Bombay chicken biryani

Bombay chicken biryani is a famous and incredible biryani from Mumbai. I tasted the Bombay chicken biryani first time in one of my friends house. It was delicious and words cannot describe the taste. I was delighted because the biryani was spicy, sour and even sweet because of plums (alu bhukhara). It tasted very delicious and was entirely different from our usual biryani as it has potato, chicken and alu bhukara (dry plums). But my another friend who is also from Mumbai said she does not add potatoes nor alu bhukara (dry plums) in the Bombay chicken biryani. Every one has their own family recipe. This Bombay chicken biryani is very famous in Pakistani restuarants and is prepared with spices, potato, kewra or rose water and alu bhukara (dry plums). I have prepared this Bombay chicken biryani according to my taste.

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 1 hour

Cuisine: Mumbai

Serves: 3 to 4

Spiciness: Medium


  • Chicken – 600 gms
  • Marinade

  • Curd – 1 cup
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 2 tbsp
  • Alu bhukara (dry plums) – 10
  • Chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 3 tsp
  • Cumin powder – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Mace and nutmeg powder – 2 pinches
  • Salt – as per taste
  • Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
  • Frying onion

  • Oil – for frying
  • Onion – 350 gms or 1 1/2 (big)
  • For gravy

  • Onion – 350 gms or 1 1/2 (big)
  • Oil – 1/3 cup
  • Tomatoes (medium) – 2
  • Green chillies – 4
  • Potato (big) – 1
  • For rice

  • Basmati rice – 300 gms
  • Water – 1500 ml
  • Cloves – 5
  • Green cardamom – 5
  • Cinnamon sticks (1 inch pieces) – 2
  • Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
  • Black pepper corns – 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Bay leaves (big) – 2
  • Mint leaves – 5
  • Additional ingredients/layering

  • Mint – 3/4 cup
  • Coriander leaves – 3/4 cup
  • Milk – 1/3 cup
  • Yellow colour – a pinch
  • Rose water – 3 tbsp


  • Slice the onions. Chop the tomatoes, mint and coriander leaves (with the stalk). Keep them ready. Cut potato into big chunks after peeling its skin.
  • Mix biryani colour in milk and keep it aside.
  • Frying the onions

  • Heat sufficient oil for deep frying the onions.
  • Add the onion when the oil is hot and fry the onions in 2 batches till golden brown crispy. It will take 12 to 15min each batch. Keep stirring the onions for the even colour on the onions.
  • Remove the fried onions on the kitchen tissue paper, spread it and keep it aside.
  • There are 5 stages for cooking chicken biryani.
    1. Marinating chicken
    2. Cooking chicken gravy
    3. Cooking rice
    4. Mixing gravy and rice (layering)
    5. Dum


  • Mix chicken, ginger and garlic paste, turmeric powder and other ingredients, salt in a wide bowl.
  • Refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight.
  • Cooking chicken gravy

  • Take a big utensil add oil, when it gets hot add chopped tomatoes, sauté for 3 to 4min.
  • Add the marinated chicken and left over marinade and 3/4th of fried onions mix well and cook for 8 to 10min on high flame.
  • Add potatoes and green chillies, cook on medium heat for 15 and then simmer for 10 to 12 min.
  • When the chicken is cooked, add salt, mix well, cook for 5 mins and now you can see oil forming on the top. It should not be too thin or too thick. The gravy should be adequate for the rice, while mixing.
  • In meanwhile you can cook the rice and keep it ready. Stir carefully making sure you do not break the chicken pieces. You can check in between and stir it. Add salt as per taste.
  • Cooking rice

  • Soak the rice in water for about 1/2 hr. drain and keep it aside.
  • Add 1500 ml of water to a wider vessel for preparing stock: add all the spices in the water , boil for 5min and simmer for 15min, by closing the lid. Switch off; the stock will be like tea decoction colour or light brown colour.
  • Drain the water, the stock is ready.
  • Boil the stock, when boil comes, add rice and required amount of salt.
  • Boil for about 6 to 7 mins only. The rice has to be cooked roughly about 3/4th only or 70 to 80% only . Drain the rice and rinse under cold tap water to stop further cooking.
  • While boiling, do not stir very often as the grains may break. The grains will be longer after cooking, but still raw.
  • Put the rice in the wider bowl and keep it ready for dum.
  • Mixing gravy and rice (layering)

  • When steam starts to come from the chicken curry (chicken is heated up nicely), add the rice, which is 3/4th cooked. Spread evenly on the heated chicken curry.
  • Sprinkle remaining fried onions, mint and coriander leaves, rose water and ghee(clarified butter) spread evenly and then add the coloured milk.
  • Dum

  • Heat the vessel in which you have layered the biryani for 5 mins or until you see a 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 15min, 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 bombay biryani with raita.


  • For mace and nutmeg powder: take 10 mace flowers , 1 nutmeg small , 10 green cardamom ground to powder.
  • You can reduce the chillies if you do not eat spicy food or your chillies are very hot.
  • Rice should only be 3/4th 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.
  • Instead of adding the spices in the water, boiling and straining it, you can tie the spices in a muslin cloth and put the parcel in the water. It will be a little easier to take the spices out.

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