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Biryani has been around since the dawn of time. It is a well-known dish celebrated and loved around the world. Especially in South Africa! There are eight essential types of biryani (which means there’s even more!). There’s Bhopali biryani, which goes wonderfully with mutton, Bhatkali biryani, which contains a lot of chillies in (for the brave out there), and Mughlai biryani, which is served with dried fruit and almond paste (a 16th century royal dish) to only name a few.

More than this, biryani can be made with vegetables, beef, chicken, lamb, mutton, the list goes on.

The name biryani has almost as many variations as the types of biryani and the ways to prepare this wonderful dish out there. Biryani is also known as or spelled by some as biriyani, briyani, and buriyani. South Africans prefer the spelling, breyani.

No matter the way you spell or make it, biryani is one perpetual dish.

So, chicken or beef today?

We think let’s go with chicken biryani. A good ol’ Cape Malay style chicken biryani.

How to make the best chicken biryani at home.

Ingredients sorted will be divided below. The sauce and biryani will be divided below. The dish will serve up to 6 people.

You will need the following ingredients for the chicken biryani:

  • +- 450 gram chicken (bone-in, with thighs and legs)
  • 150 gram potatoes (diced into 1cm cubes)
  • 150 gram basmati rice
  • 50 gram brown lentils
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped, fresh coriander

Now for the chicken biryani sauce:

  • 1 large, finely chopped onion
  • 400 gram can of whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 8 seeded cardamom pots
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon masala
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon squeezed lemon juice

Chicken biryani cooking method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Start by making the sauce. Place the ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until lightly browned.

In the meantime, place the spices in a coffee grinder or blender and blend at high speed until fine. Stir in with the onion and cook until deep brown, but not burnt (+-3 minutes). Stir in the tomatoes (coarsely chopped) and cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, garlic, salt, and brown sugar. Cook for 5 more minutes.

Remove from the stove top and stir in the chicken stock.

Biryani: Place all the biryani ingredients, except the fresh coriander into a casserole and pour over the sauce. Mix well to combine. Bake for 1 hour and stir after 30 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander afterward.

There you have it! This aromatic dish is sure to make your family’s day (or next day), as this dish reheats wonderfully and is great to refrigerate.

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