Neels’ Chicken Biryani (easy and satisfying)

Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love

I’m going home to the States for a visit and will chow down on my mom’s (Neelam’s) food and do some sweet, sweet shopping. My mom is famous in some circles for her chicken biryani. I’m going to share with you an easy recipe that packs a punch. The reason that it’s easy is that it is a cheat- instead of mixing spices straight from your spice cupboard you use a pre-mixed packet of spices. If anyone is interested in the long version, please just email and I can give it to you. I figure if you’re not cooking your mom’s recipe for biryani you might be looking for a quicker fix

I’ll divide it into ‘Biryani’ and “Garnish.” But don’t get it twisted, the garnish is just as important as the biryani.


2 cups  basmatirice

2 bay leaves

4 green cardamoms

4 cups water

2 tbsp of ghee or butter

1 tbsp of oilive oil

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces

2 large potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces

1 onion, diced

1 inch of ginger, grated

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

½ cup of cilantro

2 small tomatoes, diced into small pieces

1 cup yogurt

1 packet of Shaan brand biryani mix (I’ve found it in the US, Berlin, and I’ve seen it in South Africa as well)

Wash rice, then soak in water for 30 minutes. Bring water to a boil, and then add bay leaves and cardamoms. Add rice, boil for 5-7 minutes, turn off heat and let rice for 10 minutes with cover on, Drain any excess water, rice should be ¾ done.

Melt butter and heat oil in a high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Fry onions until translucent, about one minute. Add ginger and garlic, fry for 2 more minutes. Add chicken and potatoes, cook for 4 minutes. Then add cilantro, tomatoes, yogurt and spice mix. Mix thoroughly, cook until chicken and potatoes are finished. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C. In an oven proof casserole layer chicken and sauce then rice, then chicken/sauce and rice until you run out of both. Seal dish with aluminum foil.  Ten minutes before eating put into oven for 15 minutes. Check if rice is

Garnish: Land of Nams: living in Johannesburg, exploring the world, documenting the things I love


1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, sliced thinly into rings

½ cup cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp cashews, roughly chopped

2 tbsp raisins

2 eggs, boiled

2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced


Because it takes an hour to properly brown onions, before you start the rice heat olive oil on medium high heat. Add onion slices and brown, this will take about an hour. Crispy brown onions are amazing, and you don’t want to skimp on this step. After onions are browned, remove them from pan. Add cashews and raisins to pan and fry for 3 minutes. Slice boil eggs.

Just before eating, remove aluminum foil  and sprinkle cilantro. Spread browned onions, cashews, raisins, tomato slices, and eggs evenly around biryani.

Serve making sure to get all the layers and plenty of garnish!


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