Feb 11, 2013

Malabar Chicken Biryani

Malabar chicken  Biryani - A less spicy biryani, popular in Malabar regions of Kerala. No added red chilli powder, coriander powder, tomatoes and curd.

Serves: 3 - 4


For  chicken:

750 g chicken, cut into medium pieces (or biryani pieces)

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

½ teaspoon red chilli powder

Wash and clean chicken pieces. Drain out water thoroughly. In a wide bowl, marinate chicken  pieces with turmeric powder, red chilli powder  and salt. Cover and keep aside for half an hour.

For rice:

3 tablespoon ghee

1 onion, finely sliced (1 big size or 2 small size)

2 tablespoons cashew nut (splits)

2 tablespoons raisins

3 cloves

1 bay leaf

2 small cinnamon sticks

3 cardamom

2 cups (400 ml) jeerakasala rice / Zeera Zamba (1 ½ cup hot water required for 1 cup jeerakasala / zeera samba  rice) Indian standard measuring cup of 200 ml / 8 oz capacity.  Please  use same measuring cup to measure rice and water.

3 cups hot water

½ teaspoon salt

Featured here is a Chicken Biryani made out of Jeerakasala rice / Zeera samba rice.  Jeerakasala rice is a popular variety of aromatic rice used in Tamilnadu and Kerala. As the name suggests the grains are smaller in size like jeera ( cumin seeds ). It is very tasty and fragrant when cooked (better than basmati rice). Available at whole sale rice merchants in Chennai  and leading supermarkets.


 Wash and clean rice. Drain out water. Do not soak rice in water.

In a frying pan / karahi, heat ghee on a medium heat. Add finely sliced onions and fry till golden color and crisp on a medium to low heat. Carefully remove from ghee and keep in a separate container.

Add cashew nut splits and fry until golden color on a medium to low heat. Remove and keep aside.

Add raisins and fry until golden color on a medium to low heat. Remove and store it an air tight container.

In the remaining ghee, add bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. Fry for 2 – 3 minutes until fragrant.

Add drained rice and fry for 3 – 4 minutes until water dries up.

Add 3 cups of hot water and salt to taste. Cover with a tight lid and cook on a medium heat for 15 – 17 minutes or until done / water dries up / rice cooked well.

 For chicken masala:

2 tablespoon ghee / oil

3 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 cardamom

4 onion, finely sliced

5 green chillies, crushed (do not make a paste)

12 garlic cloves, chopped and crushed (do not make a paste)

1 teaspoon finely  chopped ginger

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

Marinated  chicken  pieces

3/4  teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1/4 cup water (3 - 4 tablespoon)

1 tablespoon lemon juice


In a frying  pan or a karahi, heat ghee on a medium heat. Add cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and fry on a low heat until fragrant. Add sliced onions and fry until golden color.

Add crushed green chillies, garlic and ginger and stir well for 5 – 6 minutes.

Add turmeric powder and mix well. Fry on a low heat for 2 minutes.

Add marinated  chicken pieces and adjust salt to taste.  Add 1/4 cup  water when cooking. Cover with a tight lid and cook on a medium to low heat for 30 - 35 minutes until done /chicken well cooked  / gravy thickens (you may get ½  cup gravy). Finally mix with lemon juice.

Final dum preparation:

Maida dough for sealing (depends upon the size of the vessel)

2 tablespoon chopped mint and coriander leaves

Shallow fried onions, cashew nut splits and raisins

12 small pineapple slices (optional)

Extra 1 tablespoon ghee

Wet towel (or clean and wet Kerala thorth)


In a heavy - bottomed vessel or biryani pot, spread a layer of chicken masala (including gravy) and half portion of cooked rice. Make 2 layers with cooked rice and chicken masala. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ghee, pineapple slices (optional), chopped mint and coriander leaves, shallow fried onions (reserve 1 teaspoon for final decoration), raisins and cashew nuts.

Gently put a wet towel over it.

Cover with a tight lid. Seal with maida dough on the edges of the lid. Heat a heavy - bottomed iron kadai. Keep biryani pot over it. Cook on a low heat for 35 - 40 minutes. You can find a color change on the maida seal. Open the seal carefully. Decorate with chopped coriander and mint leaves and shallow fried onions.  Serve hot with Raita and pickle / pappadam / boiled egg.

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