Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Thalassery Chicken Biriyani/Malabar Chicken Biriyani

I have been getting plenty of request for Malabar Chicken Biriyani recipe but it got postponed mainly because I didn't have some good pictures. I don't believe I still have some great pictures but yes I'm always trying to click the very best possible with a normal Point and Shoot digital camera. I try to add the detailed description or step-wise pics if possible which kept me away from posting this awesome Biriyani till now. Even though I still don't have a really satisfying picture I thought of posting it at-least now since I've been planning to post this from so long, in-fact every time I make it at home I decide to post it immediately and that happens on almost every Friday eve. I know some of my best buddies are even a bit offended for not posting it till now (so sorry for posting it late Deeps). Now a days I see a lot of variations in Malabar Biriyani itself, I remember last time when I went to India, for my sis wedding the biriyani was made with brick red color chicken which looked like tandoori chicken(was fried chicken pieces with masala I guess, yet to find out the recipe), it was just awesome. Malabar Bistha Biriyani(Bistha is nothing but fried onions) is yet another delicious and well known Malabar Biriyani which I love to prepare for a change from regular biriyani.  

In Malabar and many parts of Northern Kerala, Biriyani is normally made with a small rice called Kaima Rice also known as Jeerakasaala Rice or Jeera Rice which is approx half the size of Basmathi Rice. I love to make biriyani's with Jeera rice which in itself have a very nice aroma and a very unique and great taste that adds the best taste and special aroma to make the authentic Malabar Biriyani.  Its hard to find this Jeera rice in USA(though some particular Indian stores have it), I use Basmathi rice instead to make Biriyani. You can make the Chicken masala in advance and make the rice at the time required. Don't make the rice first or make the rice and keep it for long time as it loose the freshness and the aroma of ghee and spices. Biriyani is always garnished with ghee fried onions, cashews and raisins(I fry onion in normal oil only). It is mostly served with raita, beetroot pickle and coconut-coriander chutney.

Not much spice powders are used in Malabar biriyani, it is very simple and straight forward recipe. Though many people don't marinate chicken before cooking I prefer to marinate fish, chicken and Mutton atleast with salt and turmeric as I believe with salt even the inner meat get a well balanced season and turmeric helps keep poultry free from any bacteria. Normally a generous amount of Ghee/RKG is used to make Biriyani and even onions are deep fried in ghee to get a better taste. Since I make it often I use minimal amount of ghee, you can increase the amount of ghee to add more taste or reduce ghee or even substitute with low fat/cholesterol free oil(like olive oil) if you are on any specific diet. Curd/Yogurt is not used in the preparation of chicken masala, tomatoes brings in the required sourness and I generally add some freshly squeezed lime juice as well. Orange food color is mixed in water or milk and is sprinkled on top of the rice to get a yellowish mixture of rice but I use Saffron instead. You can dum the biriyani either by layering the ghee rice and chicken masala alternatively or add the masaa at the bottom of the vessel and top it with the whole rice and then dum. Now off to the Malabar Chicken Biriyani recipe, do definitely try out and Enjoy the delicacy :-)


