Sunday, February 3, 2013

Chicken Biriyani–Travancore style (Serves 5)

Chicken biriyani

If anyone ask me, how they can make the best biriyani from Kerala, this recipe will be my answer. The credit for this delicious and perfect biriyani goes to Maya, my good friend who blogs at Yummy O Yummy. Our friendship started off as just fellow food bloggers, but in the last three years it has grown into a beautiful relationship. We have tried it a umteen times with occassional minor modifications each time. Every time it has turned out perfect and am sure no one can go wrong with this recipe…

Chicken 15 medium pieces (I used legs and thighs)
Red chilly powder 2 tsp
Turmeric powder ½ tsp
Coriander powder 2 tsp
Black pepper powder ½ tsp
Homemade garam masala powder 3 tsp (recipe follows)
Fresh ginger garlic paste 1 tsp
Yogurt 1 TBSP
Salt as needed

Wash and clean the chicken well, Set aside to drain water. Make a marinade with above ingredients and marinate the chicken pieces overnight or at least 4-5 hrs.

Recipe for Garam Masala

Fennel Seeds (Perumjeerakam) 2 TBSP
Cloves (Grambu) 13 – 15
Cinnamon sticks (Karuvapatta) 2 inch stick
Cardamom (Elaikka) 3 – 4
Star anise (Thakkolam) 1
Whole pepper (Kurumulaku) 15 – 20
Mace 2 nos

Add all the above into a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Store in an airtight container to keep the flavors locked.

For the Rice

Basmati rice 3 cups

Draining method: Soak the basmati rice for around 30 mts. Boil water in a deep vessel. To the boiling water add 2 tsp ghee (clarified butter), whole spices (peppercorns- 10, cloves – 6, cardamoms - 2, bay leaves-2, cinnamon stick - 2, fennel seeds – ¼ tsp, star anise - 2 and mace – 2. Add enough salt. The water should be slightly salty. Once water starts to rolling boiling add the soaked rice and cook for about 10-12 minutes. Drain the water and allow the rice to cool.

Boiling water with whole spices to cook rice

Cooking rice








To prepare chicken masala

Red Onion 2 medium, thinly sliced
Tomato 1 medium, chopped
Ginger 1 inch piece
Garlic 6-7 pods
Green chilly (thai) 8-10 (Adjust the chilies and spices according to your spice tolerance)
If using sereno peppers, add 2-3 nos
Pearl onion 5-6 nos
Whole spices – cardamom – 2, Cloves – 5-6, cinnamon stick – 1-2, bay leaves – 1-2 , pepper corns – 5-6, mace -1, star anise –1
Curry leaves 1 sprig
Mint leaves a handful, finely chopped
Coriander leaves a handful, chopped
Turmeric powder ½ tsp
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Garam masala powder ¼ tsp
Oil  2 TBSP
Salt as needed


Coarsely grind the ginger, garlic, pearl onion, green chilies and the whole spices in a mixer.

Heat around 2 – 2 ½ TBSP oil in a deep pan. Add the sliced onions and little salt. When the onion becomes light brown, add turmeric powder and coriander powder. Stir well for a minute and add the coarsely ground mixture mentioned above, few curry leaves and stir well for a few minutes or until the oil starts appearing. If it starts sticking to the bottom, bring down the heat and add little oil.

Add sliced tomato, mint leaves and coriander leaves. Cook until tomatoes are completely mashed up and oil starts appearing, about 5 - 7 mts.

Sauteed onions with ground spice mixture

Add tomatoes







Add the mint and coriander leaves

Addition of chicken








Finished chicken masala

Now add the marinated chicken, mix everything well and cover it with a lid. Do not add any water as water will ooze out from the chicken. Cook for about 10 minutes at medium flame. Bring down the flame to medium-low and cook covered until the chicken is done, stirring occasionally. It will take at least 30-45 mts for the chicken to be properly cooked. When the chicken is done, check for salt and masala. Switch off the flame.

Final Layering and garnish

Fried onions, Fried cashew nuts and raisins

You will need a cookware which can be put on stove or which is oven-safe for layering.

Smear the base of the cookware with ghee. Add a layer of rice and top it with the prepared chicken masala. Pour the gravy over the chicken pieces. Add the fried onions, cashew nuts and raisins. Now add another even layer of rice above this and top again with the chicken masala and the fried onions, nuts and raisins. Repeat the process keeping in mind that the top layer should be of rice garnished with onions, nuts and raisins. Now seal the cookware with an aluminum foil and them cover with the lid. Bake it at 350 F for around 15-20 mts or on stove top at simmer heat for the same time.

Rice topped with chicken masala

Finishes layering and garnish








Kerala chicken biriyani



  1. the beauty of biriyani is that each place has its own way of making this delectable fare... i'm definitely saving this recipe for trying.. :)

  2. Biriyani, is a favorite and love ur version.

  3. OMG your pics are great and the recipe is so good

  4. Hello,

    We bumped into your blog and we really liked it - great recipes YUM YUM.
    We would like to add it to the

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  5. Wat is sereno pepper.can we substitute normal green chilling for Thai chilli .

    1. Hi rashmi, Serrano peppers are a mexican variety available in grocery stores across US. You can very well use the regular or thai green chilly and keep in mind to adjust the number according to your spice level, I used Serrano as we dont get any another chillies where i live.



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