Recipe: Simple Chicken Biryani

We’ve discovered that it’s way cheaper per pound/kilo to buy a whole chicken, roast it, eat some, then create another tasty dish with the leftover meat. In the past, we’ve used leftover chicken for buckwheat noodle salad and borshch, among other things. This week, I wanted to try something new. After scouring a few of my favorite food blogs, I settled on this Fragrant Chicken Biryani because we had almost all of the ingredients and it would make enough to feed us for another meal or two. And since roasting a whole chicken is pretty darn frugal, I thought it appropriate to use one of frugal feeding‘s recipes.


At its most basic, biryani is a spiced rice dish with vegetables and/or some kind of meat. The technique is simple: Sauté onions and spices, cook some rice, add some meat or veggies, stir them all together, then pop them in the oven for 20 minutes. Voila: a one-dish meal!


I followed frugal’s original recipe pretty closely, though we used more chicken and added leftover roast potatoes, which led us to adjust the spice measurements. We used brown rice in place of basmati. The biryani tasted delicious — F couldn’t stop nibbling at it, and each of us had a second helping. “Fragrant” is definitely a great way to describe this dish; turmeric lends a pleasant yellow color, coriander keeps things bright, red pepper flakes give it a kick, and the cinnamon deepens the flavors. You’ll love it.


[Back to frugality for a second: the 1.9-kg chicken we roasted, which cost about £8, fed us (generously) for 6-7 meals: Sunday dinner for each of us, Monday lunch for F, and Monday dinner as biryani with 1-2 portions leftover.]

Simple Chicken Biryani (adapted from this recipe)


  • sunflower or other neutral oil, for sautéing
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • to taste: fresh ginger, grated
  • 1.5 cups rice (I used brown rice, but traditional biryani calls for basmati)
  • 2-4 cups leftover chicken, shredded into bite-sized pieces
  • optional: 1-2 cups roasted potatoes, cut into small cubes (we had leftovers)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • handful of fresh coriander, minced


  • Start your rice cooking by covering it with 2cm (~1 inch) of water and bringing it to a boil, uncovered. Let it boil until most of the water is absorbed, then put a lid on the pot and turn the heat to low until the rest of the water evaporates.
  • In a pan over medium-low heat, sauté the onions and spices in oil, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.
  • Stir the potatoes and chicken into the onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat until the rice is done.
  • Preheat the oven to 150C (300F).
  • When the rice is cooked, add it to the pan with everything else. Add the lime juice, and stir until combined. Pop the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Stir in some fresh coriander before serving. Feel free to serve some raita or other yogurt sauce alongside.


5 thoughts on “Recipe: Simple Chicken Biryani

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