Bai biryani (Chennai style)

In Chennai (Tamil Nadu) Bai Biryani means Muslim style Biryani. Most of my friends and others may not know about bai biryani, for them one more delicious biryani, which tastes delicious and you will feel not to stop but just keep eating this biryani. Iam myself a big biryani lover and favourite one is the biryani which is served in Muslim marriages and served in small shops just for the take away only. This biryani is special and cooked by good and experienced Muslim chefs only. This biryani is cooked using wood (charcoal) and dum is given with coal from both beneath and above. How much ever I cook this biryani as the chef (bai) style, it will not come as I have to cook on the gas burner or electric hob not on the wood and the dum with charcoal, but still iam satisfied and happy with the result.

Bai biryani is quite similar to standard south Indian biryani and also similar to arcot and vaniyambadi biryani with the ingredients, but the way, it is cooked, gives you different taste. This bai biryani has also the same colour the dark tomato rice colour or brown colour, but tastes awesome only one or two spices differ like in arcot biryani only 3 whole spices are included like cloves, green cardamom and cinnamon where as in vaniyambadi biryani extra spice is there that is mace and nutmeg, other ingredients are same. As I have few friends where I have tasted different bai style biryani in chennai itself, as everyone has their own taste and cook accordingly to their family recipe.

Bai chicken biryani, my style and as per my taste. I cook my biryani quite spicy and masala type. You can cook this bai biryani as ambur style biryani as the ingredients are same except the rice and the method of boiling. Bai chicken biryani is always served with kathrika Pachadi (ennai kathrika) also known as Brinjal ki chutney or Baigan chutney in Chennai. In this biryani recipe, I have used basmati rice, which is cooked 50% and then mixed in the chicken curry , not layered and then giving dum. Cook the biryani as per the instructions and the ingredients and the order of adding the spices, which gives you awesome taste and delicious bai biryani. In this bai biryani, I have grounded garlic paste with skin little coarse and ginger paste separately. You will love this biryani as it is spicy and scrumptious. Enjoy making biryani at home for the whole family, you will be more satisfied.

Preparation time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 1 hour

Cuisine: Tamil Nadu, Bai style

Serves: 3 to 4

Spiciness: Medium hot


  • Chicken – 900 gms
  • Oil – 1 cup
  • Whole spices

  • Bay leaves (big) – 3
  • Green cardamoms (small) – 10
  • Mace (javitri) – 2 big flowers
  • Nutmeg (jaiphal, small pieces) – 1/2
  • Cloves (small) – 10
  • Cinnamon stick (2 inch) – 3 pieces
  • For the curry

  • Onions (big) – 2 or 350 gms
  • Ginger – 2 1/2 tbsp or 50 gms
  • Garlic (big) – 7 cloves or 2 1/2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder – 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 tbsp
  • Green chillies (medium hot) – 10
  • Tomato (big) – 2 or 300 gms
  • Curd – 150 gms or 1 cup
  • Mint – 45 gms or 1 big handful
  • Coriander leaves – 40 gms or 1 big handful
  • Salt – as per taste
  • Lemon (whole) – 1 or 5 tbsp
  • Ghee or oil – 2 to 3 tbsp
  • For rice

  • Basmati rice – 500 gms
  • Water – 1 1/2 litres
  • Mint leaves – 15 or few
  • Biryani colour (saffron, optional) – a pinch


  • Slice the onions, chop the tomatoes, slit the green chillies, chop mint and coriander leaves (with its stalk), and keep it aside.
  • Grind garlic to paste with its skin and peel ginger and grind to a paste, separately. My both the pastes were thick.
  • I have taken only chicken leg pieces; you can take the whole chicken pieces also. Make a slit on the chicken pieces so that the masala of biryani while cooking goes well.
  • Wash the rice, soak for 1/2hr and drain and keep it aside.
  • For the curry

  • Heat the big wider vessel, add oil as per your requirement, when hot, add all the whole spices bay leaf, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon stick, mace and nutmeg, let it splutter.
  • Add sliced onions, sauté till onions are golden and transparent.
  • Add garlic paste sauté for 3minutes till it is light golden colour.
  • Add ginger paste roast for 2 min and then add the chicken pieces mix well with onion mixture and cook until the chicken is lightly suated , it will take 4 to 5minutes.
  • Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for 3min, add chilli powder, turmeric powder, mix well and cook for 5 minutes, until tomatoes becomes soft and starts leaving oil.
  • Add half the mint leaves and all coriander leaves, sauté for 2mintues, and then add curd and green chillies and water ½ cup, cook for 20minutes by closing the lid, until chicken is cooked well and forms like gravy consistency and leaves oil. In between stir the chicken curry.
  • Simmer the flame, add remaining mint leaves again or a handful and cook for 10 to 15min minutes again by closing the lid, in meanwhile cook the rice and keep it ready or switch of the curry to cook the rice.
  • Cooking rice

  • Take a wider vessel add water and salt as required, with few mint leaves and a pinch colour, when the water starts boiling add the basmati rice and let it cook half done, it will take 5 minutes approximately.
  • Switch off and strain all the water through colander and keep it aside.
  • Mixing gravy and rice (layering)

  • When the chicken curry (chicken is heated up nicely) is ready, add the rice, which is 50% to 60% cooked, mix it entirely with the chicken curry (gravy), check the salt content in both.
  • Drizzle lemon juice and ghee or oil on top of the rice, spread evenly.
  • Dum process

  • Check for the little steam escaping from the sides. Alternatively just keep your hand near the rice to check whether it is getting hot or not.
  • If you are able to see some steam, from that point onwards quickly close the lid with aluminium foil or keep some heavy weight on the lid or close it with a cloth and then the lid. Simmer for 20 to 25minutes, switch off.
  • The sign of whether the biryani is cooked and ready is when you can smell its aroma from the nearby rooms.
  • Switch off and let it rest for 15 mins. Do not open the lid immediately because the steam inside the vessel will continue to cook the biryani and prevent the steam from escaping.
  • When the biryani is cooked, you need to be careful while serving. Take the biryani out with a wide spoon or a saucer slowly from one side to prevent the rice grains from breaking.
  • Serve this bai biryani with raita and kathrika pachidi (ennai kathrika) also known as Brinjal ki chutney or Baigan chutney.


  • For nutmeg, crush or break it into small pieces.
  • You can reduce the chillies if you do not eat spicy food or your chillies are very hot.
  • Rice should only be 50% to 60% cooked, the grain might have become longer than its usual size, but when pressed with fingers you should feel that is not fully cooked. While cooking the rice you can add few drops of oil . While draining, wash it under cold water to keep the rice grain separate.
  • The gravy quantity should be such that it should be enough for the rice when you mix it.
  • While making gravy, no need to add water. When marinated chicken is added, it leaves water to form a gravy consistency.
  • Carefully add salt for the gravy and rice. Divide the salt quantity and put. It will be easy for you.
  • For making any biryani, you can maintain from 2:1 to 1:1 chicken to rice ratio. For example, you can use 500 gms to 1 kg of chicken for 500 gms of rice. Obviously, you need to adjust the spices appropriately.
  • While giving dum or simmering you can keep a flat tava below the vessel and simmer it to avoid the burning of rice.
  • Always take the biryani out with a wide spoon, mix slowly from one side only. Mix it from downwards and then from sides, so that the gravy and rice is mixed well. As soon as you open the lid you can see that the full flavour and aroma comes from the biryani.
  • Always try to add mint and coriander leaves good amount.

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