Chicken Biryani

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

Hidden Kitchens of Sri Lanka

By Bree Hutchins

Published 2013

  • About

A meal of layered rice and curry, biryani is a popular Muslim dish all over the world. In Sri Lanka it is served with a mind-boggling array of accompanying curries, pickles and salads. Biryani is often steamed or baked, however Fareena didn’t do this and I have to admit my first thought was ‘it’s not biryani/’ But once I tasted it, I couldn’t have cared less whether it had been steamed or not — it was absolutely sensational. Making biryani takes the best part of a day, but it’s worth the effort.

It’s one of those dishes that needs to be shared and is great when served on a communal platter.



Prepare the chicken korma curry and the two biryani garnishes.

Place the turmeric and oil in a large saucepan and cook over low heat for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and salt, then add enough water to cover the rice by about 2 cm (¾ inch). Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.

Heat the ghee in a small frying pan over low heat. Add the cashews and raisins and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain and set aside.

Transfer half of the cooked rice to a large, round pot or dish (about 8 litre (280 fl oz/32 cup) capacity and 26 cm (10½ inch) diameter) and mix with the chicken korma curry. Place the rest of the rice on top, but do not mix it with the bottom layer. Sprinkle garnish no. 1 on top and then garnish with the fried cashews and raisins. Drizzle the rosewater over the top.

Serve on a large shallow platter with garnish no. 2 on the side. For a complete Sri Lankan Muslim feast, also serve with fried whole chicken with spicy sauce and green gram curry.