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Hyderabadi Chicken Dum Biryani

Feb 21st, 2009 | By | Category: All Recipes, Chicken Recipes, Featured recipes, Rice & Biryani Recipes

This is the first dish I tasted on my visit to hyderabad after my wedding. I have fallen in love with this authentic and elegant delicacy since then. It is worth spending time to make this at home and watch your loving ones relish the dish. Hyderabadi dum biryani is a signature dish from hyderabad, the city of pearls and is said to be a blend of mughal and persian cuisine. Basmati rice cooked with layers of marinated chicken or meat in a wide, heavy bottomed vessel on a low flame, is where it gets the taste from. This process of cooking is also known as “Dum” .

Cooking basmati rice nice and fluffy make your rice dishes look more beautiful. A little practice is all you need to cook this beautiful long grain rice. Here are a few tips for cooking basmati rice.

  • Wash rice two to three times under cold water to remove the starch.

  • soak rice for atleast 30mts in plenty of water. This allows the rice to expand and cook without breaking during cooking.

  • Add a tbsp of butter or oil to the boiling water while cooking rice. This would make the grains separate.

  • Make sure you cook the rice in a wide bottomed pan and do not disturb the rice by stirring in between. This would result in breakage of the rice.

  • Let the cooked rice rest for a while before serving it.

There are 3 basic steps for cooking a delicious hyderabadi chicken dum biryani.

  • Marinating the chicken

  • Half cook the basmati rice

  • Layering chicken and rice together for the biryani.

    Note: Please adjust the marinade ingredients according to your spice levels.

    Now lets get into the things we need for these 3 steps.

For the Marinade

Chicken – 1 lb (about ½ kg) skinned, washed and cut into cubes. Boneless

chicken can also be used but I prefer to use whole chicken with bones. Make sure you drain all the water after washing the chicken.

Ginger & Garlic Paste – 2 tsps

Mint leaves (pudina) – 10 sprigs finely chopped

Coriander leaves – 10 sprigs finely chopped

Saffron – 2 pinches soaked in ¼ cup of milk

1 onion – finely sliced and deep fried till dark brown. (see pics)

yoghurt – ¾ cup ( I used a measuring cup)

chilli powder – 2 tbsp

Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp

garam masala – 2 tbsps (if using store bought, lightly roasted in a pan on low heat for 30 secs)

juice of 1 big lemon (about 4 tbsps)

Oil – ¼ cup

Salt – ½ tsp

Oil for deep frying the onions – ¼ cup (do not use left over oil in the marinade after frying onions. discard or save it for a different dish)

For the rice

Basmati rice – 2 cups ( I used a measuring cup). Wash under cold water and soak for 30 mts then drain the entire water in a strainer and set aside

Whole green Cardamom – 4

Cloves – 3

Black cumin seeds (Shahi jeera) – ¾ tsp

Bay leaves – 2

Biryani flower ( Anasapuvvu) – 1

Black pepper corns – 4

Butter/oil/ghee – 1 tbsp

Salt – 4 tbsps

Water for boiling – 10 cups ( I used a measuring cup)

A wide & deep sauce pan to cook rice

For cooking in layers

1 wide heavy bottomed deep vessel / pot

A large dosa pan / flat bottomed skillet

Pinch of red orange color dissolved in 2 tbsps milk or water (optional)

Alluminium foil or a wet towel (squeeze the entire water) to cover the pan. Alternatively you can use whole wheat flour dough to seal the edges so that the steam does’nt escape.

Now that you have all the ingredients ready. Lets take a peek at the recipe.

– In a sauce pan heat about 1/4 cup of oil and deep fry onions as shown in the below pics till dark brown. Remove the onions and drain them on the kitchen towel. Once cool, crush them and set aside. They are ready to  be mixed in the marinade. Alternatively you can use store bought fried onions too. (Do not use left over oil in the marinade)

The first step is marinating the chicken:

In a large bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients till well combined. Cover and let it rest for an hour or overnight if you have some time. This would let the chicken absorb all the flavours of the spices and enhance the taste of your biryani.

Cooking the basmati rice:

While the chicken is marinating, place a deep sauce pan on the stove with 10 cups of water on high flame. When the water gets to boil, throw in the spices (cardamom, cloves, shahijeera, bay leaves, bay flower, pepper corns, butter, and salt) and cook for a minute. Now gently add in the drained rice to the boiling water and let it cook on high flame till another boil (takes 4 mts).

Immediately drain the rice along with the spices in a strainer. Let all the water drain off. Set aside.

OK, show time now, cooking both the chicken and rice together. But now that everything is ready, this is going to be a cake walk. Trust me. You can do this. Its EASY.

Place a heavy wide bottomed deep pot or vessel on the stove top and turn it on high flame. Allow the pot to get hot for about a minute.

Now arrange the entire marinated chicken at the bottom of this pot. This is your first layer.

Then arrange the half cooked rice on top of the chicken. This is going to be your second and last layer.

