Chicken Biryani And Gravy (Inspired by Lucknowi Biryani)

lucknowi biryani
I am a huge biryani fan. So if anyone even mentions biryani in front of me, I start getting cravings. Last week, we were invited to one of our friend’s home for dinner. She had made a very nice biryani. The next day again I wanted to eat it. So I was pretty much thinking about it whole week. Then my brother mentioned he had been to a biryani festival. Ohh, I hate him for saying that to me. It was the last push I needed to make it at home.

So today morning I spent some time searching for a good biryani recipe. My brother said his favorite types are Hyderabadi and Awadhi types. Since I was very interested to try a new recipe, I started searching for Awadhi. The recipes I found online were either quite elaborate or required some ingredients which I did not have on hand. Finally I decided to check out my favorite Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s site. His Lucknowi biryani caught my attention. I had all ingredients and it looked quite straight forward. Cool. I have no idea if it is traditional Lucknowi biryani or just an interpretation by chef.

I made few changes to the recipe. I did not see any chillies in the recipe, so I included some. I also layered it like any other biryani. It came out very delicious. Since we are used to very spiced biryanis, I felt I should serve a gravy with it. The gravy I prepared is kind of like the one served along with biryanis in India. I have no idea how the restaurant version is made. But this version came out amazingly well.

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1 and 1/2 cups basmati rice
1/2 tea spn shah jeera (caraway seeds)
2 green cardamoms
2 bay leaves
2 cloves

1 lb(0.45kg) chicken
1/4 cup onion slices

For spice paste (grind to paste without water)
1/2 cup onion
4-5 green chillies
1 tea spn cumin seeds
1 green cardamom
A small piece of nutmeg
1 tea spn garlic
1 tea spn ginger
2 cloves

For spice bundle(Tie in a muslin cloth or clean thin towel)
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tea spn garlic
1 tea spn ginger
1/2 tea spn black pepper
2 black cardamom
1/2 tea spn fennel seeds(badishepi)
2″ cinnamon
1 mace (javithri)

For saffron milk (warm the milk and dissolve saffron):
2 tbl spn milk
1/4 tea spn saffron

For Potatoes:
1 cup of potatoes
A pinch of salt

Other ingredients:
3 and 1/2 cups water

Heat water with salt and the spice bundle till it starts boiling. Add chicken pieces. Cook till 3/4th done. (I used tender chicken breasts, so it took hardly a minute. Based on the kind of chicken used, the time varies). Take out the chicken pieces in a bowl. Reserve the water. Discard the bundle.

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Wash the rice and keep aside. In another pan, heat a little oil and add green cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, shah jeera. Add rice and fry for few minutes. Measure the reserves water. Add about 2 and 3/4 cups of this water to rice and cook till the all water is absorbed.

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In another pan, heat oil and fry the potatoes till they are golden brown. Take out on a clean plate.
Heat oil in same pan and add sliced onions. Fry till they are slightly brownish. Add the chicken and paste, add little salt if required. Fry for few minutes.

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In a thick bottomed pan, spread some oil. Add half the amount of cooked rice. Now spread the chicken and potatoes. Cover with remaining rice. Spread the saffron milk on top. Cover the lid.

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Cook on a very low flame for about 15mins (by this time all parts of biryani are cooked. This step allows all the rice to absorb spices).
Serve hot as it is or with gravy.

Serves : 4-5
Preparation time : 1hr

Be very careful while cooking chicken. Since it is cooked multiple times, it easily gets rubbery if enough attention is not paid.
While cooking rice for any biryani, it is cooked in excess water and then water is drained. I did not want to do this for this biryani as the water used here is full of flavor. I did not want to waste any of it. So I cooked rice in just enough water to slightly under cook rice.
The dish looks quite complex, but if you follow the exact steps, it is not that hard to put together.

lucknowi biryani - gravy

For Gravy :
1/2 cup onion
1 tea spn ginger
1 tea spn garlic
4 red chillies
1/2 tea spn fennel seeds(badishepi)
4 peppers
1/2 tea spn poppy seeds (khus khus)
1/2 tea spn coriander seeds
1/4 cup tomato
1 tbl spn fresh/frozen coconut
A pinch turmeric

Heat oil and add all spices. Then add onion, ginger, garlic and fry till onions are brownish.
Now add tomato, turmeric, coconut. Fry for 2-3mins.
Grind to a smooth paste adding enough water to bring to gravy consistency.
Heat the gravy till it starts boiling.
Serve with biryani.

