Recipe by: Ambica Pruthi

Source: Ambica’s Brother’s recipe

Serves: 8 people, assuming it’s a main dish served with sides

Ambica Pruthi's North Central Indian Dum Biryani
Ambica Pruthi’s North Central Indian Dum Biryani


  • 2 Tbsp ginger juliennes (thin strips), for finishing
  • 10-12 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cup yogurt
  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 1 kg chicken (on the bone)
  • 10-12 tsp grated garlic
  • 6-8 green chilies, sliced
  • 50 g mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • 50 g coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • 8 cups onions, sliced
  • 6 cups tomatoes, sliced
  • 2 tsp red chili powder
  • 3 tsp garam masala (Indian spice mix)
  • 4-5 tsp coriander powder
  • 4-5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup (250 ml) pure ghee (Indian clarified butter, see photo in attached PDF file), includes what you will need for frying
  • 10-12 whole peppercorns
  • 7-8 bay leaves
  • 4 star anise
  • 10-12 cloves
  • 8 green cardamoms
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (medium size)
  • Muslin cloth/highly porous cloth: 3 inch x 3 inch square
  • 3 Tbsp salt (or additional to taste)
  • 5-10 strands saffron (optional)
  • 2-3 Tbsp diluted rose water, (1 tsp rosewater to ¼ cup water)
  • 1 Tbsp milk (optional)
  • Non stick pot with lid / clay pot with lid (This is for giving ‘Dum’ to the Biryani at the end)
  • Dough  (whole wheat flour) – For sealing the Pot at the end. Should be hard.

Instructions (Marinating the Chicken)

Can do on the previous night or at least two hours in advance.

  • Place yogurt and lemon Juice in a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt, half of grated garlic and ginger, 1 tsp of red chili powder, 1 ½ tsp of garam masala, 1 ½ teaspoon coriander powder and 1 ½ teaspoon of turmeric and mix well. Add the chicken pieces and mix again so that all the chicken pieces are well covered with the yogurt mixture. Cover the bowl and keep it aside.

Instructions (Biryani)

  • Wash and soak Basmati rice for half an hour in 1.7 times of water ( 5 cups in this case).
  • Place a kadai (deep iron wok) on high heat and pour 1 cup of ghee. When small bubbles appear at the bottom of the wok, add 3 cups sliced onions and fry till the onions turn golden(caramelize). Drain with the slotted spoon and place on plate
  • Take a piece of cloth. Place it flat and put 6 whole peppercorns, 2 star anise, 6 green cardamoms,6 cloves into it and tie the ends together to make a ball. Place a deep non stick pot on high heat and pour in 4 cups water in which rice was soaked in. Add the ball of spices to it and 4-5 bay leaves with 1/2 teaspoon salt. When the water comes to a boil add the rice and cook till the rice is par boiled. Keep the pan covered at all times. If there is any water remaining in the rice pour it out from the pan and reserve it for later use.
  • Place another deep non stick pan on medium heat and pour in 8-10 tablespoons ghee. You can use the same one which you used to fry the onions. Add remaining green cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole peppercorns, bay leaves and sauté for 1 minute or till fragrant. Add green chilies, remaining ginger and garlic grated to this and sauté for one more minute.
  • Add the 4 cups sliced onions and sauté till light golden.
  • Add the sliced tomatoes and remaining coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chili powder, teaspoon garam masala powder and ½ tbsp salt. Sauté for about 5 minutes. Cover and cook for 2 minutes.
  • (Optional) At this point while tomatoes are cooking dissolve saffron in warm milk and let its leave the color to the milk
  • Preheat the oven to maximum temperature (230 degrees Celsius in this case) for 10 minutes
  • Add the marinated chicken and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Depending on the liquid juices in the pan add little from the drained rice water or fresh water if there was no rice water left (We don’t want the chicken to be very watery as it will make rice watery later. It should be semi liquid). Mix well and reduce heat letting it simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or till the chickenis 90 % cooked and tender. Add all chopped coriander leaves and mix well.
  • Depending on the quantity of chicken and rice prepare a pan ( same one or a separate one) for single or double layering of chicken and rice.
  • If doing a Single layer , in the same pot spread the rice over the chicken evenly. Sprinkle the saffron milk(Optional), diluted rose water, 2 pinches of garam masala powder, 2 teaspoons of melted ghee on the top, ginger julienne, chopped mint leaves and browned onions.
  • Roll the whole wheat flour dough into a thin cylinder and arrange it on the rim of the pan and put the lid on. Then again roll the dough into cylinder and do one more layer on the rim and lid joint to seal it 100%. The dough helps to seal the pan and thus prevent the flavors from escaping.
  • Place the sealed pot in the oven for 30 -35 minutes
  • Remove the pots and let them sit outside as is for 10 more minutes.
  • Open the seal and dig the biryani vertically to scoop out both the layers and plate it. Server with Raita (Beaten yogurt mixed with roasted cumin powder and rock salt (if needed)

Download PDF here: North Central Indian Chicken Dum Biryani Ambica Pruthi