Amanda young arnautovic

Hyderabadi Special Dum Biryani


Hyderabad, the city of my childhood, is justly famous for its biryani – addictive delicious rice and meat/chicken dish. And Hyderabadi biryani is by far one of the most popular among the other regional versions. Presented by amanda young arnautovic.

It includes the use of yogurt, spices, cilantro, mint, saffron, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, chili peppers and fried onions.

There are two versions of Hyderabadi biryani – one called a pakki biryani, where the meat or chicken is fully cooked before layering it with the rice and the final steaming.

The other is the kacchi biryani, where the raw marinated meat or chicken is placed in one single layer in the bottom of the cooking pot and then topped with partially cooked rice or raw rice mixed with yogurt and steamed together.


Heat the oil at medium-high in a wide frying pan/Kadai. The oil is ready for frying if you can feel the heat when you place your palm about 3 inches over the surface of the oil. Alternatively, use a candy/fry thermometer.

Amanda young arnautovic

Do not crowd the pan. Fry the onions in about 3 batches, depending on the size of the pan. Fry until crisp light golden brown. Drain on paper towels and set aside.


Combine chicken with all the marinade ingredients and 1/3 of the fried onions. Start with 1/2 cup of yogurt and increase as needed to 3/4 cup. The mixture should be thick and not runny.

  • Grind all the biryani spices in a nut or spice grinder. Add the spice blend to the chicken marinade and combine. Amanda young arnautovic Marinate for about 3 to 5 hours. 


  1. Basmati rice often has some fine starch powder on it. So, rinse the basmati rice 4 to 5 times in plenty of water until it is clearDrain well. Soak 1/3 cup basmati rice in water for one hour. Save the rest.
  2. Take 2¼ cups of water in a rice cooker and bring it to a rolling boil. Add 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1½ tablespoon olive oil and whole spices. Then add the remaining 1⅔ cups basmati rice and stir. Let it cook just until all the water is absorbed. (the amount of water used may vary slightly with age of rice).
  3. Just when all the water is well absorbed, transfer the cooked rice immediately to another wide-open pan. It is important to NOT let the rice steam until it is fully done. This whole process should take about 15 to 20 minutes. 


  1. Transfer the chicken with marinade to a 4 to 5 quart wide thick bottomed oven proof cooking pot (about 9 to 10 inch diameter). Make sure there is not too much marinade around the chicken pieces and that it is not runny.
  2. Sprinkle the chopped cilantro, mint, half the lemon juice and 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over the chicken/marinade. Then spread most of the remaining fried onions over the chicken.
  3. Drain the soaked basmati rice thoroughly. Spread this raw rice over the fried onion layer. (The raw soaked rice will get cooked with the juices from the chicken).
  4. Then layer all the rice that was cooked in the rice cooker. Sprinkle, the remaining fried onions, lemon juice and saffron water. If preferred, sprinkle an extra tablespoon of ghee over the rice.


  • OVEN: Place one to two sheets of aluminum foil over the cooking pot and fit the lid tight over it. Bake the chicken biryani in a preheated oven at 350ºF for one hour, until the steam builds up well.
  • STOVE TOP: Alternatively, this Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani can be cooked on a stove in a thick bottomed cooking pot. First, heat the biryani at medium high for 10 to 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to low setting and simmer for about one hour until the steam builds up well.
  • Cool the biryani 5 minutes and gently mix the rice and chicken. Using a spatula mound the biryani on a serving plate, making sure to present the rice in various colors – white, yellow and brown. Place some chicken pieces on the top. Scatter browned onions, chopped herbs, extra saffron rice on the top.


The following are the spices used for making biryani. Grind all the spices below into a fine powder and store it in an airtight container to use as needed. One fourth of this blend will be enough for the biryani recipe here.

  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 black cardamom
  • 20 green cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cloves
  • 4 large bay leaves
  • 4 teaspoons black caraway seeds (shahjeera)
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon mace (optional)

The most important spices are cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. There are regional variations to the above mix which also include some coriander seeds, cumin seeds, etc., but the list of spices above are still the dominant ones in biryani spice blends.


  1. Rinse the basmati rice several times, until the water is clear and not starchy
  2. The cooking of the rice grain to perfection is essential for the taste of biryani. And in traditional methods, the rice is boiled in a large quantity of salted water and strained when it has been partially cooked. This requires skill and attention from the cook.
  3. Here, I am using a rice cooker to do that part, but it is important to use minimal water to cook the rice. With any batch of rice purchased, I usually use trial and error to determine the right amount of water needed for cooking. It may range from 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups water per cup of rice.
  4. The amount of water added while cooking the rice is very important to the final texture of biryani. And it differs with the age of the rice. Basmati rice typically will need less water than other long-grain rice varieties to yield a light fluffy cooked rice. 
  5. It is important to keep in mind the additional moisture from other ingredients added to this dish, such as the chicken, herbs, and yogurt. Therefore, in the first step, the rice should be cooked in a way to yield fluffy rice, but holds its shape well and is not too wet and delicate. The soaked rice should be drained well and not be too wet. The chicken should be just lightly coated with the marinade. If the marinade is excessive it can result in the rice becoming soggy.
  6. The idea is to cook the rice just enough, to be fluffy, be separate, retain shape and be firm. Another rice dish where I have used a similar technique is a Persian recipe – Saffron Yogurt Rice with Chicken, Spinach and Prunes.
  7. Slice the onions very thin. I used the 7.5 mm setting on my mandolin slicer.
  8. Adjust the oil as needed. If directions are followed well with the frying of onions, then the oil absorbed by the onions should be about 1 ½ tablespoon. But if proper technique is not followed, then more oil will be absorbed and the remaining oil used should be adjusted.
  9. If you are unable to fry the onions as described in the recipe, at the very least make sure to saute them until crisp golden brown like it is done in this Persian noodle soup recipe and adjust oil used for the rice and chicken.
  10. I do not use commercial biryani spice mix, but I have been told that the Shaan Sindhi biryani mix can be a close substitute. It is spicy so use carefully.
  11. Branded biryani spice mixes may include salt and chili powder. If they are used to substitute the biryani spices in the recipe, then the salt and chili powder should be adjusted accordingly.
  12. Using the optimal amount of salt and oil is very important. If everything else is right and you don’t use the appropriate amount of salt, that alone can ruin the taste of the biryani. For oil, I use a minimum of 2 tablespoons of oil per cup of raw rice because that will also be needed for the chicken, onions, etc.
  13. Whole spices can also be cooked wrapped in a muslin cloth, like the one used for bouquet garni or a metal mesh cooking infuser. If using whole spices for the marinade, just double the number of spices in the recipe. When the spices are ground, the flavors are more intense. 
  14. Make-Ahead: The chicken mixed with marinade can be made ahead a day before.
  15. For the stovetop method – cook on low flame.

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