Vivek Singh’s Lucknow-style chicken biryani

A traditional dum cooked biryani is a classic family dish, suitable for entertaining big numbers and the perfect one pot dish.

Our Lucknow-style biryani is an attempt to simplify this otherwise complex dish. Pre-cooking the chicken and assembling the rice and meat in a casserole pot ensures a quicker, simpler, safer result each time!


250g basmati rice

For the marinade:
2 medium onions, sliced and deep fried until golden
1 tbsp Bart Infusions Ginger Paste
1 tbsp Bart Infusions Garlic Paste
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
nutmeg, grated
6 green chillies, slit length ways
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp vegetable oil
150g natural yogurt
75 ml single cream
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

For the saffron mix:
Pinch saffron
100ml warm milk
50g ghee
1-2 tsp rose water

750g chicken thighs, skin and bones removed and cut in half (or 1 pack 6 chicken thigh fillets, halved)

Spices for boiling:
5 green cardamoms
2 bay leaves
4 cloves
2 blades of mace
1 tbsp cumin seeds
3 tsp salt

½ x 25g pack fresh mint, chopped
½ x 28g pack fresh coriander, chopped

For the cucumber raita:
1 cucumbers deseeded and cut into 1cm cubes
350g natural yogurt

1 tsp cumin seeds, roasted and crushed
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Seeds from ½ pomegranate


1. Wash and soak the rice for 20 minutes in cold water.

2. Mix all the ingredients for the marinade, add to the chicken thighs and set aside for 15-30 minutes. Meanwhile soak the saffron in warm milk, then mix in the ghee and rosewater after 3-5 minutes.

3. Put the chicken and marinade into a casserole dish, and bring to a simmer over a low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes until the chicken is tender.

4. Pour about 1½ litres of water into a saucepan, add the whole spices and salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes or so. Now add the drained soaked rice and boil for about 8-9 minutes.

5. The rice should be 80-85% cooked. Drain the rice and layer over the marinated cooked chicken.

6. Sprinkle with some chopped mint and coriander, pour over the soaked saffron mix then cover the casserole with a lid. You may wish to seal the lid using some dough to create a pressure-cooking effect.

7. Now put the casserole on a low heat for 5-7 minutes until steam starts escaping from the lid, then remove from the heat.

8. To make the raita, put the cucumber and remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix them thoroughly. The raita should be not be too thick or thin in consistency. Leave it in the fridge for about 20 minutes and served chilled.

9. Leave the casserole aside to rest for 5 minutes after taking it off the heat.

10. Serve with the cucumber raita.

  • Preparation time: 20 minutes plus soaking and marinating
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 50 minutes plus soaking and marinating

Serves: Serves 4-6 as a main course

4 stars

Average user rating Based on 1 rating

This recipe was first published in Thu Jun 12 15:43:00 BST 2014.