Vijaya's South Indian chicken biryani

By Vijaya Selvaraju
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Vijaya channels her mother's traditional cooking methods and shares one of her all-time favourite recipes, chicken biryani.



  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 2 star anise
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
  • 6 Thai green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, cut into four pieces
  • 1/2 a whole chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup, chopped coriander
  • 1/4 cup, chopped mint
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Salt to taste


  1. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Then soak for 20 minutes in room temperature water. This prevents the grains from breaking while they cook.
  2. In a medium Dutch oven, heat oil and ghee on medium-high heat. When hot, add all spices (cinnamon, star anise, cardamom, bay leaf, clove), and sauté until cloves puff.
  3. Add onions and sauté until they soften. Then add garlic, ginger and chilies. Cook for two to three minutes until they soften and become fragrant.
  4. Add tomato and cook for two minutes until slightly softened, followed by chicken.
  5. Season with salt to taste. Bring to a simmer, stirring often to coat the chicken, and reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook for ten minutes until chicken is cooked through.
  6. Add water and return heat to high; bring to a boil.
  7. Drain rice in a colander, and add to pot. Gently stir, adding chopped mint and coriander, and lemon juice. Return to a boil, then drop heat to low.
  8. Cover pot with aluminum foil and lid, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed.
  9. Enjoy hot with onion pachadi (plain yogurt, chopped onions, salt)!

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