On top of the rice, add about 2 – 3 tbsps of oil. Cover the pot with a lid and cook on high heat for 3 to 4 mts. Do not cook more than that because your chicken might get burnt.

Meanwhile heat a dosa pan/flat bottomed skillet on high heat till the pan is hot. Once hot reduce the flame to the lowest setting and place the chicken and rice pot on the tawa.

Remove the lid and pour in the red orange color water around in the center. This would give your rice the restaurant style look with some of the rice grains looking orange in color. Who would’nt want to surprise their guests with such looks!!!

Now seal the pot with an alluminium foil or a wet towel (squeeze all the water) or using the traditional whole wheat dough method. This allows the flavors of your chicken and rice to remain inside. Cook for 30 mts undisturbed on the tawa on the lowest setting. Switch of the flame and let it rest for 10 mts.

Just before serving open the lid, gently mix in the chicken at the bottom with the rice. serve it hot with mirchi ka salan or raita and enjoy.

I could’nt post the recipe for mirchi ka salan right away but promise to surely do it in my next posts. Meanwhile do try the recipe and let me know how you liked it.

Update 12/13: Thanks all for the overwhelming response for my recipe. For those of you who have requested for the homemade garam masala recipe here it goes:

(dry roast on low flame for 2 to 3 minutes the below and grind to a fine powder, then add it to the marinade)

2 cloves/lavangalu

1/2 ” cinnamon stick/dalchini

2 cardamom/elaichi

tiny piece of star anise (about 2 petals)

1/4 tsp shahi jeera

5-6 pepper corns

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  1. hi if I am doubling this recipe do I double the cooking time?

  2. Hi

    The cook time remains the same. Please make sure you are using a vessel that fits the ingredients though.


  3. good evening mam,
    actually madam i am planning to make the biryani for 25 people so can u please email the measuements in detail. ??

  4. Hi, Sowjayna! I am writing from Argentina! I step into your site today looking for a briyani and pum! Found this great easy to follow recipe with all these lovely comments from your public. You are awesome!!! I am going to try this recipe tonight for 10 friends. There will be no other side dishes to it, is it possible for you to email me the quantities for this matter? I thank you so much for your kindness…!

  5. Hi Angeles

    Thanks you for the lovely comments. will send out an email shortly.

  6. Made it last night for a grp of ten…. Sowjanya sent me the meassures and it was a full success… only tricky thing was I did put the chicken as directed as well as all the marinade … so the rice next to all the juices was a little overcooked… next time no marinade inside the pot for an even more beautiful result. 2 Kg of rice was PLENTY for 10 people… Thanks so much!!! Everyone enjoyed it!

  7. Hi Sowjanya Garu,
    I am from Hyderabad area and there are soany places there that offer really good Dum Biryani, of course mutton biryani is the best. Last couple of times I ordered biryani from our local Andhra restaurant and all they had two small pieces of chicken wirh a bunch of biryani rice. I got 3 orders of biryani for 6 people ( we also had several other dishes prepared) and it was embarassing when our guests kept sifting through the rice looking for chicken pieces. I am upset enough to look on line and learn to cook the dish myself. Your recipe looks prretty authentic and i would like to try it in the next few days. However i have several questions. I would greatley apprciate if you would take time to clear my doubts.

    1. Our stove is standard size and if i use very wide dish, the flame will not cover the entire bottom of the pot and the rice may not be cooked uniformly. Is it better to use the oven instead?
    2. After the chicken is marinated, is it OK to justuse the chicken pieces and throw away the rest of the marinade beacuse i am afraid that it may come too much watery if i use all the marinade.
    3. Garam masala mix – do i use the cardamom pods with the skin or remove the seeds from the pod and throw away the skins?
    4. If i use the oven for cooking, i can check the rice at the top after 25 minutes for doneness but how do i check if the chicken is done without overly disturbing the rice layer?

    I know that you get an enormous number of requests from the reader of your blogs but please leave me a note when you find some time. I will also check out your chepala pulusu recipe because is i use to love it in some Rajulu hotel in Rajamandry but here in US, i tasted it at some of our friends houses but it is not even to close what I had back then. It is always too watery, or not sour enough, or just too bland.
    Thank you once again for yourpassion for cooking and sharing your knowlege and experience with so many of us novices. Bye now and keep sharing your recipes.

  8. hi Sowjanya Garu,
    1. I am planning on making Biryani with 6 lbs of chicken thighs (bone in). Could you please give me the quantities of spices needed? I think chicken thighs wth bone in tastes better for our preparations. I buy the chicken thighs (fortunately we can buy chicken thighs alone in US), remove the skin, cut off all the fat, and then chop them into two’s or three’s using a cleaver depending on how large the thighs are. Works out beautifully for chicken curry, or korma. Please let me know the quantities for 6 lbs of chicken thighs. Also, sis the recipe the same for lamb biryani also? Thanks

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