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10 tips to the perfect biryani, plus two quick recipes

There are a few things you should keep in mind when making the perfect biryani

Image Credit: Grace Paras, ANM
If cooking biryani with meat, marinate with spices, salt and yoghurt to tenderise and to ensure the meat is well flavoured.
Gulf News

Dubai: Don't let the long list ingredients deter you from preparing one of the most sumptuous one-pot meals in culinary history.

There are a few things you should keep in mind, said Executive Chef Poonsak Sumonratanakul at Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel, Dubai, senior member of the Emirates Culinary Guild.

Below are his suggestions:

You want the rice fluffy with each grain separate. To achieve this, pre-soak 1 kg rice for about an hour and drain. When ready to cook, heat a pot, add 75g ghee (clarified butter), followed by the rice. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add 1.5 litres of water, cover and cook till al dente. 

Instead of cooking oil, use ghee as it will make the biryani more flavoursome.

If cooking with meat, marinate with spices, salt and yoghurt to tenderise and to ensure the meat is well flavoured. 

Instead of depending on store-purchased ready biryani spice mixes, take the effort to grid the required dry spices and store. Use when needed. It will have that distinct home-made taste. 

To avoid the biryani from sticking to the bottom of the serving dish, place sliced tomatoes as the bottom layer, and then top with biryani. 

When adding saffron, soak in a small quantity of hot water for about 10-15 minutes. When ready, use the strands as well as the water, which will add yellow colour. 

If you burn the biryani, turn off the heat immediately. Transfer the good portions into a different dish, and add dried lemon to balance out the charred flavour. 

When cooking dum style, use pastry sheets to cover the clay or copper pot. It is faster than rolling out the dough yourself. 

A mistake most people make when making biryani is overcook it. Turn off the heat at the right time. (This tine varies depending on whether you are cooking meat, vegetable or fish.) 

Lamb will result in the most flavoursome biryani, but takes the longest to cook. For quick biryanis, use shrimp or vegetable.


Quick recipes

Authentic Pakistani Biryani
Serves 3-4
Courtesy: Barbecue Delights


  • 250 gm cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp each ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 kg chicken, cut into pieces
  • 250 gm yoghurt
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1.5 liters of water
  • 2" cinnamon stick
  • 3 black cardamoms
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mace, powered
  • 1 kg basmati rice
  • Mint, a few sprigs
  • Coriander, half bunch
  • 4 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • ½ tsp yellow colour, mixed in 2 tbsp water


Heat oil in a pot. Add garlic and ginger paste. Sauté for a minute. Add chicken, yogurt and salt. Sauté for about 10 minutes until chicken is half cooked. Pour water, followed by spices and rice. Cook for 15 minutes till until the liquid is reduced. Lower the flame. Add mint and coriander leaves, and chili. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes till rice is al dente. Drizzle colour and serve.

Murg Masala Biryani
Serves 6
Courtesy: Handi, Taj Palace Hotel


  • 750 gm basmati rice, cooked with salt and drained
  • 1 kg chicken, boneless chunks
  • 55 gm ghee (clarified butter)
  • For the marinade:
  • 75 gm ginger garlic paste
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 150 gm yoghurt
  • 15 gm red chili powder
  • 8 gm turmeric powder
  • 5 gm cardamom powder
  • 2 gm each mace and nutmeg powders
  • 10 ml lemon juice
  • 1" ginger, cut into juliennes
  • 4 green chilies, deseeded and cut into juliennes
  • 20 strands saffron
  • 145 ml ghee
  • Salt, to taste

For garnish:

  • 1 onion, sliced and fried till golden
  • 12 sprigs mint leaves


Marinate chicken for a few hours. In a pot, heat ghee. Add marinated chicken and sauté on high flame for about 5 minutes, simmering further till chicken is tender. Reduce heat, add cooked rice and 50 gm ghee. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. (Do not mix.) Turn off the heat. Transfer into a serving platter, and garnish with fried onion and mint.