss!



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