Chicken biryani cooked over fire

Chicken biryani cooked over fire

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  • 6
  • Medium
  • 20 minutes, plus overnight marinating time
  • 1 hour

This is my Granny's famous biryani recipe. It always brings back memories of family, friends laughter and celebrations.


  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/2 cup fried onions
  • 1 1/2 cupa double-thick plain yoghurt 
  • 3 t coarse sea salt
  • 3 t cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 t fresh turmeric, grated
  • 3- 5 heaped t red masala (a paste of red chilli, ginger and garlic) 
  • 2 t paprika
  • 4 sticks cinnamon 
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 star anise
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 2 - 3 whole long green chillies 
  • 3 t white vinegar 
  • 1 free-range chicken
  • 4 -5 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 600 g basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup preboiled masoor (brown lentil dhal)
  • saffron, a pinch
  • 3 t ghee
  • 2 cups plain double-thick yoghurt
  • 30 g fresh coriander
  • salt, a pinch
  • 1 long green chilli
  • 1/4 t cumin 
  • Fried onion, to garnish
  • For the dhai
  • 2 cups double think yoghurt
  • salt, to taste
  • 15 g fresh coriander
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1 t cumin

Cooking Instructions

1. Blend the carrots, fried onions and yoghurt until smooth. Mix with the salt and spices.

2. Divide the chicken into 8 pieces. Mix the spice mixture with the chicken and potatoes and marinate for 12–24 hours.

3. Parboil the rice.

4. Generously oil a heavy-based cast-iron pot with your hand to prevent the chicken from sticking. Sprinkle ¼ cup of the masoor, then layer the marinated chicken and potatoes to cover the bottom of the pot. Reserve the excess marinade.

5. Add three-quarters of the rice and the remaining 1/4 cup boiled masoor to the excess marinade and mix well, coating all the rice. Layer this over the chicken in the pot.

6. Place the remaining rice on top of the masala rice so that you only see white rice. Sprinkle a large handful of fried onion over the rice.

7. Mix the saffron with 1/2 cup boiling water. Pour over the contents of the pot in a circular motion. Add the ghee in the same manner.

8. Cover the pot with its lid and seal with foil. If you’re cooking over a fire, use a flour-and-water solution to make a dough and seal the edges of the pot.

9. Cook over a high heat for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 45 minutes.

10. Make the dhai by blending the ingredients together until smooth.

11. Remove the biryani from the heat and serve with the dhai.

Cook’s note: Biryani is also served with fried poppadoms and kachumber salad (fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, lemon juice and sometimes chilli).

Find more Ramadan and Eid recipes here.


Mohammed Adam Recipe by: Mohammed Adam
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Mohammed Adam is the co-owner of Conscious Meat Merchants, a butchery based in Cape Town.

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