Green chicken biryani

Anjum Anand's unusual biryani is from one of the south-western regions of India and is a spectacular dish that deserves to be better known
By Anjum Anand
Green chicken biryani
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Effort: easy


For the masala

  • 120 g coriander leaves, and stems
  • 3 sprigs fresh mint, leaves only
  • 15 large leaves basil
  • 3 sprigs tarragon
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 7 g ginger
  • 2 green chillies, or to taste
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 8 small cloves
  • 1 small shaving cassia bark, or cinnamon stick

For the chicken

  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 750 g chicken joints, skinned
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • butter, for greasing
  • 3 sprigs coriander
  • 2 sprigs mint
  • 2 basil
  • 2 sprigs tarragon

For the pilau

  • 1 tbsp ghee, or vegetable oil
  • 1 small piece cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 300 g basmati rice, rinsed well and soaked for 30 minutes


1. For the masala: put all the masala ingredients into a food processor and blend to a fine paste.

2. For the chicken: heat the vegetable oil in a large non-stick saucepan. Add the chicken and brown on all sides over a high heat, about 2 minutes. Stir in the masala paste, 200ml of water and salt, to taste. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer over a low heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken joints.

3. Squeeze over the lemon juice, to taste, and make sure that the curry is well seasoned with salt and pepper as it will seem less so when mixed with the rice. There should be plenty of green gravy, but it should not be watery; if it is, boil over and leave to steam for 3 minutes to dry some off.

4. For the pilau: heat the ghee or oil in another large non-stick saucepan. Add the whole spices and onion and cook over a medium heat until well browned. Drain the rice and add it to the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, before adding 550ml of water. Season with salt, tasting the water to check it is enough.

5. Bring to a boil and then bring the heat down completely, cover and cook for 7-8 minutes. Taste a grain - it should be just cooked, but not soft. Take off the heat and leave to steam for 3 minutes with the lid on and then for another 3 minutes with it off.

6. Grease a large lidded baking dish with butter. Spoon in half of the rice and top with the chicken. Chop the coriander, mint, basil and tarragon together and add the fresh herbs and finally the remaining rice to the dish. This can be kept for a few hours until cooking time or even covered and placed in the fridge overnight. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6.

7. Dot a little more butter evenly over the surface of the rice, cover well with aluminum foil and then cover with the lid so that the steam stays within. Place in the oven and heat through for 15 minutes if it is freshly prepared or up to 40 minutes if it is cold. Serve hot.

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