For Chicken Masala:-
  1. One Chicken(bone in) cut into medium size pieces ~ 2.2 lbs(1Kg)
  2. Turmeric ~ ¾ tsp
  3. Chilly power ~  ½ tsp(optional, I add them mostly)
  4. Salt ~ 2 tsp(Will have to check  for the salt at the end of masala preparation and adjust)
  5. Big Onions finely sliced - 4(~ 5 cups)
  6. Tomato finely sliced - 2(~ 2 ½  to 3)
  7. Fresh Ginger crushed or finely chopped or paste ~ 2tbsp
  8. Fresh Garlic Crushed or finely chopped or paste ~ 2 tbsp
  9. Green chilies crushed or paste or finely chopped - 12 to 14 numbers(can add more to make it more spicy, I make it medium spicy)
  10. Garam Masala powder ~ 1½  tsp
  11. Coriander leaves chopped ~ ¾ cup
  12. Mint leaves chopped ~  ¼ cup
  13. Curry leaves two sprigs
  14. Freshly squeezed Lime Juice from a Lime ~ 2 tbsp
  15. Oil ~ 2 tbsp
For Ghee Rice:-
  1. Jeera Rice/Basmathi Rice - 4 Cups
  2. Water - 6 to 6 ½ Cups 
  3. Cinnamon Stick - 2 inch size broken into halves
  4. Green Cardamom Pods - 5
  5. Cloves  - 8
  6. Bay leaves 2(optional)
  7. Whole Pepper corns ~ 10 nos(optional, I like to add them though normal recipes do not call for it)
  8. Curry leaves a sprig
  9. Ghee ~ 2 tbsp
  10. Freshly squeezed Lime Juice ~ 1tbsp(optional)
  11. Salt to taste ~ 2 tsp(check and adjust accordingly)
To Garnish:-
  1. Cashews a handful
  2. Raisins a handful
  3. Finely sliced Onion - 1(~ 1 cup)
  4. Oil to deep fry onion (~ ½ cup)
  5. Saffron ~ 1 tbsp(can use orange food color instead)
  6. Milk ~ ½ cup
  7. Chopped coriander leaves ~ 2tbsp
  8. Ghee/Oil ~ 2 tsp(used at the end for layering and doing dum)
Getting Ready:-
  1. Deep fry the onion(using ½ cup oil mentioned) till golden color and set aside(don't fry till brown color as they tend to cook and change color even after taking out from the oil).
  2. You can fry cashews and raisins in the same oil if you like or saute it in ghee before making rice.
  3. Bring  milk to boil by adding saffron, simmer and let it boil for 3-4 minutes. Take off the stove and set aside.
4. Clean the Chicken, wash well, drain of the water and pat dry. Marinate with 1 tsp salt, turmeric powder, chilly powder and set aside for 30 minutes or more if possible.

Preparation Method:-
Making Biriyani's Chicken Masala:-
  • Heat up a thick bottom vessel, pour 2 tbsp oil, add the onion, ginger, garlic, green chilies, curry leaves, remaining 1 tsp salt and saute in medium heat till onion turns translucent. 
  • Add tomatoes and saute again well till they become soft and start to breakdown leaving its juice. 
  • Now add the chicken pieces, stir well to mix everything, cover with a proper lid and let it cook till chicken is almost done in low-medium heat. It should be a slow cooking process where chicken will cook in its own moisture along with onion-tomato gravy. So always let it cook in low heat.(Chicken should not be fully cooked here, It takes around 10-15 minutes and will continue to cook another 5-10 minutes after adding other ingredients)  
  • Open the lid, add the chopped coriander leaves, mint leaves, lime/lemon juice and stir well to mix. Add the garam masala powder and saute again to mix everything. Cover it with a tight lid and let it cook again so that chicken absorbs all the flavor of garam masala and other ingredients and is fully done. It takes around 5-10 minutes in low-med heat.
  • Take off the stove and set aside till ghee rice is ready.
Making Ghee Rice:-
  • Wash rice three to four times in water till you get a clear water, drain the rice fully and set aside. 
  • Heat up a wide vessel, add ghee, saute the cashews till light brown and set aside. Add the raisins and saute till they pop up, take out and set aside. 
  • Now add cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves, pepper corns and saute well till you start getting a nice aroma of spices. 
  • Pour water to it, add salt, squeezed lime juice, few curry leaves and bring to boil. Add rice, stir gently with a spatula till the bottom of the pan just to remove any sticky rice from the bottom. Simmer the heat to medium, cover with an air-tight lid and let it cook until almost done.  
  • Open the lid once the water is absorbed(rice should not be fully cooked, but will continue to cook during the dum process) and take off the stove.
  • Let it cool for couple of minutes, say around 10-15 minutes, if you try to flip or toss the rice when it is very hot it will tend to break and stick. 
  • Stir gently with a spatula when the high steam subsides, move to two-three platters so that they don't form lumps and don't stick together. This way you will get a very nice non-lumpy, non-sticky rice. Proceed for the final stage of layering and dumming :-)

Final stage: Layering and Dumming the Biriyani in low heat:-
  • Now Stove top Layering can be done in two ways

  1. very simple and my favorite way is:
  • Heat up a thick bottom pan, add 2 tsp oil(or ghee), simmer the heat to medium. Now Dump the chicken masala to the bottom, top it with half the rice, fried cashews, raisins, fried onions, coriander leaves, drizzle few drops of saffron milk all over the rice. 
  • Top it with the remaining rice, followed by cashews, raisins, fried onions, coriander leaves. Pour the rest of the saffron milk all over the rice. 
Just before doing dumm, look at the saffron milk floating on the raisins n cashews :-)
  • Cover it with an air tight lid or place a kitchen towel flatten on top of the vessel and cover to seal tight with the lid. Cook in low heat until you see steam releasing from the sides of the vessel. Its is the right time to take them off the flame, the rice will be cooked fully absorbing all the flavor of chicken masala and will be very light, fluffy with individual grains.
See the steam coming from the top sides of the vessel, not that clear though :-)

