Chicken Biriyani and Cucumber Raita

Michelle Peters - Jones at The Tiffin Box (
Recipe with pictures and further instructions:

Serves 4 - 6 people

Spice Mix: (make your own, using this recipe or if you are using a bought spice mix, my recommendation is Eastern Biriyani Masala from any Asian grocery)

Chicken and Marinade

1/4 cup plain yogurt
4 - 5 tablespoons biriyani spice mix
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon or salt to taste
1 tablespoon oil
1 kilo chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (I used 4 chicken thighs  cut into two pieces each and 4 chicken drumsticks)

Biriyani Sauce

2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 tablespoon ghee
2 cinnamon sticks
8 cloves
8 green cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
1 star anise
1 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic,crushed
1 inch piece of ginger, grated
1 – 2 green chillies, chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 teaspoon garam masala
Large handful cilantro, chopped
Large handful mint, chopped
Salt to taste


3 cups basmati rice
Salt, to taste
Boiling water, as required
A generous pinch of saffron
2 tablespoons rose water


1/2 an onion, thinly sliced and caramelized
1/4 cup unsalted cashew nuts
1/4 cup raisins


Whisk together the yoghurt, spice mix, turmeric, salt and oil. Add the chicken pieces, rubbing in the marinade, and refrigerate for a couple hours, ideally overnight.

In a large, heavy, oven-safe pot (ideally one with a lid), heat the oil and the ghee. Add the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and star anise and fry for a minute, until the spices start to smell fragrant. Add the diced onion to the pot, and fry together for 5 - 7 minutes, until the onion starts to soften and go golden around the edges.

Add the garlic, ginger and chilies to the onion, and fry together for another minute.

Add the tomatoes, garam masala, cilantro and mint, and stir and cook everything together for 5 minutes, adding a little bit of salt to season.

Add the marinated chicken and any remaining marinade to the pot. Turn down the heat to medium low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through. Add a splash of water to the chicken if it looks too dry, but don't add too much water, as the chicken will release its juices as it cooks. Taste and season with plenty of salt.

Place a pizza stone in the oven if you have one and preheat the oven to 450 F.

In the meantime, place the rice and a little salt in a large pot and cover with 6 cups of boiling water. Cover the pot and cook the rice on a low heat for 10 minutes, until it is about 3/4 of the way cooked, but not cooked all the way. Drain the rice.

Layer the drained rice on top of the chicken. Place the saffron in the rosewater and drizzle it all over the rice. Sprinkle the caramelized onions, cashew nuts and raisins over the top.

Cover the pot tightly with aluminium foil, and place the lid on top. Transfer the pot to the oven. After ten minutes, turn the heat down to 350 F, and leave the pot in the oven for an additional 15 minutes.

Take the pot out of the oven, and gently fluff up the biriyani to serve.

Cucumber Raita

1 English cucumber, seeded and finely diced
¼ cup plain yoghurt
A generous pinch each of cumin and cayenne
Squeeze of lemon juice
Salt to taste


Whisk together the yoghurt, cumin and cayenne. Season to taste with the lemon juice and salt.

Stir in the cucumber. Chill until ready to use.