Serves : 4
Preparation time : 20mins

32 thoughts on “Chicken Biryani And Gravy (Inspired by Lucknowi Biryani)”

  1. lovely recipe…i love biryanis and pulav’s…even though the ingredients and steps make it look daunting..I kinda feel comfortable making them..cos instead of making dal, rice, chapati, bhaji..this is more easy!. Do visit my post, I’ve a hyderabadi biryani post..

  2. a little complicated for the biryani (but being biryani, i know this much work is essential and i am being lazy!!) but the biryani gravy you have made has an uncanny resemblance in look- colour and texture, to the gravy they serve at good luck restaurant on Deccan crossroads in Pune.. i absolutely loved this gravy and will try your recipe very soon to go with pulao

  3. The beauty about biryani is that there are so many kinds, all delicious, and one can just keep on experimenting with the taste while keeping some of the basic ingredients like saffron, ghee, cloves, cardamom, ginger/garlic etc. same. I love them all. If anyone is from Mumbai, try Cafe Bahar near Flora Fountain which is amazing for its biryanis.

  4. Hey shilpa,

    I have the same step by step pics of my jackfruit biryani in my folder which i think i did like 1 and half yrs back….:-) never found time 2 really update and add in all the recipes i have from my folder….this inspires me that i should add them sometime:-)

    the orange color of the kesar does do wonders….but i think the hotels add artificial color to the hyderabadi biryani rgt…..becoz even when i add the kesari i dont find it so colorful as the hotel ones. the proper orange yellowish biryani u get there…rgt?


  5. Shilpa, it seems like ages since I’ve been here. How’ve you been? Love your new layout.

    And look at the treat in store -we, especially DH are great biryani fans, so needless to say, i’m literally drooling now 🙂

  6. Looks very yummy..have been making my own concoction of dum biryani successfully…your recipe seems perfect. will definetly try & let u know..Thanks..

  7. Looks very yummy, but if we omit potatoes should we add a little less spice, I mean for a lareger quantity of biryani. I am surely going to try it on one sunday.

  8. I saw this on Fb and I’ve been drooling. Haven’t had biryani in a long time. And that gravy recipe looks interesting, I love the restaurant gravy, but never know how to get that meat taste without any meat in it. I will try your gravy recipe with chicken stock instead of water, that might make it a bit more “meat-y”, what do you think?

  9. Nice one as usuall from you.
    Just check one thing….
    the spices to be tied in a muslin bag and the paste to be ground….
    I feel their headings have been interchanged…probably a typo.
    Even the pics show it otherwise.

  10. This is for Veda. Spanish saffron is the best saffron in the world. The one available at Indian stores seems to be mixed with something. If you have Trader Joe store in your city, they have imported Spanish saffron.

  11. It looks terrific! I have only tried biryani with gravy once in an afghani restaurant and this too looks gorgeous; I have been a huge fan of you for about a year now but this is the first time I’m writing, and I have yet to try a recipe but I think you are a great inspiration Shilpa and I love your stories behind the recipes- I would love to be a culinary queen like you! Take care Shilpa, and I would love to hear from you. Keep posting!

  12. hi,i was looking at the recipie for the gravy and u mention peppers in the ingredient list .Could you please tell me what kind of peppers u have in the green bell pepper?Also you do not mention what to do with peppers in the recipie,while it is in the ingredient list it does not come up again in the method.Please could you clarify coz the gravy looks delicious.

    1. It is the peppercorns – white or black based on heat level you need. I mentioned “add all spices” – which includes peppers

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