Bai biryani (Chennai style)

In Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Bai Biryani means Muslim style Biryani. Bai Biryani is special and is cooked only by good and experienced Muslim chefs. This biryani is cooked using wood (charcoal) and dum is given with coal from both beneath and above. However, I tried to recreate this bai style biryani with all the constraints and I am now happy with the results. I love to serve and savour this biryani with brinjal chutney/curry, chicken fry and raita.

The spices that go into this Bai biryani are very few compared to Hyderabadi or any other biryani. Mace (javitri) and nutmeg (jaiphal) are important in this biryani and so are stages at which the spices and herbs are added while cooking this biryani.

Preparation time: 30 mins

Cooking time: 1 hour

Cuisine: Tamil Nadu, Bai style

Serves: 3 to 4

Spiciness: Medium hot


  1. Chicken – 900 gms
  2. Oil – 1 cup
  3. Whole spices

  4. Bay leaves (big) – 3
  5. Green cardamoms (small) – 10
  6. Mace (javitri) – 2 big flowers
  7. Nutmeg (jaiphal, small pieces) – 1/2
  8. Cloves (small) – 10
  9. Cinnamon stick (2 inch) – 3 pieces
  10. For the curry

  11. Onions (big) – 2 or 350 gms
  12. Ginger – 2 1/2 tbsp or 50 gms
  13. Garlic (big) – 7 cloves or 2 1/2 tbsp
  14. Chilli powder – 2 tbsp
  15. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tbsp
  16. Green chillies (medium hot) – 10
  17. Tomato (big) – 2 or 300 gms
  18. Curd – 150 gms or 1 cup
  19. Mint – 45 gms or 1 big handful
  20. Coriander leaves – 40 gms or 1 big handful
  21. Salt – as per taste
  22. Lemon (whole) – 1 or 5 tbsp
  23. Ghee or oil – 2 to 3 tbsp
  24. For rice

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


  1. Slice the onions, chop the tomatoes, slit the green chillies, chop mint and coriander leaves (with its stalk), and keep it aside.
  2. Grind garlic to paste with its skin and peel ginger and grind to a paste, separately. My both the pastes were thick.
  3. 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.
  4. Wash the rice, soak for 1/2hr and drain and keep it aside.
  5. For the curry

  6. 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.
  7. Add sliced onions, sauté till onions are golden and transparent.
  8. Add garlic paste sauté for 3minutes till it is light golden colour.
  9. Add ginger paste and roast for 2 mins. Then add the chicken pieces and mix well with the onion mixture. Cook until the chicken is lightly sautéed. This will take about 4 to 5 minutes.
  10. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for 3 mins. Add chilli powder and turmeric powder. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes, until tomatoes becomes soft and starts to leave oil.
  11. Add half the mint leaves and all coriander leaves, sauté for 2 mins. Then add curd, green chillies and 1/2 cup water. Cook for about 20 mins by closing the lid, until chicken is cooked well and forms like gravy consistency and leaves oil. Stir the chicken curry occasionally.
  12. Simmer the flame, add remaining mint leaves or a handful and cook for about 10 to 15 mins with the lid closed. Meanwhile, cook the rice and keep it ready. Alternatively, switch off the curry to cook the rice.
  13. Cooking rice

  14. Take a wide vessel and add water, salt along with a few mint leaves and a pinch of colour. When the water starts boiling, add the basmati rice and let it cook until half done. It will take about 5 mins approximately.
  15. Switch off and strain all the water through colander and keep it aside.
  16. Mixing gravy and rice (layering)

  17. 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) and check the salt content in both.
  18. Drizzle lemon juice and ghee or oil on top of the rice, spread evenly.
  19. Dum process

  20. 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.
  21. 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 25 minutes and then switch off.
  22. The sign of whether the biryani is cooked and ready is when you can smell its aroma from the nearby rooms.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. Serve this bai biryani with raita and kathirika pachadi (ennai kathirika) also known as Brinjal ki chutney or Baigan chutney.


  1. For nutmeg, crush or break it into small pieces.
  2. You can reduce the chillies if you do not eat spicy food or your chillies are very hot.
  3. 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.
  4. The gravy quantity should be such that it should be enough for the rice when you mix it.
  5. While making gravy, no need to add water. When marinated chicken is added, it leaves water to form a gravy consistency.
  6. Carefully add salt for the gravy and rice. Divide the salt quantity and put. It will be easy for you.
  7. 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.
  8. While giving dum or simmering you can keep a flat tava below the vessel and simmer it to avoid the burning of rice.
  9. 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.
  10. Always try to add a good amount of mint and coriander leaves.