After the dum process, looks yumm right?
  • You can gently move the rice with a sauce pan or spatula from the top to the sides, take the biriyani masala from the bottom and  move to the serving plate.
  •  Now take a generous amount of rice with the saucepan/spatula and top over the chicken masala. 
  • Spread some more raisins, cashews, onions, and coriander leaves and Serve with pickle, pappads and raita. Yummy yumm 

2.  Layer Rice and Biriyani masala alternatively and dum.
  • Heat a wide vessel, keep in low heat, pour 2 tsp of oil, spread half the rice on the bottom of the vessel, top it with masala gravy and chicken, topped with fried cashews, raisins, fried onions, coriander leaves and few drops of saffron milk.
  • Repeat the process with remaing rice, masala, fried cashews, raisins, onions and saffron milk. Cover with an air tight lid and cook in low heat till steam starts to release from the sides of the pan.
  • Move to a serving plate, garnish with more raisins, cashews and fried onion. Serve warm with pappads, pickles and chutney.

Conventional Oven Method:- You can do dum the biriyani in conventional oven also. Pre-heat the oven to 350 Degree F in baking mode. Take an oven proof dish or silver foil tray, layer with half the rice, top with half the chicken masala, nuts and onions. Repeat the same process alternatively. Seal it air tight with the oven proof lid or silver foil sheet. Bake around 30-40 minutes.

Sending this to The Kerala Kitchen Event hosted by Jehanne at The Cooking Doctor


  1. wow...malabar biryani looks so yummy n inviting...well explained n excellent preparation Prathibha!!
    Spicy Treats

  2. Wow!!!!looks so tempting and perfectly made....feel like grabbing the plate.Awesome biriyani....

  3. Omg, super flavourful briyani,i dont mind to invite myself to ur place..Beautifully done.

  4. Beautiful biriyani, Prathibha .... Very delicious ,am reaching there next Friday :-)

  5. love this... IVE Also posted this recipe sometime back... and pls..... ur pic is beautiful that u r giving me a complex... :)

  6. Oh My God..... What a fantastic recipe..... Perfect n detailed explanation..... Awesome clicks

  7. Slightly different from my recipe.. :)
    But it must be good.

  8. Slightly different from my recipe..
    But it taste good..

  9. Wow..biriyani looks tempting dear...Yummm.

  10. I have no words here, Prathibha!!! Delectable!!!

  11. Real treat,mouthwatering here,etheyum favorite aa Thalaserry style biryani

  12. You know it doesn't matter "at least for me" about a picture taken from P&S as long it is a clear picture..I too have a P&S..I know pictures with dslr comes out of high quality but still I dont see myself a professional photographer..I am happy with my P&S..and that platter makes me so hungry..very neatly done there Prathibha..hugs

  13. Hi ..
    First time to ur blog..Its filled with mouthwatering recipes ..Great blog..keep going ..

  14. Mmm...flavorful & delicious..lipsmacking presentation dear..
    Tasty Appetite

  15. Yummy and tempting biriyani...perfect one..
    Shabbu's Tasty Kitchen

  16. perfectly made biriyani....looks super delicious

  17. super yummy n tempting biriryani.............

  18. Replies
    1. Thanks dear Divya for trying it. I'm really happy that it turned out well and you enjoyed it :)

  19. Yummy yummy.... can't wait to try this. Thanks for sharing thia rcipe.

  20. This is a very good recipe and you have explained the entire procedure in detail.
    I followed your recipe blindly and it came out sumptuous. I have tried around 5 recipes on the net, but this is the best one.Thanks a lot.


    1. Thanks a lot Neethu :) Glad to know it came out well..

  21. I tried out many recipes before. This one had detailed descriptions, beautiful images and step by step instructions. This turned out awesome and everyone loved it. Thanks for the effort chechi for all the detailed instruction and images. Looking forward to more awesome yummy recipes.

    1. Thanks a lot Jerry, you comment made my day. Glad to know it came out well and you loved it :)

  22. mouthwatering............

  23. Tried.....its yummy.........Thank you for sharing this recipe...


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